My Spring Break

This post doesn’t have anything to do with Alaska, but I thought it would be cool to talk about what I did during my break. Last week, my swim team and I went to Colorado Springs and trained. Each day we had two hard practices, one usually at 5:30 AM and the other sometime during the afternoon. Other than swimming, we went rock climbing, saw Garden of Gods, went hiking, played laser tag and listened to lots of people give talks. I recognized a few Olympians- Katie Ledecky, Jessica Hardy and Jason Brown.

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Here’s a shot of the pool. Along the side there was the flag where every Summer Olympics has been.

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Here was at the training center after morning practice one day.

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Looking up the Incline Hike and realizing how many more stairs I need to do.

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This was a trail that we walked on that was surrounded by “The Garden of the Gods” which were huge boulders.

Here's my friends and I on our last practice of the trip happy that we survived the week.

Here’s my friends and I on our last practice of the trip happy that we survived the week.

Overall, it was a really fun, tiring trip. What did you do on your Spring Break? If you’re not in school, then were did you go on your last trip?

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Petersburg, AK

Petersburg AK, a small 3,200 person town. It’s known as Little Norway because it was bought by Norwegian fishermen 100 years ago. Petersburg is on the northern part of Mitkof Island, nearby Wrangell. It has one of the largest commercial fishing ports in the world! It also has the largest home-based halibut fleet in Alaska. During the summer there can be lots of tourists from small cruise ships, by ferry, but during the winter it is much more isolated.

Here is our cabin that overlooks the Wrangell Narrows

Here is our cabin that overlooks the Wrangell Narrows

 

photo 2The entire town basically revolves around fishing, since it was founded by fishermen. Everyone is related in some way, by their dad being a fisherman, to a friend, or brother. My family has a cute cabin ten miles out the road. Basically every time I am there, while driving out to our cabin, we see multiple deer just munching away at grass. Our cabin overlooks the Wrangell Narrows and the water goes right up to our cabin, since our cabin is on stilts. It has a great view at sunset with the sun reflecting on the waters.

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At high tide the water goes right underneath the cabin

Mayfest is annual festival Petersburg has which is in celebration of the town’s Norwegian culture. There is music, a parade, a walk/run race, lots of both Alaskan and Norwegian food, and much more. I’ve been to several Mayfests before which are usually right around my birthday, so it is a lot of fun!

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Downtown there is basically one street that has all the shops and few restaurants that are all family owned, and  everyone really does know everyone else. I really like Petersburg, and I’m excited to be spending a lot of time this summer there at our cabin. Do you think you would like  to visit Petersburg, Alaska?

Three great hot springs

I’ve been to several really nice hot springs in Alaska. Hot springs are produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth’s crust. Some have a really strong nasty sulfur scent, but others don’t have it nearly as bad. Here’s three great hot springs in Alaska that I would recommend to anyone that is in the area any time soon!

1. Baranof Hot Springs

On the eastern side of Baranof Island, this location has a large dock where you can park your boat. Then you can walk up the boardwalk for about 15 minutes till you get near the waterfall where there is a really small hot springs hiding. I would have to say that this is probably my favorite of the three because of how deep into the forest and pretty it is, and the great view of the waterfall.

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There are a few different small pools, and all get to overlook a huge rushing waterfall. It’s even fun to go to hot springs on rainy days so you can warm you up.

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2. White Sulfur Hot Springs

This one is located Chichagof Island about 65 miles northwest of Sitka. This is an absolutely gorgeous location for a warm springs, with one outdoor, and an indoor. I have been here tons of times with my family. If you ever do end up going to this one, just be aware that you may run into a group of naked people., which can be a bit awkward at times. There is a fun rope swing in the indoor springs, and theres some really cool artwork people that visited it carved into the wood walls of the building.

3. Cheena Hot Springs

Located northeast of Fairbanks, this is a absolutely stunning place. I visited this one when my family and I road tripped across Alaska. The hot springs are huge and there is a really cool Ice museum and also there is a dog kennel where you can actually try dog mushing. This one is a bit more touristy than the other two because of the resort, but it still has a great hot spring. Also, if you go at the right time of year, you can get a awesome view of the northern lights. How perfect would it be to be in a nice huge hot springs, while watching colorful northern lights right above your head.

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Have you ever been to a hot spring? If so, where?

Love for the water

Maybe it’s because I have grown up always around water, from swimming practice everyday, having a boat, being in the rain, but I have always loved it.

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This picture was taken out at my friends house in Juneau this January when I was lucky enough to spend my winter break back up in Alaska. We walked along the beach, snapped some pics then went home and baked a cake for her mom’s birthday. It was super foggy that day, so I like how it was captured in this photo. The channel seemed like it had nothing in, even though there is a boat harbor right downtown.

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This picture was taken a week or so ago when my friend and I were getting distracted after a swim practice. Even though it was a rainy day outside we still had practice. I actually really like practicing in the rain because it’s better than the typical sunny day here in Santa Barbara.

IMG_4723Lastly, this picture was taken at a swim meet a few weeks ago in Ventura. California was having a huge storm and I was stuck at a swim meet during it. I was up on the blocks about to race, while it was pouring down rain, and lightning struck! The meet was postponed for half an hour, then we had to finish prelims. During the afternoon, finals were actually canceled because of how much rain there was so we didn’t have to swim. I was so exciting having my first swim meet outside in the rain, because in Alaska all meet are indoors because the pool water would definitely freeze during the winter.

I know this post isn’t exactly about Alaska, but are you one of those people that love the rain or hate it?

Kayaking in the ocean’s beauty

Something I think that all people should try sometime in their lifetime is kayaking! It’s a great way to explore new places while getting a workout.

A kayak is basically just a long narrow canoe which you paddle. It is a lot of fun to paddle around because you are so close to the water, unlike being in a normal sized boat. I would reccomend it to anyone who wants to try something new and loves being out on the water.

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Last summer my friend Eliza and I paddled across the channel which separates Juneau and Douglas Island and it was pure bliss on the center of the channel with the sunset right near downtown. Also, we were lucky that is was a super moon too, which is when the moon is the closest it ever will be to Earth during its elliptical orbit. The moon was huge behind us and the sunset in front. I couldn’t capture a photo of the moon, because my iphone could not give it justice.

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It was pretty funny because we were slowly paddling back, while still in the center of the channel when we hear her dad screaming at us to hurry because a cruise ship was coming! It wasn’t that close but we rushed back to shore, stumbling over the waves the huge boat creates. Another time kayaking, without realizing it, my friend and I got really close to a humpback whale. Terrified, we rowed as fast as we could in the opposite direction.

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Have you ever tried kayaking?

The Crazy Dog Sled Race

In honor of the Iditarod 2014 coming to an end, I though I should share how cool it is. The Iditarod is a famous dog sled race that is approximately 1200 miles, and the longest race in the world. It starts in Anchorage, Alaska and ends in Nome, Alaska. The fastest person to ever complete the race took 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes and 2 seconds.

Photo by Bob Hallinen, Anchorage Daily News

Photo by Bob Hallinen, Anchorage Daily News

Yesterday, Dallas Seavey won the race for the second time, and Aliy Zirkle finishing in second by 2 minutes and 22 seconds. This is the third year in a row she has gotten second place. The closest a race has been was by the tip of the lead dogs nose in 1978 when the winner won by only one second.

In total, there are 26 checkpoints on the northern route and 27 on the southern one. Most Iditarod’s have about 65 teams of about 16 dogs each. Each dog is implanted with a track-able microchip in addition to its collar tag. Veterinarians are available to treat the dogs at each checkpoint, where mushers also stock up on dog food, and dogs wear booties to protect their feet. If any dog gets injured it’s flown to Eagle River to be cared for until it’s musher finishes the race.

This year there is very little snow, making the race even harder. Temperatures can drop down to -100 F, with high winds. The last musher to finish the race get the Red Lantern award which honors his or her perseverance.

Would you ever be brave enough to race in the Iditarod?

Deadliest Catch

When you ask a typical fifteen year old girl what their summer consists of, they probably wouldn’t say what I would. Last summer I commercial fished on my aunts boat, and this summer I’m working on my dad’s. We catch several different types of salmon: chum, sockeye, pink, and coho. The fishing is not nearly as intense and scary as the TV show Deadliest Catch, but it still can be nerve wracking at times.

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A pretty sunset during an opener

You can only fish during openers which are usually from Sunday at noon-Wednesday at noon. During that time you are basically trying to fish as much as possible, sometimes fishing throughout the night. In between openers you usually go back to town and prepare for the next opener and fix any problems. I gill net, which is basically setting out a vertical net of in a straight line. One side of the net has lead in it so it sinks, and the other side of the net has corks so it floats. Fish get caught in the net by usually their gills or fins, and when you reel back in the net, you pick out the fish.

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Chum salmon piled on top of eachother

Last summer I got really good at telling apart the different species of salmon, because each one is sold for a different price; some being much more than others. There’s other types of of commercial fishing like seining, trolling and long lining. It’s a lot of work, but pretty fun when you are catching lots of fish!

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Another gorgeous sunset

Do you think you would like fishing as a summer job?

Sports traveling adventures

Unlike in California where you can easily just get in your car and drive a few hours to get where you need to go, and drive home right after, in Juneau it’s not quite like that. First off, it’s land-locked meaning there is no way to drive out of the small town. People think it would be super annoying that your basically stuck there, but it doesn’t seem like that while you’re there. So, there are several options to get out of town.

1) Take an Alaskan Airlines flight. They can be anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours or so to get across the state.

2) Take a float plane if you’re going to a small island or place without a airport.

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3) Take a long ferry ride-usually about 4-24 hours, or some other boat.

The air flowing in my face on a ferry a few years ago

The air flowing in my face on a ferry a few years ago

So once you make it out of town, the next part of the journey begins. If your destination is somewhere in Southeast Alaska, which basically makes up a big spread out community, and you are there for a sports trip, then you get to house which is a alternative to staying at a hotel.

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From the back of a ferry

Housing is when your sports teams gets to stay at peoples houses that you are playing against. It can be strange because you are living with them during the time you are there, and you may have never met them before. I have had some interesting experiences housing in Alaska. One time my teammate and I stayed with a family who farmed all of their food, and had goats and chickens, and we had to help. Another time, we stayed at a house that each person in their large family had like 5 allergies and a few of them were deathly. However, I have stayed at some houses with great people, and made some new friends during sports trips in Southeast. Would you like to stay at your competitions home?

~Lexi

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!

There’s some amazing animals in Alaska, that I’ve luckily spotted in the wild.

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During the summer, I have had bears in my backyard and have had them stand right outside my door. As adorable as cubs are, their mothers are very protective. My family and I have a funny ritual that every year, when we take our first boat trip after bears end hibernation, and who ever see’s the first bear the of season would get a chocolate bar.

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A black bear seen on my porch last summer.

Most times you’re on the water, depending on where you are, you can see humpback whales or orca’s. The documentary Blackfish sadly shows the conditions that orca’s are put through when captured for places like Sea World. It’s hard to explain how intriguing it is to watch humpback whales bubble feed. Bubble feeding is when a pod of whales work together to catch their food. One whale makes a large ring of bubbles, which little fish and plankton won’t swim through, so they are trapped. All of the whales rise upward and get all of the food they need and leap out of the water.

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In Juneau, out near the glacier there is a lake called Mendenhall Lake where people go to skate, cross country ski and skate ski. My parents would go their almost every day and ski loops around the lake. There used to be a black wolf that would always be there for about five years. People in Juneau gave him the name Romeo, and he was harmless. I was lucky enough to see the him couple times before a guy shot him for no apparent reason and he got in a lot of trouble.

Moose!

Moose!

There are tons of other animals found in Alaska, and it is so pleasing to see them in their natural habitat. Whats your favorite animal you’ve seen in the wild?

A hike to remember

Two years ago, during the month of July, a few of my friends and our mom’s hiked the Chilkoot Trail. It is a 33 mile hike where you begin in Dyea, Alaska, and then ends up in Lake Bennett in British Columbia, Canada. It took us about 4 and a half days, but we took our leisure time admiring the sights and beautiful surroundings. The hike began as a long flat stretch, which leads you up to the Chilkoot Pass which is a very steep rocky incline. There were some absolutely breathtaking campsites, where oranges, reds and greens coat the hills.

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A pretty swaying bridge going over a stream.

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The steep, but fun Chilkoot Pass.

This hike is very historical because this is the hike that prospectors and packers had to do to get through the mountains during The Gold Rush. A unbelievable part of it was that Canadian officials required that stampeders take about one ton of goods with them, to try to ensure they were prepared to survive on the frontier. Their packing list included clothing essentials, as well as rolled oats, flour, salt, and bacon. The weight ranged from between 20 pounds to 400 pounds for one ingredient. So each man had to make lots of runs ranging from 40-100 lbs, then they would have to go back and bring another load.

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The decline down into Canada.

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Mountains and more mountains.

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After the hike was complete we took The White Pass Train back to Alaska.

When we got back to Skagway, we had a feast of pasta and ice cream, and then we took the ferry back to Juneau. It was a great hike and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys adventuring into new territory.

Would you like to do this hike?

~Lexi