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Showing posts from November, 2016

Intrepid, and not so intrepid, trail blazers of the Yukon

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(Lou, Yukon)
We put in a trail across the river last week. How do we know if the ice is safe? We walk on to it, hit it with an axe, and wait to see if we plunge through. Yes, really. We’re clever folk out here in the bush. 


It’s hard to improve on this process as you’ve got to go on to the ice to test it. My best idea so far is, get your husband to walk ahead carrying the axe because “my arms are a bit tired” and have him do it. 

We can make a fairly good judgement about where to go. We don’t have any open water (leads) in front of the house and, as the river stopped in a huge jagged mess, we know most of the ice is safe. 


If it is “jumbled” it will be thick, maybe 20’ eventually, as the chunks of ice are piled on to each other. Also opaque ice is usually thicker, older. The places to test are flat areas with black ice as they may be recently frozen. 
We chip our way across them with the axe, cutting down to at least 3 inches. If water comes up, panic, push your husband in front of you, tu…

Spectacular freeze up and some new curtains

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(Lou, Yukon)
Temperatures have dropped at last. Not far, to -25C, but we are delighted. I don’t know why, as wearing a neck-ring over your mouth and nose that’s frozen with snot and rubs like a cheese grater is not pleasant, nor is having your fingers ache with cold inside your mitts. But the pay-off is that strange, stiff winter beauty. 



Layer upon layer of hoar frost feathers every surface, the sky is a deeper, crisper blue and the stars seem to blink themselves awake in the brittle night air. 
On our first day of cold, the river suddenly gorged itself with ice. The pans clung together, and began to join the ice shelf advancing sideways into the flowing water from the bank. 



By afternoon the crackling of ice flows turned to groaning and popping. We got to the bank in time to see water flood under the ice shelf and straight towards us. 




The shelf lifted, then ground, thumped and shattered itself into huge, perfectly-shaped geometric pieces. Their edges caught the still flowing water which…

Meltdown in Wonderland

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(Lou, Yukon)
We went to +5C this week (average temps should be around -20). A warm wind soared up the river and took the snow from our roof and yard. Yet again, the ice pans in the river shrank and softened. 


The Yukon river usually freezes by mid-November. Not this year. 


If the river does not freeze safely enough for us to travel on it we are completely cut off from the world until, maybe May when the river is ice-free again and we can get the boat back in. 


We decided we will do an inventory of our food and supplies on 1st December, if the river has not stopped, and work out what we might need to ration.

It may be a lonely winter.

Oh well, time to do all the bottom of the list things like, learn to bake cakes (til we run out of ingredients), write that novel, learn to meditate and…well I don’t know, but I refuse to take up embroidery.



It was Neil’s birthday so we took a hike up the hill to catch a brief midday glimpse of the sun. Today it rose at 9.30 and will set at 4pm, but it hasn’t re…