Friday, December 18, 2009

Roommate Trip

Our paddle out

Emily Buck with our whale friends

Whale Tail

The roommates with the whales

The river before the trailhead

Sunset on Salmon Lake

Old Growth

The crew

Sunset on our return

Last weekend we took a roommate boomsham in our new kayaks, 3 out of the 4 of us purchased kayaks this past fall. The kayaks have opened up MANY adventure doors and our accessibility is now 10 fold what it once was. This past weekend it was to the salmon lake forest service cabin. To reach Salmon lake we took a 6 mile paddle out to trail head and then a 2 mile hike to the cabin through an old growth forest. Before we hiked the trail to the cabin 2 humpbacks decided to put on a show for us, one word... AMAZING!

And a thanks to ... Emily Buck for her fabulous photography. She makes nearly all my blogs possible.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What did you do for Thanksgiving?

While the Bradford extended family gathered on the SC coast I also found myself on a beach this Thanksgiving season.

However instead of driving in a car and a staying in a fancy house (not that either of those things are bad) I took a troller, then a seven mile hike across Kruzof Island to a remote cabin with no running water and a wood stove as its source of heat. Instead of sharing the beach with hundreds of other travelers, it was a private beach with the only other people inhabiting it being the nine other people in our party.

While there other than eating the events were many: writing a Alaskan Ballad, endlessness songs, long romantic walks on the beach, giant swings, and having my friends wade through freezing cold 5 foot water at high tide trying to get across an estuary. The culminating event was a fiesta pizza from our local American, Mexican, Italian restaurant.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You know you're in Alaska when...

You walk up to a group of boys on the playground, one who is lying on a snow mound with his tongue hanging out and ask curiously, "boys what are you up too?" and one urgently responds "We are playing search and rescue, Brain got caught in an avalanche and is buried in the snow so we are digging him out!"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Things I am thankful for:

#1: SNOW! Which is currently falling softly from the sky. Yesterday we roommates had our first snowball fight of the season. It feels as if hot chocolate and mint tea are here to stay. Here is the view from my bedroom window:

This year I have finally invested in a few things that I should have done years ago, which brings me to the second thing I am thankful for... #2: insulated curtains. This weekend Ben Franklin, yes those are still around, had a large fabric sale, so I made my move. After looking at every fabric in the store I settled on a green, which matches my cobalt blue, fuchsia, and green duvet cover. Now I don't have to move to the far side of the bed away from the window to fall asleep at night.

Which brings me to the 3rd fabulous invention I am thankful for: A space heater! Saturday, the same day I bought my curtain fabric, my sweet boyfriend bought me a space heater. He told me it was insanely cold in my room and how was I ever going to get healthy living like that, so now my room is completely winterized. And I am sometimes getting what they call hot in my room. I didn't even turn on my space heater last night because I had gotten so warm the night before.

#4: Knit scarfs are also a lifesaver around here. In this picture above is the scarf I wear daily. It is one my cousins gave me for Christmas a few years ago, and I have been ever so thankful for it since my move to Sitka. My goal this winter is to become a more fluent knitter. Mittens and socks are my humble goal.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Saturday November 14, 2009:
Here is the weather for my homes:

Sitka, AK 9:55AM:

44 degrees, feels like 33 degrees, cold and windy

sunrise: 7:42
sunset: 3:49

Total daylight hours: 8 hours and 7 minutes

Asheville, NC 1:56PM:

72 degrees, feels like 72 degrees, sunny

sunrise: 7:05
sunset: 5:24

Total daylight hours: 10 hours and 19 minutes

York, SC 1:57PM:

71 degrees, feels like 71 degrees, sunny

sunrise: 6:59
sunset: 5:20

Total daylight hours: 10 hours and 22 minutes

Reasons I haven't Blogged Lately...

Excuse #1: It has been too cold in my house and when I type for extended periods my figures get really cold and turn into what feels something close to an ice box. Even just now I just had to blow on my hands to warm them up. It is definitely getting colder here, we even had our first snowfall of the year yesterday!

Excuse #2: I have been terribly sick for the last 2 1/2 weeks, and I am doing good to get myself feed much less able to write in my blog, this too sadly is true! I haven't even been cooking! Which reminds me for all you chiefs out there you'll be impressed with this site.

Excuse #3: It gets dark now at 4:30 in the afternoon and therefore my blogging opportunities has decreases substantially. I don't know why AK insists upon conforming to day lights saving time. I know that Arizona has rebelled, and I think we should follow their lead.

Excuse #4: I think that I might have tried one or two times, but I haven't had much to say, not that my life has been dull and boring, but it might resemble that if one really were to study my recent activity level: I haven't run in months, climbed mountains, or really ventured out much these days. This of coarse being an involuntary choice of action due to an unfortunate series of events.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Middle School Cross Country

Middle School Hmmm.... Would you go back?

When I was a middle schooler my dream was to be either a camp counselor or a CC coach when I grew up. Well I've done the camp counselor thing for many a summer, but never had I ever been an official CC coach before...

until now,

When I was asked I couldn't turn it down.

Middle School Cross Country isn't too different from High School Cross Country, just they have even more energy, if you can imagine, and the boys are quite a bit shorter.

We had 40 kids come out for the 2009 Blatchley Middle School season, it was the cool thing to do this year. And considering the school only has 300 kids, I now know 1/6th of the students. It was my first official coaching position and a LOT of fun. I couldn't believe that I actually liked middle schoolers, it was something I had avoided for the last 13 years of my life.

On Thursday we traveled to Juneau for our first and last meet of the season. Out of the 100 kids racing 9 students were from Sitka. We walked away with 1 first place overall and 2 first places for the 7th grade category. We also had another 3rd place overall, not bad for the underdogs. Unfortunately for us they did not keep team scores because it was a definite that the Sitka boys beat both Juneau schools, pretty embarrassing considering both schools are twice as large.

Overall coaching and middle school was better than I had envisioned. I am already looking forward to the 2010 season!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall Colors

One of my most appreciated gifts since my move here to Sitka was a big bundle of leaves that had fallen from a wide variety of different types of trees in the NC mountains. Thank you Laura Martin. After 7 falls in the NC mountains, I thought fall colors here in Sitka were a joke. These aren't fall colors they are just some phony rendition.

In Sitka our primary trees are conifers: Sitka Spruce
, Western Hemlock, and the Cedar. And they are majestic in their own way. My personal favorite is the Sitka Spruce. I think the Sitka Spruce deserves its own featured blog soon, and its beauty sings to me each time I lay eyes on them. I think it is the rich deep color of the wood and and incredible girth that allures me to this particular tree.

One of the trails here, Beaver Lake, meanders along a sub-alpine lake and takes you deep into an old growth forest. The old growth forest is covered in Spruce. The quantity and stature of this tree creates a feeling that I can't imagine being duplicated anywhere on earth. I think, if I were able to pick a favorite tree, it stands tall on the Beaver Lake trail. I call the tree the candy cane tree, and it really sings to me each time I pass it on the trail.

With that said I still miss the reds, oranges, pinks, yellows and all the colors in between that are created from the magical forest of the blue ridge mountains in the fall. I find myself missing those mountains so much this time of year, the brisk wind on my back, and the leaves that land on my head as I biked along the Parkway or throw the apple orchards.
Fall here is nice, but it isn't like back home.

Welcome fall at all that comes with it. October is no longer my favorite month here, instead I love the white of winter and the bright spring days but I am glad it has finally come. What is your favorite season?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back on my Feet

Today Paul and I went for a run in Totem Park. He is still nursing his sprained ankle from our Chilkoot endeavors, and I am definitely still not 100%, however we couldn't wait any longer to see what would happen. It wasn't especially long (a 5K) or strenuous (about 75%), but it felt great to be back on our feet FINALLY, 3 weeks and 6 days later. Through this experience I know we both have grown a much stronger appreciation of the physical health of our bodies and the enjoyment that comes from maintaining that health. My grandpa suggests yoga....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why did I run the Chilkoot Trail?

No questions asked running is my favorite thing to do. I have been doing it FOREVER, well since 2nd grade to be exact. If I am getting the story correct I think my track career began after a bad day at gymnastics practice. The instructors had tried to forced me to do a SPLIT! I said enough was enough and made it clear to my mom that gymnastics was NOT the place for me and informed her I would instead prefer to run track. I don't know where I got the idea, but I know soon after that conversation I found myself in an OTIS tracker uniform, and my life from that day forward would never be the same.

Although I never made it to the Olympics, I did have some glory days...

One of those moments was in 6th grade. I walked home with the South Carolina 11-12 year old division 1600m race walking state title! Yep, shear talent. I think I walked a sub 9-minute mile. Pretty impressive. Then, In Junior High, back in the day when they had Junior High, I said goodbye my Rock Hill YMCA track teammates and joined the High School CC team. No state titles here, but my love of running continued. In college I got into marathons, then triathlons. While in Asheville, due to the lack of trials I ran less and biked more, however I kept running.

Here in Sitka I have been on the trials since day one. They are AMAZING, beautiful and right out my back door. I think Sitka's trial system is the BEST in the world. I run nearly everyday, that is until the Chilkoot trial.

I have been injured since the 33 mile trial run 2 1/2 weeks ago. To quote my mother "running the 33 mile trial was dumb," and I don't believe it was necessarily the smartest idea, but it was definitely not dumb. However, I should have been a little more physically ready for sure and because the trial, for me, ended in a stress fracture.

But this 2 1/2 week break has confirmed my love of running. Everyday I stare and mountains and yearn to hit the trials climbing them. It is painful to hear of my friends running adventures. This is the time of year that the trials are free of snow and the sun is still high in the sky until late in the night. It is one of the best times to be on the trials, however I sit, nursing a stress fracture. My doctor says give it 4 weeks, which means I have 1 1/2 to go, and that is the most optimistic time table. So until then I wait. I cancel my spot in the Klondike 110 mile road relay I participated in last year. I play my banjo, dream about future adventures and think about why I run.

I run because it feels good. I run because it gets me outside in the fresh air. I run because that is where I process my day. I run because it is a release and stress reliever. I run because there are awesome trials beside my house and because it keeps me in shape. It keeps me mentally and physically acute. I run because I love it. I hope to be doing it forever.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let's run the Chilkoot Trail


So I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed to run the Chilkoot Trail with my 70 year old friend Glenn.

The trail is 33 miles, most people hike this historical trail over the coarse of 4-5 days with a backpack. Glenn wanted me to run it. Crazy.

A little about Glenn, he is my favorite new friend of the summer. He moved to Sitka in 1959 and watched AK become a state. He met his first wife (and only wife, this is how he always refers to her) in Sitka and then they moved to Juneau where he has lived every since. He started trail running because he got a lot of heck running on the roads. He wore jeans and flannel shirts. Every time he saw someone one the trail he would start walking because otherwise they would think he was crazy. 50 years later he is still running, just as fast as ever. He runs with a group of runners in Juneau called the "Smokin Old Geezers." He founded the group and they run every Sunday morning at 7:30 am.

I was lucky enough to meet this man my first week in Juneau this summer. After I meet Glenn the running never stopped. We were running 3 or 4 times a week up summits and across ridge lines. Our first run was up Mnt. Roberts. When we got to the summit he looked at me and said "Well Emlaa (He calls me Emlaa not Emily) if you are going to run with the geezers you've got to be part mnt. goat" and he then jumped off the peek and rode down 1800 ft., in approximately 3 minutes, on his butt. I followed. His day job consists of building a kitchen for his first wife (he is a retired carpenter), and the rest of his time is spent running.

Everyone in town knows him. He has records all over the country and he recruited me to run the Chilkoot Trail, 33 miles with another one of his running buddies Geoff (one of the 5 Gs) and the best 100 miler in the nation, who had just finished running Crow Pass an intense 24 mile AK trail race and blew 7 minutes off the trail record the month prior. Great. What was I thinking?

So I begin recruiting other runners. Aaron and Paul were roped in, Paul the morning before we left. We left on the ferry Thursday and made it to Skagway Friday, just in time for our 8 hour Saturday trail run. Returning home Sunday. Monday consisted of a lot of sitting and today finally I pulled myself up for a nice bike ride.

It was hard, long, insane, but I wouldn't have done it any other way. It was my last hurrah before school begins tomorrow.

* More ferry time, I can never get enough of the Alaska Marine Highway
* The Glennisms, he makes every trip more fun
* The trail itself, BEAUTIFUL
* mile 33
* that I am still alive

The good omens:
* Nancy, a sweet Juneaunite angel whom didn't know us and invited us stay at her house, made us a fresh Salmon dinner and was our chauffeur
* Sprinkles on Paul's hot chocolate
* The Canadian railroad workers who gave us a free train ride out of the trail so we didn't have to run an additional 8 miles
* That we all finished with minimal injuries, Geoff could have done it 3 more times no sweat, but that wasn't the case for the rest of us

Glenn wants me to return to Juneau again this weekend for a 50K relay. Hmmmm...

Bike Trip: 5 days 600K later...

Before this trip the furthest I had ever gone on a bike all at once was 80miles. Yep, it is true, I was a little nervous about this trip. Especially the 3300 ft climb for the first 12 miles.

However it was all in vain, everything was perfect: the company, the scenery, the food... a gift. This summer I was lucky enough to spend 5 days on a bike trip of a lifetime with my buddy Heang. This trip had been talked about an anticipated for months. I found our later that Heang thought I was going to bail the whole time. Silly.

Heang road tripped up from NC and spent a week here in Sitka training. I had him climbing mountains the first 3 days he was here. We also found trailers for our bikes and eliminated many things that we wanted to pack for fear of caring too much weight. The grand total weight of our trailer content wasn't much more than 30 pounds but the trailers themselves weighed 17 pounds putting us at about 45 pounds of additional weight.

We left from Skagway and ended up in Haines 600K later. Each day came with new adventures many involving delicious food and as much sleep as possible. Eat, bike, eat, bike, eat, bike, sleep, was what each day looked like. We also laughed quite a bit. Everything is 10 times more funny when you are exhausted.

Overall the trip was perfect. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love summers, adventures, and friendships. Perhaps this same time next year I will be writing a blog about my 2010 summer bike tour.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

south kakalakee

Home and back... blur but fantastic and always delicious!