North Wapiti Siberian
Iditarod 2008 - Tales from the Trail
May 19, 2008
As much as I adore winter, as most of you, I
love the arrival of spring. Last week, seemingly overnight, the
valley burst out green as the popular trees buds popped open.
The evenings are long and lovely, with it being light until
almost 10 pm now.
Unfortunately, one thing spring has not brought with it this
year is rain. Since our big dump of snow last month, we have
been entirely moisture free! It may sound pleasant, but the
county of Athabasca is already under a 'fire advisory' - and the
last few mornings smoke from nearby (but thankfully not too
nearby) fires has hung heavy in the valley.
The last 3 or 4 years have been wet, with a low fire risk, and
have lulled us into a false sense of security. This is a wake
The last couple days have been bitterly windy - further drying
out the ground and hindering hardworking firefighters. As each
new cloud bank blew in, I'd look to the sky and plead for rain,
but no matter how dark and dreary looking, they all blew off
without leaving a drop of moisture.
Last night, by the time we went to feed at 8pm, the wind had
vanished and the skies were completely clear. The dogs spun
around their chains, kicking up a blanket of dust over the dog
Mark had to be up at 4:30 am to leave for work, so he headed to
bed at 9:30, but I decided to stay up and let it cool down
before trying to fall asleep. I've been stalling off on
replacing the flannel sheets and the bed is really toasty with
Around 10:30 my eye was caught by a flash off to the north.
There are some kids camping in the valley this weekend, so at
first I wasn't sure what the flash was caused by (thought maybe
they had a ATV out late and I had seen a headlight in the woods)
but one look at Fly, who had begun to shake like a leaf and
drool, confirmed that our first thunderstorm of the season was
upon us (Fly has a few 'issues' - thunderstorms are his biggest
Now, as a kid I LOVED thunderstorms. I have this childhood
memory, don't know how accurate it is, but I remember sitting on
the porch of our families' first house with my Dad watching
storms blow in. I think because I associate thunderstorms with
him, they always made me feel safe.
But then I grew up, fell in love with a pack of dogs and became
responsible for their welfare. Now thunderstorms scare the heck
out of me - especially during dry times when they are not
accompanied by rain, as was the case last night.
I stood out on our deck and watched the first wave of the storm
move further off to the north. Behind me far off flashes were
scattered through out the skies to the west, heading our way.
Fly, my 'fearless' guard dog was plastered against the back wall
of his dog house and the 'Candies', having never experienced a
thunderstorm before, barked defiantly at the night sky.
It was about 11:30 that I decided I needed to quit worrying and
just get to bed, but once there, I just stared at the ceiling as
the flashes lit up the house every minute or so.
Then the temperature display on my ceiling began to drop. From
13, to 12, to 11 and down to 10 in a matter of moments.
Suddenly, the sound of rain hit the roof - hard. The fussing in
the dog yard stopped instantly, as I'm sure the dogs all ran for
the protection of their houses.
I snuggled down into my flannel sheets and fell asleep with a
smile on my face.
I don't think a huge amount of rain fell overnight, but
everything this morning seems cleaner and fresher - well, except
for Fly, he looks like he has a bad hangover! We certainly need
more rain, a lot more rain, but even that little bit last night
was a welcome thing.
Karen's Diary - Iditarod 2008 Edition
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