Stormy Weather

Storms.  It’s been wet and wild the past 10 days.  Rained most of the last six days.  Hard rain.  Parking lot in our manager housing is lightly flooded.  The Nenana River has risen quite a bit.  Faster too.  The sides of the mountains are alive with erosion and temporary waterfalls.  Streams are yellowish-brown with silt.

After a hot and dry summer, this recent period of unrest is both welcome, unwelcome, surprising, and a bit unsettling.

Storms lead to rainbows though.  There’s been no shortage of rainbows lately.

Two weeks ago, driving home from Anchorage.  Mouth aching from a root canal, the reward was multiple rainbows.

Two weeks ago, driving home from Anchorage. Mouth aching from a root canal, the reward was multiple rainbows.

2013 August Near Denali  024 - Version 2

2013 August Near Denali  019 - Version 2

I hadn’t been camping all summer.  Late season snow and the highest level of mosquitoes in years made it an unattractive proposition for much of the season.   Then life work conspired multiple times.  As did a general struggle with motivation.

Four PM.  In a funk, trapped in my cabin.  Why?  Good question.  Probably has a lot to do with the likely imminent demise of my job.  And other reasons.  Enough of this!  Quickly pack, grab a quick meal at the employee dining room.  Out the door and on the road.

Denali Highway.  I never get tired of this road.

Swans in one of my favorite ponds, 10 miles in.  Either Trumpeter Swans, or Tundra Swans.  Hard to tell; they look nearly identical.

2013 Aug Near Denali  106 - Version 2

2013 Aug Near Denali  110 - Version 2

Further up, further in.  On a steep section of road, it’s a bit of a heartbreaker that there is no clear view to the river and tundra below.  The scene is spectacular, with the river winding below.  No breaks in the thick trees and bushes, just occasional flashes of beauty.  I stop at a small break in the foliage; I’ve never noticed it before.

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Stormy weather.  Heavy clouds everywhere.  I park 42 miles in, unfortunately within earshot of other campers.  In past seasons my weekends were not on the weekend, and I generally had the road mostly to myself.  Not this year.  Who are all these people and why are they on my road?

One of the nearby groups is a little noisy, audible 1/4 mile away.  I fantasize about walking to their camp and telling them to shut up.  But it’s a large group with 2 RV’s and a tent; caution is wise.  Alaskans like their guns.  Why do people insist on being so noisy in nature?

Berries.  Berries are everywhere.  Lingonberries.  Soapberry.  Crowberry.  Bearberry.  And the best one of all – blueberries.  I spend an hour in the fading light picking berries.  Eating berries.  Happiness.

2013 Aug Near Denali  201 - Version 2

2013 Aug Near Denali  204 - Version 2

Sun still going down.  Despite the pale light, some great scenes break through.  Multiple rainbows make appearances, including two double rainbows.  At one point, the clouds break enough to allow incredible golden light to flood two ponds and their accompanying double rainbow, made more spectacular by the dark clouds behind.

10pm.  Sunset – days are getting shorter!  Sky turns an incredible yellow at a break in the clouds.

Click on one of the images to view full size.  They look much better that way!

Rain.  Read in the car.  Sleep in the car.  I never bothered to set up the tent.  It’s easier to not set the tent up, I sleep great in the passenger seat, and it’ll block the noise of my neighbors.

Morning.  Wake up to light rain.  Breakfast of yogurt, granola, banana, and blueberries picked last night.  Read more of my book.  Blissfully aware of not being connected to the world.  Or more importantly, work.

Rain stops.  Reading in the camp chair.  Room with a view!

I pick more berries.  Almost 4 quarts picked between last night and this morning.  Of course, I also ate a large amount.  This will be a nice addition to breakfast over the next week.

Food digested, fully awake now.  Change into running clothes.  Three miles east on the road, three miles back.  Nice to run somewhere new.  Not that I haven’t driven this road multiple times the past three seasons, but I haven’t run this section.  I pass multiple camping groups, some bemused at seeing a runner out here.

Back from the run.  Read more.  Spend a happy two hours photographing the tundra.  More on that in a later post.

Time to go.  Already?  Yes, already.  Birthday party for a friend tonight.  I’ve been so anti-social this summer, I can’t skip this event.

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