Glacier season in full swing

Sebastian Schnülle · June 8, 2014 · Leave a comment

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Hard to believe it is June already. Time sure has been flying. Yikes my last post was during Iditarod..... After following the Iditarod to Nome I headed back to Fairbanks quickly and the packing game resumed as I had another 4 weeks of dog sled trips ahead, most of it camping trips. During our last night out on April 12th we saw some beautiful northern lights, the temperature was 10 below. Perfect way to end the season. Then the next morning, right on our last day of mushing, spring arrived as on cue. 45 Degrees, by the time we hit the kennel.

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From there it was whirlwind packing again and I was on the road to Juneau a few days later. The summer gear is spread out between Fairbanks, Whitehorse and Juneau. This means lot's of lists and more packing. See the common theme here? Once all the stuff is in Juneau, it has to once again be packed in sling loads to be flown up on the glacier.  Yes, I do get to see a lot of country and I really enjoy that. But darn, this packing.... and unpacking is sure getting to me at times. And this year not all travels went smooth. I broke down with 50 dogs on the truck smack dab in the middle of the trip at the US-Canadian border. Sheared all studs off on one side of the rear axle. Lucky nothing bad happend. Only with lots of help from good friends and the locals did I manage to get the dogs to the ferry just in time for the first tours. Being stuck with 50 dogs beside the road is sure interesting. I chalk it up under " more bonding time ".

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Whereas the year before I had painted the bottom of Orca Burger in snowfall, this year Juneau was exceptionally warm and nice in late April. 70F was hit more than once. Most of May remained to be the same. With little rainfall the snow on the glacier has not settled very well at all. It is always difficult to walk around up there, but this year the snow is softer than ever. Specially some not so light weight guests sure get a workout to stomp their way from the helicopter to the dog teams. We have a new yard setup and also a different dog running rotation as in the past and it turns out to me much more efficient. Of course the 2 Dream Puppies " Salt and Pepper " are a hit with the guests. Lots of socializing time for them.

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Of the young dogs Tsuga, who led for me much of last winter and Rodman have well earned their spots in front of their teams. At this point I only have my own dogs up on the ice which makes for a very harmonic and specially quiet group of dogs. The oldies Inuk, Nemo, Maggot and Finn spend most of their nights inside my tent. 1 bed for them 1 for me. Theoretically.  Mine is challenged at times. When I took Brock and Ozzy in also, the weight limit of the trusty Cabela's cot was finally surpassed and it collapsed.

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As for boating, I am staying much closer to Juneau as last year. Plenty to see here. Seen a few bears, whales, sea lions and of course many eagles. I want to spend more time on the ice myself, to spend more time with my dogs. Plans for next winter are well under way. It looks like I might hit some of the 300 mile races again together with Jonathan from the UK.  Joy and Michael will be busy with northern lights tours. Although I had sworn myself, while unpacking form the last big winter trip, to stay away from a long expedition next year, the itch to see new country seems to win the better of me. Right after the glacier tours are coming to an end I am headed for Kaktovik for Polar Bear Tours in September.  Ketil who is the boat captain up there ( and currently running dogs on the glacier )  said the other day, " Sebastian , why don't we take the dogs next spring and run to them to Kaktovik? " Other than more packing being involved, I sure can not see why not. This means doing two Trips, one from the Brooks Range to Kaktovik and than one back from there over the sea ice. April means pretty long daylight up there.

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In the meantime we hope the snow will last long enough for the season down here in Juneau. The snow cover was much below average this year. On the upside it has melted very little in May. I hope we can operate into the first week of September as planned! If you are in Alaska for the summer, come on down to Juneau and visit the monsters!

Sebastian

 

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