Hello Spring!

Goodbye cruel winter

IT’S TELLING THAT I STORE EACH YEAR’S March snapshots in a folder labeled “Spring” rather than “Winter.” By March, we in the northern latitudes are all too ready to call a sunny 20-degree day spring. Psychologically, it boosts our spirits after the dark days of October, November, December, and January, and frosty February.

As with any good spring cleaning, we here at Alaska magazine are tossing out the old and ushering in the new. Say goodbye to “Where in Alaska?” on the last page and please welcome a humor column, called “ is Alaskan Life,” by Susan Dunsmore, a long-time Alaskan with a penchant for pointing out our state’s peculiarities.

Spring in Alaska brings people out of the woodwork for world-renown sports like the Iditarod, Iron Dog, and Arctic Man. In this issue, one of the founders of the Jr. Iditarod recounts how a handful of teens created that race. We also delve into the unique Arctic Man event, where couches are allowed in the mini “city” formed over the weekend but burning them is frowned upon. 

Those of us less inclined to compete take advantage of the lengthening days to get out and ski, bike, hike, fish, and chase the aurora before the snow melts. It’s also a time of renewal. For me, my first hike with a meetup group called Wild Women Hiking & Backpacking took place in March of 2013. I’d fallen o the hiking wagon for several years and worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the group on a relatively  at six-mile loop; now I regularly hike 10-mile Saturdays.

In March of 2014, I attended my first spring equinox party a friend holds annually on a frozen river; we roast weenies and hitch our confused mutts to dog sleds and face our camp chairs toward the sun for an afternoon. In 2015, I made 25 outings in March and April by foot, ski, and pedal. A 2016 March trip to Seward with my parents ended in a white-knuckle drive through a major snowstorm; when we arrived back at their house where I’d parked my car, I noticed the driver-side passenger door was open and thought someone had broken into it. Alas, it was I who had left the door wide open all weekend—a foot of new snow covered the exposed seat. Last March, in a snit I left my ancient waxless skis beside the trail they were so sticky. Yes, we emerge each spring a little rough around the edges, hungry for light and cranky as denned bears. 

This spring? I’m determined to ski across Portage Lake on a brilliant sunny day to wander among the aqua icebergs frozen in place and see the disheveled glacier terminus while waving so-long to one more winter.

Susan Sommer