Saturday, March 31, 2007

100 km ski--Well, not really

Dan, Tina, John and I decided to ski on the Tanana River between the small town of Nenana and the thriving metropolis of Fairbanks. In the past, this was the route of the Alaska Ultraski, which is a 100km race upriver to the Pump House restaurant in Fairbanks. The race was cancelled this year. So with abundant sunshine and the first above freezing temperatures since October (other than 1 hour back on Dec 9th when the it soared to 34F) -- we decided to have a relaxing day out in the warmth and fast snow.

Ouch!! --were we in for some torture. We left Nenana with light winds and then about 30 minutes out we were buffeted by a strong steady 15 to 20 mph headwind. After 50 km it was brutal and demoralizing. I would have to compare it to skiing a continuous incline with no break. It really wiped us out physically and mentally. After skiing across Finland a few weeks ago we thought we were in top notch shape. Not! The wind died down about 7 hours into the ski so the last stretch was quite pleasant. The entire trip felt like 100+ km but the GPS doesnt lie and we were surprised to see that its really only 82 km. So it took us about 10 hours to finally get to Fairbanks. I have done the race in the past and skied the same distance in under 5 hours. I still cant quite figure out why it took so long...

Here is a topo map of the Tanana River between Nenana and Fairbanks. There is no road access in between so once you hit the trail on the river you are committed to the unknown. Nenana is in the bottom left corner and Fairbanks is in the upper right. They say its 100km--but the GPS proved this to be incorrect.

Dan and Tina start removing layers -- this is minutes before we encountered the chilly wind. Dan eventually ditched us and made it to town about 2 hrs faster...although we spent a total of 3 hrs eating, resting, and cursing the wind.

John takes a break with the doggies.

Fernie chilling out in the snow

Me and Tina are ecstatic because we are finally out of the F!%&#ING headwind.

The trail was in was in great shape and the snow on the river was windblown into an intricate pattern of mounds--pretty cool.

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