patrolling the ice edge

Not much ice remaining on the lake. Maybe of third of the lake still has ice today. A couple more sunny days and winter’ll be complete.

We saw no polar bears tonight

We saw no polar bears on the ice tonight

We did see bout two dozen pairs of geese, mallards and grebes selecting nest sites. A couple grebes couples were collecting and placing materials on old nests. We had a fun moment watching one grebe wrestle a three foot twig onto his nest – the dude was persistent. And successful.

We watched an eagle approaching low towards the lake. Then a very loud alarm was shrieked by a goose as the eagle buzzed the lake. Soon, geese around the lake picked up the alarm.  I pray some the waterfowl survive the eagles this summer. Last year, the eagles killed or scared off many of the nesting birds.

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impatient ice breaker

Bless his heart, our neighbor is at it again. Each spring he goes out in his boat and attempts to break open a lead in the rotten spring ice.

Solitary ice breaker

Solitary ice breaker

With an open lead, the wind will move the ice back and forth, and break it up that much faster.

Most years he’s successful – with the help of his kids and grand-kids. This year he’s having a difficult time breaking through the thicker ice – and he’s alone.

I’d offer my help, but I don’t need the ice to go out quicker. I will help retrieve him if he gets stuck out there.

He breaks up the ice to get his plane (beautiful Cessna 185 on floats) on the lake that much sooner.

He guns his outboard, gets a running start and climbs onto the ice.

He guns his outboard, gets a running start and climbs onto the ice.

He then attempts to reverse his boat off the ice, and back into the open lead he’s created.

He then attempts to reverse his boat off the ice, and back into the open lead he’s created.

Sometimes he’s successful at reversing.

Sometimes he’s successful at reversing.

If he cannot reverse off the ice, he starts breaking the ice with oars and hand tools.

If he cannot reverse off the ice, he starts breaking the ice with oars and hand tools.

He’ll make it across today or tomorrow. He’s more’n three-quarters across now.

He’ll make it across today or tomorrow. He’s more’n three-quarters across now.

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Ivory Nut

Saw our remaining Ivory Nut in the curio cabinet yesterday. I originally found three on our last trip to Pohnpei, and smuggled ‘em home.

My Ivory Nut carving talent on display

My Ivory Nut carving talent on display

On our two trips to Pohnpei, we bought many Ivory Nut carvings made in Kapingamarangi Village. We also bought quite a few wood carvings from the Kapinga Village, mainly turtles and sharks. We bought Ivory Nut carvings of turtles and sharks to give away as presents. My ex-girlfriend and daughters kept some as necklaces and car mirror hangings.

The three nuts had fallen from a tree and were lying on the ground. I gave two fresh, complete, unshelled nuts away to my dad and Uncle Brian. As they’re both into carving (sorta). It’s been three years, so I should ask how their Ivory Nut carvings are progressing.

We kept one ivory nut which had sat on the ground (wet, jungle floor) for a longer span. I assume it was a longer duration, since the shell had half-deteriorated. I then carved a heart into it with our Dremel Tool when we first returned home. A couple Pohnpeians told us the nut is easier to carve when still fresh. And sure enough, after drying out for months, the nut was, and still is, as dense as ivory. Even the brown half which soaked up water when sitting on the ground is ivory-hard.

Couple turtles carved from Ivory Nut

Couple turtles carved from Ivory Nut

Nut in a half shell

Nut in a half shell

Ivory Nut mobile from my daughter’s bedroom

Ivory Nut mobile from my daughter’s bedroom

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Mentasta Pass

When following the highway between Glennallen and Tok, you fly thru or over Mentasta Pass.

I’ve only flown thru Mentasta Pass ten times, and luckily, each flight has been relatively turbulence free. I’ve heard stories of hellacious winds and turbulence in Mentasta Pass which wake me up at night drenched in a cold sweat. But those stories are characteristics of all passes – name a pass in front of me, and my hands get clammy.

This March, when we flew from Mankomen Lake down the Slana River and through the pass towards Tok, there was a good headwind. We were making 50-60 MPH (as opposed to the normal 85’ish). But it was a steady wind, not bumpy.

On the return flight from Tok to Glennallen (Gulkana Airport) then Fire Lake, there were slight bumpy winds down low, so I climbed to 5,000 feet. That altitude is above mean sea level, the floor of Little Tok River valley is about 2,200 feet MSL to give a little scale. I enjoyed a sunny, calm, photo-taking early morning the entire flight to Gulkana.

Entering Little Tok River Valley

Entering Little Tok River Valley

Over Mineral Lakes, with Mentasta Pass ahead and to the left.

Over Mineral Lakes, with Mentasta Pass ahead and to the left.

Entering Mentasta Pass. Slana River headwaters to the right. To the left, Slana River flows into Copper River Basin.

Entering Mentasta Pass. Slana River headwaters to the right. To the left, Slana River flows into Copper River Basin.

Mentasta Pass, along the Tok Cut-Off Highway.

Mentasta Pass, along the Tok Cut-Off Highway.

Slana River flowing into the Copper Basin. Wrangell Mountains straight ahead.

Slana River flowing into the Copper Basin. Wrangell Mountains straight ahead.

And from May 2012, entering Mentasta Pass from the south (flying towards Tok) at a more respectable altitude.

And from May 2012, entering Mentasta Pass from the south (flying towards Tok) at a more respectable altitude.

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jinxin things again

I knew…knew…writing “goodbye winter” late last night would bring about the wrath. And sure nuff, this morning’s weather was opposite.

Ah well, no great drama, it’ll melt off quick.

And my youngest daughter says the snow makes this Easter the best ever.

Big snowflakes this morning

Big snowflakes this morning

I'm bettin this’ll turn into our biggest snowfall all winter

I’m bettin this’ll turn into our biggest snowfall all winter

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goodbye winter

Even tho the temperature was 20°F this morning, it is time to bid au revoir to winter.

We moved the cub to Merrill Field last Saturday. That’d be March 28. I was waiting to move the cub off the lake until April, just cuz. But all the stars aligned for flying into Anchorage that day.

Ropes are melting into the ice at our cub’s tie-down on the lake

Ropes are melting into the ice at our cub’s tie-down on the lake

Stowing winter gear is easy when the spring temps are 45°F.

Arrivederci snowshoes and some flying survival gear

Arrivederci snowshoes and some flying survival gear

Sayonara Bunny Boots

Sayonara Bunny Boots

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ice report March 23, 2015

Ice thickness on Fire Lake is 23 inches today. Without any snow cover remaining, I believe the sun will rot the ice quicker than past years.

We moved the cub offa the lake to Merrill Field last year on April 15, 2014 (that’d be Tax Day to some), and 2013’s move was on April 26. We’ll record this year’s move date for the database when it occurs.

Drill baby drill

Drill baby drill

No Pike swam to the light

No Pike swam to the light

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