Friday, April 18, 2008

Katja and the powder bowl

The winds are finally blowing consistently out of the south, which means that the temperatures are slowly going to be warming up. This is already evident, because the snow is getting heavy and slushy. Some areas of tundra are completely exposed where the wind kept the snow from sticking.

Here are some pics in rememberance of the winter playground that I deemed "The Powder Bowl." Enjoy.

It's not quite Steamboat Springs, but it will due for western Alaska.

Sometimes I think that Katja enjoys the powder bowl more than I do. Maybe she just likes giving chase.

Thanks for reading
Katja and Dirk

Monday, April 07, 2008

Celebrating Yup'ik Culture

This time of year is full of celebrations and cultural events here in the Yukon Delta. Last weekend was Cama-i (pronounced Cha – my) in Bethel. Cama-i is a huge event that attracts people from around the world. This year, Cama-I hosted the magnificent Te Wananga Maori warriors. The Maori warriors are very enthusiastic and somewhat intimidating with their big tongues sticking out and the warrior like designs on their faces and bodies. They made the front page of the Delta Discovery our regional newspaper.

This weekend, it was Toksooks turn to host a dance festival, the Yup’ik Dance Festival. Although not quite as big, there were about 8 villages that braved the weather and snow machined or flew to Toksook to take part in the festivities. Held in the Nelson Islanders Gymnasium, you couldn’t buy a seat for $20. All right, maybe for $20, but it wouldn’t be a very good seat. Just joking, there weren’t any admission fees, but the place was packed.

This picture should give you an idea of how many people attended and drove their snow machines from their village. Some villages are 30 – 50 miles away over frozen waters and deep snow packed tundra. This is the closest Toksook Bay comes to filling a mall parking lot. There are another 20 snow machines behind me in this picture.

I attended the celebration a couple of times over the weekend, but I was also interested in the mounds of fresh powdery snow that we got in the area almost all weekend. I hit the backcountry everyday (sometimes twice) and got to make some turns on my x-country skis. Everyday there is fresh snow after April 1st is a gift. It will be interesting to see how much snow is left here when it is time to leave for the summer. Don’t forget we are on the coast at an elevation of about 80 feet. I have thoroughly enjoyed this winter.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Powder Bowl

This blog post has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now and I just haven't taken the time to get it posted. Well, here it is. Thanks for your patience.

Let me explain the powder bowl and why it is such a great place to ski here in Toksook. The winds either blow from the North or the South around here. The Powder Bowl sits facing Southwest and Northeast, so as the wind blows snow either North or South, it gets dropped right in the valley that makes up the bowl. In other words, it collects a lot of powder and makes for very fun downhill ski conditions. More importantly, it makes the skiing managable. Most other places consist of icy, lumpy, irregular conditions. This is a picture of the top of the bowl. I know it doesn't look like much of a bowl, but it is a slope that is pretty fun on x-country skis.

Here are a couple of pics showing you the powder bowl at its finest, which was a couple of weeks ago by now. Since then, the weather has warmed up, making the snow very heavy and slushy. It is the first week of April and we just got a new snow storm that is still kicking in fresh snow. Old Man Winter just doesn't want to let go of Toksook Bay this winter.

Notice the beautiful "S" carves coming down the bowl. I'm proud to say that I made those on w-country skis. Katja found a bone and just laid at the bottom of the bowl chewing on her bone and watching me ski down and climb back up and ski down and climb back up, etc, etc. Then I hook her up to the towline and skijor back. It's quite a workout by the time we're finished.

But I have the feeling that spring is on the way and soon the powder will turn to heavy slushy snow that it no fun. Yet another reason to look forward to next year.

I hope that some of you are able to get out and make some turns of your own. Spring skiing is the best. Thanks for reading.

Dirk and Katja