Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hiking with dogs in deep snow

Last weekend was very snowy with a storm that kept me inside until Sunday when my friend Allie invited me for a hike. The snow was very deep around the dredge lakes area and the moraine ecology trail we hiked. Maple the golden retriever and Bob the black lab were having a great time busting through chest deep snow for several hours while I huffed it on my snow shoes and Allie cross country skiied. The snow was so deep that it took quite a bit of energy to break trail in some places and the dogs soon figured out that they could have an easier time of things by following in our tracks. After a while they followed so close that I kept feeling a very heavy weight on my snow shoes and would have to catch my balance. I was amazed at how much engergy the dogs have and surprised we didn't see the "romeo" the local black wolf that Juneau Residents have been feeding and allowing their dogs to play with. This is quite a problem and has caused the wolf to become very brave around people especially when they bring their dogs along. I've been keeping my fingers crossed that the wolf doesn't harm a human or eat any more dogs(than it has already). In the mean time it seem seems to really like Maple and has surprised my friend with close encounters on several occasions. This whole doesn't seem to have a pack and often acts like it prefers the company of dogs which some folks gladly encourage despite the fact that it has killed at least a couple of dogs already and last winter it picked up a pug and tossed it much to the chagrine of it's panicked owner. Luckily the pug played possum and wasn't killed. It's fascinating and frustrating to see the types of problems that occur when people don't use common sense with wildlife. Oh well at least we had a fun day in the snow before the rain came back the next days:)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Crazy Commercial Fisherman

It's a been a while since I've had a chance to update and I haven't had a chance to take too many photos but I was sent an email today with some of the craziest photos I've seen yet. First of all boating in Southeast Alaska can be quite dangerous with very rough seas, ice bergs, rocky shorelines and lots and lots of "dead heads" which are basically big logs that wash out with the high tides and storms that you can collide with and severly damage a boat hull. All summer long there were almost daily messages from the Coast Guard looking for missing boats, etc. Okay so now it's Febuary and we had a severe storm warning all weekend with about 18 inches of snow and winds 45 up to 80mph gusts at times the worst of which occurred on Saturday. One of my coworkers Lavern Beier lives on an awesome boat down at the harbor which isn't uncommon in Juneau. He relayed the following crazy story and photographs. Apparently a this commercial fishing boat drove 14 hours on Saturday from Cape Fanshaw to Juneau with salt spray and snow blasting across the vessel with higher winds coming from the starboard side of the boat. It was dark and they were using instruments and so much ice built up that they had to hold a heater against the windshield to keep about a 6 inch hole for visibility. The fact that there was more water hittting the starboard side and the weight of the ice was surely thousands of pounds didn't phase these lunatics despite the fact that an experienced captain like LaVern immediately recognized the fact that the boat was listing because of the weight of the ice and could have very easily capsized with one wrong wave. When he walked up to the boat they were taking photos with their cell phones to send to their girlfriends and when he mentioned that it was risky business they said something like "that's what fishermen do".LOL! Here's a tip for anyone who wants to visit AK. Most of the locals are much more adventurous than people from out of state(including me) so if they people here say that what your doing is crazy then your life expectancy is probably greatly reduced! Enjoy!
Note the small "viewing hole" in the windshield that was made by holding a heater against it for most of the 14 hour trip! I'm not sure how they got of the boat as the doors were probably frozen shut? LaVern told me a story of a many years ago when a mail delivery boat arrived in Juneau and the mailman couldn't get out of the cabin after it froze shut so he had to weight until someone happened along and "broke him out" gotta love fighting the elements. Kind of puts shoveling 18 inches of snow this weekend in perspective eh?LOL!