Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day 11 of sun

Date: Dec. 22
Mileage: 27.5
December mileage: 646.3
Temperature upon departure: 14

Eleven days have passed and I'm still in awe of this clear, colorful, holy-cow-you-can-see-forever weather. Today was likely the last day of sun, with a Tuesday forecast calling for seven inches of snow. But it's been a good run, and I'm not complaining. I'm fairly certain this has been the longest stretch of consecutive dry days since I moved to Juneau two and a half years ago.

"Clear weather is such a waste this time of year," Geoff told me. "For every clear day you get, what, six hours of sunlight? And none of it's direct sunlight. I'd rather have three sunny days in the summer then 11 in December."

I disagree. The winter is such a beautiful time of year, in my opinion, and the clear sky opens up jaw-dropping views that catch me off guard even after two and a half years. Just today, I headed out North Douglas for a mellow "endurance pace" two-hour ride and a quick jaunt on the Mendenhall Wetlands. I was so focused on trying to hold my line and keep the studded-rubber-side down atop papery ice that I almost rolled right into the Channel. As I looked up from where the water met the frozen shoreline, I was met with the searing white cliffs of the Mendenhall Towers and the light blue glacier below it. I looked left to a sharp view of the Chilkats, and right to the rolling outline of Blackerby Ridge. How many times have I seen these geographical features? And from how many angles? And still, the same reaction hits me: "This place is unreal."

Beyond that, the wetland rides have been really fun, although pretty precarious. There is certainly a limit to what studded tires can handle, and I have been skirting the edge of those limits all week. Still, I love the shimmer and sparkle of glare ice. I'm going to miss it when the snow returns.

Yup, that's my happy face.

Look at that line and tell me that doesn't look fun.

No one said winter sun in Juneau doesn't come at a price. This photo didn't turn out so well, but I was trying to show my handy compass/ emergency whistle/ firestarter / thermometer giving a reading of about 10 degrees. Oh, and that black streak on my fingers isn't frostbite - it's chain grease. :-)

Also, I wanted to post a link to a "Ghost Trails" book review by Sandra in Brisbane, Australia. I nearly forgot to post it, as it was written about a week ago, but it's very flattering. Thanks, Sandra.

"When I put the book down I had this sad feeling I get sometimes when I fall in love with a book character and have to say good-bye after sharing such an intense and intimate time. I was wishing that she had taken up the invitation of Kathi to continue on, all the way to Nome, adding another hundreds of miles to the race and consequently more pages to this amazing story. "

You can read the review here.

I have received a number of insightful e-mails from readers, and wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I wanted to post some quotes, but decided against it because e-mails are generally intended as private communications. I also got in a little trouble earlier this month for posting part of an e-mail on this blog, because the woman who wrote to me had intended to give the book to her sister as a Christmas gift. Whoops. Sorry. :-)

If anyone is interested in some holiday reading, the offer is still out for free PDF copies of the eBook for any blogger who doesn't mind taking the time to write a review. Just e-mail me at jillhomer66@hotmail.com or leave a comment here.


  1. I agree, I think Juneau is beautiful in the winter! And I see it's snowing like crazy outside this morning, I guess that's it for sunshine for awhile!

  2. The NY Times ran this article today and I thought of you.


    I really enjoy your posts and hope to experience your part of the world someday.

    Dan R, Westfield, NJ

  3. I fancied myself a real tough guy for braving 20 and 30 degree temperatures to run. After reading your posts, 20 degrees sounds like the tropics! I think I'll have an easier time getting up on cold mornings now. I'll just think, "it could be worse. I could be in Juneau!"

  4. I envy you that many days of sun in Juneau. Glad you've absolutely made the best of it and absorbed some Vitamin D! I am awaiting my niece's feedback on your book, which she will open Christmas morning. She's a budding climber and outdoorswoman. Thanks for writing it. You have no idea who you will positively influence!

  5. Hi Jill -

    Wow. I just stumbled onto your blog about 5 days ago and I am fascinated with your stories and experiences. I would love to read a PDF version of your book and write a review. I am not a literary genius of any sort, but I do enjoy reading non-fiction stories or adventure, experiences, trials and tribulations.

    Thank you for your time in writing these posts for us all to read and enjoy.

    Cheers to you!

  6. I thought you might want to see this article/video.


  7. hey dude - you're on the nytimes.com front page.

  8. Is it me or are the days getting longer?
    kb peace out

  9. Some of my most memorable winter rides were on the frozen Mississippi River on studded tires! Something peaceful about a river frozen in time...
    Lance www.savedbythebike.blogspot.com


Feedback is always appreciated!