Friday, December 21, 2012


When the wind stops, two and a half days later, the silence feels strange. I have grown so used to the persistent howl as it slams into the cabin after raking across the mountains. This time the wind topped out at ninety miles an hour. Pieces of the neighbor's roof flew across the yard. Up and down the street I could see people retrieving garbage cans. Cars were blown off the roads. The wind scoured the snow, replacing it with a solid sheen of ice. All of us huddle in our houses. In a storm like this, this truly does feel like the end of the world.

But out we went, because we had said we would clear the Nordic trails at 6,000 feet. The parking lot was a wind-blasted landscape of ice and blowing snow. I wore long underwear, two wool layers, a down coat and a shell as I skied tentatively along the alternating deep and icy layers of snow. I believe that if you use trails for any purpose you should spend at least one day volunteering to clear them. Unfortunately the budgets of the agencies responsible are stretched too thin to make up the difference. Too many people rush along not knowing what it takes to keep them clear. Everyone should learn.

The dogs looked cute but weren't much help.

The trees were buried deep in wind-driven snow and we had to shovel them out with our mittens until the saw could reach them. As we worked I thought about how many trails I've cleared over the years, and how the trees keep falling, weakened by wind and old age and fire. If I really thought about it, how small our effort was, it would be easy to give up. But in the end, it feels good to make headway against the wind.

I've read that the constant blowing of wind on the prairies literally drove some pioneers crazy. And there is something about wind that gets on your last nerve. But I've always liked extreme weather. I couldn't live in an unchanging paradise, although Hawaii sounded pretty good the last few days.

I have ice grippers, but this street in front of my cabin seemed a little daunting in 60 mph winds.

I couldn't really get great pictures of our lake in the storm. This doesn't do it justice. Spray was blowing off the tops of the waves and waves were crashing onto the beach.  Most of the time this is a placid lake, so it was pretty exciting. People were driving up to take pictures. Yes, the fun  never ends in this town.
For now the winds are quiet. A light snow is starting to fall. Maybe it will cover the ice and the trees will stay upright, until next time.


  1. The wind gets on my last nerve too. I can handle just about everything else, but I'm not a fan of the wind.

  2. Oh, that street! I used to see that condition frequently in Juneau. Those were the days I had to leave my Geo Prism at home and ride my studded-tire bicycle to work, because that was significantly safer.

    Does wind ever remind you of your Southeast Alaska days? I always used to get a kick out of the fact that 70mph gusts would qualify for a hurricane name on the East Coast; but in Juneau, that's just the plain ol' Taku Wind.


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