With January finally coming to a close, our dog sled guiding business, Denali Dog Sled Expeditions, is starting to ramp up. We had a busy time during the holidays, and so far have done three multi-day trips in January. But with the longer daylight and more moderate temperatures of February, come the longer expeditions. The North Side of the Alaska Range, our area, is again experiencing a low snow year. With an La Nina event, currently underway, we get a dry winter. Temperatures have not been swinging back and forth as much as an El Nino year, and we did go through almost 6 weeks where it was very rare for the thermometer to get above zero F. That does make the rivers and lakes much safer for crossing, but it's nice for a break once in a while.
In Interior Alaska, along with the rest of the country (and rest of the world), "normal" weather and temperatures are being re-defined. As the global climate slowly warms (2010 was the warmest on record, the last 10 years warmest ten-year span on record), we are seeing changes faster in the north country. This global change is resulting in El Nino or La Nina years more often than not, and the subsequent shifting of the Jet Stream is impacting everyone. So our storms all come out of the south, and the moisture is blocked by two mountain ranges. The Jet dips low in the Continental US, dragging the cold Canadian air down to the warmer moist southern air...and the East Coast gets dumped on with snow. Greenland and parts of the Arctic are seeing record warm winters, while my family in New Jersey keep digging out of snow over and over again. And everywhere, people keep confusing "weather" with "climate". Whatever the results, we know things will continue to change a bit, but up here we will have a decent winter season for many years to come. Good news for the sled dogs, and our intrepid winter visitors...
Although we are in the middle of winter, EarthSong is preparing for the summer 2011 season. We are optimistic that the economy will continue it's slow climb out of the ditch, and a bit more Denali visitors will grace our area. Good news at Henry's Coffeehouse...Earl will be back! Earl was our chef for two seasons a few years back, and built a reputation in the area. In his younger days, he was Steve McQueen's personal chef, and he spent many years in some of the finest establishments in New Orleans and Houston. He works summer seasons now, and we are happy that he (and his famous Gumbo) will be back.
Looks like we will also have Bill returning. Bill filled in for that last five weeks of the season, after some employees unexpectedly left early. His resume is long, and personality bright. Bill will do a number of jobs this summer, and one will be manager when Karin and I aren't around. This summer we will be absent here and there, due to a number of reasons...some health-related. I can think of no better person to keep our place running at the level our guests expect than Bill. Two more employees for housekeeping will round out the crew.
We'll also have some building projects going, mostly at the beginning of the season, mostly staff quarters. We have always taken a bit of pride offering our employees decent housing, something lacking in many businesses in the Denali area. Other projects are numerous, and we'll keep them as a surprise!
On the dog front, I am very happy with the pups from last year. This is the first year of pulling for Dax, Sisko, Basheer, Odo, and Kira...the Star Trek Deep Space Nine litter. Looks like the two girls have lead potential, and all pull very well. Frodo has been training our next leader, two-year old Boomer, and she is now working on trail-breaking. Her brother, Starbuck, has started running lead a bit, along with 6 year old Ahab (a real surprise to me!). The dog yard is at 25, with Nocturne anchoring the crew as Old Man.
That's the news from mid-winter at EarthSong. Hope you all are healthy and staying out of the deep snow...unless you would rather play in the white stuff! Happy Trails!