Sunday, August 12, 2007

Severe Sun Advisory

Date: Aug. 11
Mileage: 25.1
August mileage: 294.0
Temperature upon departure: 71
Inches of rain: 0"

The National Weather Service issued an unofficial "Severe Sun Advisory" for Juneau this weekend. I guess the NWS feels it's necessary to warn Juneau residents that when that big yellow orb is burning in the sky and outside temperatures are approaching 80 (80!), they can't go outside without sunscreen and leave their dogs in cars and other things that they are able to do 95 percent of the year. Yes, Juneau-ites, the sun is in the sky. Head for the hills.

Today I hiked with Geoff to the top of Mount Jumbo, the highest point on Douglas Island. I think it may just turn out to be our only hike together this summer; now that he has seen how slow I am on the downhills, he will not take me hiking again. I don't know exactly what is wrong with me right now - whether I am out of practice, out of shape, or just a little too self-aware of my tender knee. Either way, it took us a comfortable 90 minutes to climb to the top, and a lumbering, leg-pounding two hours to get down with me in the lead. I felt like a wooden marionette flailing down the mountain, grasping and clawing at roots as gravity sucked me into an abyss. And it just kept going down, and down and down and down.

But it's worth it, because you can't beat the views at 3,500 feet. It really gives me perspective on where I live. It's so easy to get lost in the day-to-day out-and-back that defines my routine. The reality of Juneau is that it is a small speck on a very large, very craggy topo map. Whenever I feel stifled in my small town, I like to think of all those ridgelines stretching into the great beyond, and how I could wander for the rest of my life and never see them all.

The sun, however, actually has me a little worried. The weather forecast extends this high-pressure system late into the week, which means my ride Wednesday-Friday could be accompanied by something unexpected entirely: hot weather. With forecasted temps in the mid-70s in Juneau, it could reach the 90s in interior Yukon. Before you smirk at the irony of my concerns, picture this: I'm one of those light-skinned, light-eyed types who is naturally sensitive to sunlight anyway. Throw in the fact that I am in no way acclimatized to sun, and have no recent experience with hydration, eating or perceived effort in warm temperatures ... I may just wither out there. Or I may still freeze. But now I have no idea what to expect. I liked it better when freezing was a given.

Look at me. I'm complaining about a "Severe Sun Advisory." I really am from Juneau now.