Jessie reports on Alaska

So, basically, my only job this week is to try to not be my usual reckless, clumsy self and NOT FALL DOWN. I ended up getting stitches in my right knee after tripping and using a rock as a brake on wednesday, but we’ll get to that later. First, let me tell you all about the crazy awesome time I had with friends up in Alaska before camp started!

Swimming in the salty ocean around 9 pm...and its still so light out!

I flew up to camp on the 3rd of July, to spend a little extra time having some fun and seeing what all the Mt. Marathon fuss was about. It’s such a crazy scene down there! I got a ride to Seward with Peter Kling where I joined a bunch of APU skiers camping right next to the ocean. It was so beautiful! We celebrated Eric Packer’s birthday, had a campfire and went swimming in the ocean…twice. It never really got dark, so it was so hard to keep track of what time it was. I also really enjoy camping so sleeping in a tent borrowed from the Packer family on a gravel bar was just about perfect.

It's pretty fun to see how dramatic the tide changes are

Making S’mores! Celine Brun-lie is joining us for the camp from Norway. She is an incredibly fast skier and an even more incredible person! It has been really fun getting to know her and everyone has been very eager to show her all sorts of “American” things. Like, you know, s’mores and costco and “hint of lime tortilla chips”. Obviously we have our priorities straight.

Roasting up some s'mores

The next morning we hiked up the Mt. Marathon course to cheer on Holly and Lauren. We had feeds for them and water to dump on their heads since it was uncharacteristically hot out! After cheering them on from the halfway point, we wanted to check out the top so we kept going up. There were two glacial lakes up and over the top so we made a pit stop to cool down, and it was so cold I got an insta-brain-freeze. Since hindsight is 20/20 I have since learned not to dive into water that was previously glacial ice. Wading in is much better.

Time for adventure number 2! Celine and I got picked up at the Seward airport by Austin Johnson, a friend who is a ridiculously good pilot and really fun to fly with. When someone flies for RedBull, you know you’re in for a sweet ride! We swooped down low over the Harding ice field which was so crazy to see from up above…ice and snow spreading out in every direction through the mountains! The best part was probably the landing on the beach, where Don Hearing picked us up in a boat and took us over to his family’s cabin. I was lucky enough to spend some time there last year, so when the opportunity came I didn’t hesitate at all. I got to see more friends at Don’s cabin and meet new ones, and it was such a great weekend!

Don and Jack soaking up the sun in Halibut Cove

Some of the highlights were kayaking, swimming and having a bonfire on the beach every night.

Pretty sure this ranks as one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I've ever been.

Another cool adventure was hiking up to a the base of a glacier that was melting into a lake. Huge chunks of ice were floating around, and last year we hiked to the same place. I regretted not jumping in the water last year, so this time around I jumped right in! I climbed onto a ice chunk nearby and had my own personal floating iceberg. Pretty neat.

Early morning sunshine on the beach "runway"!

Then, sadly, it was time to get back to real life. Austin and his sister Grace flew Celine and I back, and it was so unbelievably beautiful going over the mountains.

Austin, our awesome pilot, and Grace up in the front!

I love how green everything is!

Someday I want to climb this and go for an epic ridge run

It was fun to see the mountains poking up through the clouds

Looking down on Turnagain Arm at low tide

We landed in Girdwood, where Celine and I had a couple hours to check out the annual Forest Fair before getting a ride to Anchorage from Holly, who was returning from her cabin after winning the Mt. Marathon race! The Forest Fair is like an artsy-craftsy version of a farmer’s market, on these trails in the woods. The live music was awesome and the food carts sure were tasty.

Celine enjoying the first live band of the day at the Forest Fair!

And then….boom! Camp started! We had a week of dry land training based out of Anchorage and then tomorrow we fly up to Eagle Glacier for a week of on-snow time. This is my 4th year at this camp and I really love it. Some of the roller ski routes are even becoming familiar, which is great since I tend to get lost on my own a lot.

However, I did have one minor mishap this week. After roller skiing in the hot sun up Hatcher Pass, I decided a little dip in the creek would be just perfect. I started walking down a steep bank, tripped and fell forward right onto a rock. I wish I had a better story, like saving a baby from a charging moose, but I hate liars and the sad truth is that I tripped while walking and sliced open my knee. My first (irrational) thought was that I should just go ahead and jump in the creek anyways. Then I looked down and saw my shoe filling with blood and yelled for the coaches. I had this quarter-sized hole in my knee with a flap of skin over it, and I was way too squeamish to even look under the flap.

Warning: if you are like me and don’t like blood, don’t look really carefully at the next few photos.

Pre-stitches bloody hole in my knee. Yum.

Luckily for me, Liz is going to be an outstanding nurse someday, so when we went to the ER she came right into the room with me and held my hand. I couldn’t look at anything going on and luckily I got a phone call just then so I had a great distraction while the doctor stuck his hand in my knee while cleaning it out and then sewed it back up. Liz has the great details from the event, so you’ll have to ask her since I didn’t watch.

This is the part that actually did hurt. Pushing the numbing solution into my knee.

The only part I felt was when the doctor initially numbed it, but after that I only felt weird tugging and skin being moved around. Thank goodness for that.

Ta-da! All stitched up. Thanks to Liz for all the knee photos!

The funny part about this is that I have been working so hard on improving my balance this year! As in, 1.5 hours of balance work each week. Guess it’s not paying off very quickly. I get a lot of crap for being so clumsy, but if I wasn’t born with great balance at least I was born with the guts to go roller skiing with fresh stitches. The awesome thing about being a XC racer is that your pain tolerance goes up and your idea of what’s ok to whine about shifts. If there’s a way to work around an injury and safely train, we do it!

So, the next morning I was back to training, and while my leg was a little stiff and I walked like Frankenstein for a few days trying not to bend my knee, it’s getting more mobility every day!

So now lets jump to a less awful subject. We have been invited to dinner at Sadie’s house, Zuzana Rogers’ house (our awesome PT for the camp!) and the Schumacher’s house, so a huge thanks to them for hosting us! We also did a bunch of team dinner nights, which is always fun and cozy when you get 8 people in a galley kitchen!

Liz cooking up some delicious homemade corn tortillas!

Way off topic, but…Liz and Eric Packer also made molds of their feet. They are sending them to Europe to get custom boots fitted, so we had a lot of fun playing with those. I think some really great practical jokes are going to happen this week.

Erika trying on Eric's feet for size...

Finally…the bears! I was pretty disappointed to have not seen a single moose or bear in my  10 days in Alaska, but then we got a lovely surprise last night around 10:30. Notice that I need to tell you what time it was, because you can’t tell from all the daylight in the photo. There is a Momma bear and her two cubs that has been wandering around the APU campus, and they found some rotten fish in a nearby garbage bin. We got to watch as they feasted and then finally walked off!

Momma bear digging some old fish out of the ski house trash. This was around 10:30 at night!

 

Momma bear leaving the campus scene with her fish and her cubs.

Tomorrow we take the insanely fun helicopter ride up to Eagle glacier! Thanks in advance to Deb and Keith from Alaska Air for always getting us safely up to camp!

-JD

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