FROM 2011-Return to Nome, Alaska, in Winter

Running on ice

Or why I’ve always wanted YakTrax but was afraid to ask. They are weird to run on and energy sapping but very effective on packed snow. Not so good on smooth ice. And I’m learning about the different noises snow makes and even a bit about what it means – language, grammar and syntax, just like in a boat. Especially necessary to learn this language out on the sea ice. There’s a sort of hollow empty-bottle nasal graunch that means things are not necessarily all they seem to be and you’re on the point of going through the surface crust. Safe enough most of the time and you only go in up to the knee – but there are places out there where the snow has covered big cracks and you get no warning. Soft cruush and you’re in. So I’m trying to find surface signs as well. Those of my friends who go out to play on Everest and who might be reading this may sigh at this naive foolishness but one has to learn sometime.

Today was so still that sound carried for miles – and, as I was wearing a balaclava the Yakkie crunch climbed all the way up my spine and rattled my empty and echoing skull. Out on the ice later, I could see a bulldozer at the base of Anvil Mountain so at least 4 miles away and maybe 5 but it sounded as if it was out there with me.

More photos in the Alaska2011/2 and Sledge albums and a new one playing with skip and mirage.

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