Cold, Ester Dome, Chena Lake, and Tors

Posted by lwpetersen | February 7, 2015 | Fairbanks, outdoors, photo-blog
-40 degrees in front of the UAF sign

One of my best friends, Jenn from New Hampshire just made her second visit to Fairbanks, this time braving the bitter winter temps in hopes of seeing the aurora. After I picked her up at the airport, we stopped by the University for a photo to document her introduction to the interior’s winter weather.

At the end of January, the sun doesn’t rise until a bit before 10 am, so we had plenty of time to head to Ester Dome to watch the sunrise. It was frigid, but not as bad as in the valley because of the temperature inversion. We managed to get some great views of the Alaska Range and even Denali.

Watching the sunrise from Ester Dome outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Warm tones take over the Alaska Range as the sun nears the horizon.

Warm colors over the Alaska Range

On the trails on Ester Dome for sunrise.

Nice clear morning to watch the colors on Denali

Kind of unreal to view the largest mountain in North America from Fairbanks. Almost exactly 150 miles away.

It’s kind of unreal to be able to see Denali, the largest mountain in North America from Fairbanks, 150 miles away.

The sun breaks the horizon - beautiful golden light on the snow

We also went to Chena Lake State Recreation Area in North Pole. It was a blast!

At Chena Lake State Recreation Area

Well, it was about as much fun as you can have at the park in winter while not ice fishing or watching aurora. The light was pretty and I’ve always loved the birch forests there.

Birch forest over the frozen Chena River.

Birch forest over the frozen Chena River.

Dense birch forest in North Pole, Alaska at Chena Lakes State Recreation Area

The next day we headed out to the Granite Tors trail in the Chena River Recreation Area. There’s a short 3 mile(ish) loop there that’s easy to do when you don’t have a lot of time. Almost no elevation change, but some great views over the river and the northern taiga forests.

Some open water on the Chena River at the end of January near Granite Tors

Some open water on the Chena River at the end of January near Granite Tors.

The trail was very well compacted and smooth.

The trail was very well compacted and smooth.

Sun on the hills - Chena River State Recreation Area

Sun on the hills

Beautiful day for a walk at the Tors trail

Beautiful day for a walk at the Tors trail

The snowforest, or boreal forest.

It’s fun hiking in the cold. Everything near your face turns to ice.

Frozen Laugh

Frozen laugh – I took this after she faceplanted in the snow after stepping off the invisible boardwalk under the snow. I’m holding those photos for future blackmail.

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