December 31. Sunrise 10:55 a.m. Sunset 2:53 p.m. Temperature -10. Still clear. Awesome.
I couldn't leave Alaska without getting in at least one bike ride. Happily, Joel's roommate let me borrow his Salsa Mukluk while he was out of town. He was gone all week, so I suppose it's a shame that I only managed one ride. As it turned out, even New Year's Eve was a tight squeeze. I had been awake for most of the night before finishing layout on the Alaska newspapers that I contract for, and we were flying home late that evening (we enjoyed salmon and fondue dinner, fireworks, and a raunchy card game with Joel and Erica, but spent the stroke of midnight at the Fairbanks airport, which is as sad as it sounds.) Still, snow bike ride, yay! Finally, I was going to fly!
The winter gear-testing went well, and Fairbanks gave us a fair range of conditions in which to try out new stuff. I know such things are boring additions to a narrative blog, but I benefit from keeping these records, so I'm posting the gear list I'm working on. There are probably some things missing, and I hope to continue to tweak it and maybe shed a few items over the next few weeks (so hard for me. I do not have unbending confidence in myself or my abilities, quite the opposite, so I feel the need to be prepared for all contingencies.)
It's funny, because one of the reasons I took up running is because I was sick of all the gear-oriented focus of cycling. Running is shoes and a water bottle, right? How I continue to find myself venturing into extremely gear-oriented activities is a mystery to me, because in a different life I would *love* to be the kind of person who owned one bike, one pair of shoes, and a water bottle. But, alas, my complicated passions have rendered me as gear-crazed as the worst of them, and this is what I think I need to run (walk) 350 miles across Alaska:
Clothing:Outer layer, for stopping: PHD down pants, PHD down parka, RBH Designs VaprThrm mittens
Wind layer: Skinfit shell pants, Outdoor Research Mentor Jacket
Insulation layers: Mountain Hardwear Airshield Monkey Fleece, North Face ThermoBall jacket, North Face wind pants, Skinfit primaloft shorts
Base layers: 66 North Polartec pullover, Under Armour top, GORE windstopper tights
Head: Mountain Hardwear monkey fleece hat, Mountain Hardwear windstopper hat, fleece balaclava, windstopper buff, goggles with nose piece, Beko face mask
Hands: Mountain Hardwear monkey fleece mittens, windstopper gloves, trekking pole pogies
Underwear: Isis briefs (x3), sports bras (x3)
Feet: Montrail Mountain Masochist Gore-Tex shoes, size 10.5; Acorn fleece socks, medium (x2), extra-large (x2); Integral Designs vapor barrier socks, Drymax socks (x6), Outdoor Research gaiters