because this pic's taken on the third straight day of 45 degree temperatures, clear skies, and golden sunshine 'till after 9 pm......and he's out pulling trail markers.
this means we are effectively declaring our trails kaput for hauling.
which has been a long day coming. Over the past three weeks, we've made runs into town at a ludicrous pace, bringing in a years supply of fuel, 2 months worth of groceries, furniture, construction supplies, etc. etc.....more on that later....
this day was a glorious day. the shot above was taken on our trail to the Susitna River, about 6 miles out from the lodge.
the shot below is from about 10 miles, a different viewing angle (by about 45 degrees) on Mt.Susitna than I normally get.
so it's sunny, warm, beautiful views, the world's melting around me, and I am whistling a happy tune (actually, I'm listening to the Black Keys in the "moose" shot) as I slow-pedal my ass down the trail.
Why is this man smiling?
Because this day is the last time he's going to be driving a snow-mobile this far down the trail.
After 4 days on, 1 off, 5 days on, 1 off, 3 days on.....of riding up and down these trails, 84 mile shots at a time....going to bed at 1 am after a day of some at times absolutely brutal riding, thinking, "what am I doing tomorrow?.....that's right, another 84 miles.....".
I won't lie to you, it's a gorgeous 84 miles....and there wasn't a single day of running that I didn't feel awe at least once as I looked at the world around me....but as the trails fell apart (about two weeks early, due to that handy volcanic ash all over the place) it became like riding a mountain bike in a quarry for 84 miles. Not to mention the at-times ludicrous loads we were pulling around said quarry....I'll get around to you, loads...
why is this man smiling?
because this day was a good day. Riding gently along this trail on this day, pulling markers as I go, means that there is too much sunshine for far too long, too many warm days, too much green bustin' out, for the snow (and this trail) to exist much longer. It means that Spring is truly upon us, that Winter is dead where he stands....and I can laugh as I watch him fall, in anticipation of dancing on his grave. Which makes pulling markers feel like plucking hi-viz orange flowers of victory out of the snow's feeble grasp.
And f*ck me if it wasn't a beauty day to take a ride. The below shot is overlooking Alexander Creek (and the mountain again (from a slightly different angle), about 5 miles out of the lodge.
so...all of the dark, crusty areas in the photo above are where the volcanic ash is getting medieval on the snow, really accelerating the melting process....good on ya, ash! God bless ya, Mt. Redoubt, as far as I'm concerned. F*ck you, snow.
except that...the darker circle of ash in the lower left-hand corner of the shot is actually carbon-based, rather than volcanic, in nature.
During one of the races this winter, a race volunteer (we'll call him X) told us that his long time friend had recently died.....and had asked X (prior to the actual act of dying) to scatter his ashes on the Iditarod trail.
Which go and scatter them X did, after asking us for suggestions on picturesque spots.
actually, I'm not sure if "dumped", rather than "scattered", might not be more appropriate verbiage, judging by the spray pattern captured in the photo.
regardless, a mitzvah was done.
And it's certainly not a bad spot to hang out in for eternity. the shot below is from the Dust's angle/point-of-view.
a week ago, that Dust was covered by a few feet of snow, and in another week, it'll be in the soil. So the day held sights & surprises of good timing.
Why is this man smiling?
because this day means that the days depicted in the shots below are over and.....with a teary tip o'the cap to Harry the K....outta here.
So, above is the sled hauling in empty 55-gallon fuel drums, below is a shot of full drums returning from town. The top load weighed about 150 lbs, the load below around 1500.
Besides the weight factor, there is a slight adjustment in mental attitude when transitioning from pulling a bunch of empty plastic jugs around to hauling a bomb.
We ended up bringing in 17 drums of diesel fuel; 8 drums of regular gas; about a dozen 100 lb/ half a dozen 40 lb /and two dozen 20 lb bottles of propane (the 20 lb bottle is your standard gas grill size).
I'm yanking 1500 lbs of explosives around every day, all over the F*cking AK...with a snowmobile...on a g*ddamm frozen river...WTF??
above is the "Fuel Point"....so we only have one big crater, rather than a dozen little ones, on the estate....
yeah, that's a riding lawnmower......my life is ridiculous....
So why is this man smiling?
Because this day unshackles the mind to anticipate days that are only a few weeks away.....days that some friends have expressed concern/disbelief as to their actual existence....days like the one below...days when the lake's in blue, the whole world's in green, and me in my summer-time clothes....