Welcoming Spring in Fairbanks

Posted by lwpetersen | April 26, 2014 | outdoors, photo-blog
An absolutely gorgeous day on Smith Lake in Fairbanks, Alaska. The trails are wet and muddy, but it's still worth it to venture out.

An absolutely gorgeous day on Smith Lake. If you have a big monitor it’s worth clicking on this to view in lightbox. Small screens won’t do this panorama justice.

The snow is melting fast. The Nenana River went out sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning earlier in the week and the Chena River went out Wednesday. It looks like the Tanana may break up any moment as I look at the webcam for the Nenana Ice Classic. There are lots of geese, swans, pintails, and other waterfowl accumulating at Creamer’s Field. The weather here remains gorgeous; every day the temperatures reach the 50’s, it’s mostly sunny, maybe a couple of short rain showers, and did I mention the snow is melting?

Despite not having a totally brutal winter, I’m still ready for the few months of “springsummerfall” that we get in the interior. The last few years I haven’t really gone out walking this time of the year because of how wet and muddy everything is. Normally I just have “indoor time” between the snow melt and green-up. But, I have a nice pair of wading boots, so I figured I’d go explore and take some photos near town. Plus, it’s so much fun to wander around in these beautiful boreal forests.

The west end of Ballaine Lake is mostly melted, but the surface still refreezes in the colder evenings.

The west end of Ballaine Lake is mostly melted, but the surface still refreezes in the colder evenings.

It's a bit awkward walking on the part snow, part ice, part creek, and tussocky trails right now.

It’s a bit awkward walking on the part snow, part ice, part creek, and tussocky trails right now.

The sap is flowing on the white spruce.

The sap is flowing on the white spruce.

Water was flowing beneath the ice and snow on the trail. The grasses and ground foliage beneath made for some cool colors and texture.

Water was flowing beneath the ice and snow on the trail. The grasses and ground foliage beneath made for some cool colors and texture.

The firmly packed snow and ice adhered well to the groundcover and frozen soil while the water from the melting snow around did well to fill much of the landscape with 1-2 feet of water. It gets cold enough at night to refreeze the surface with a centimeter of ice. What a pretty day!

The firmly packed snow and ice adhered well to the groundcover and frozen soil while the water from the melting snow around did well to fill much of the landscape with 1-2 feet of water. It gets cold enough at night to refreeze the surface with a centimeter of ice. What a pretty day!

The trail from Sheep Creek Road to Smith Lake.

The trail from Sheep Creek Road to Smith Lake.

During our first snowfall on September 18th last year I sat and watched the beavers building this lodge. It looks like they finished it well - this is the first time I've seen the finished project.

last year I sat and watched the beavers building this lodge. It looks like they finished it well – this is the first time I’ve seen the finished project.

Smith Lake with a bit of ice left under a beautiful spring sky.


Sky over Smith Lake

Morning at Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Fairbanks, Alaska.

Morning at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.

At Creamer's Field in Fairbanks
A DC-6 in the air over Creamer's Field as some geese are arriving in the morning. This is April in Fairbanks.

A DC-6 in the air over Creamer’s Field as some geese are arriving in the morning.

By mid-summer this is usually just a wet field. At Creamer's Field - Fairbanks, Alaska.

The seasonal wetlands – by mid-summer this is usually just a wet field.

The birch trees are in about 2-3 feet of water near the seasonal wetlands.

The trails are mostly snow-free now, but some of the boardwalks and trails are submerged. Bring good wading boots!

Beautiful morning light filtering in through the trees.

Drunken forest – Beautiful morning light filtering in through the trees.

More photos in the galleries:
Smith Lake and UAF trails
Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

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