From Hawaii to the Arctic

Now with a little routine back in my life, it’s basically as normal as it gets and it’s time I update you all on the last month or two. After the ski season ended I had a week in Alaska before Lauren and I jumped on a plane and flew to Hawaii.

I was in desperate need of sunshine and salt water. We spent 10 days on the Big Island of Hawaii, swimming, hiking and exploring to our hearts content. Lauren’s mum was also over with some other friends competing in a triathlon there and so we also were her support crew for the race. Don’t worry it wasn’t as spontaneous as it sounds, we had been planning it for some time.

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Lauren and I at the beach
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Hanging about at the beach…

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I had really hoped to break out a surfboard and find a few breaks there but the Island of Hawaii is amazingly volcanic, everything is rock and there are few sandy beaches. I wasn’t quite ready to hit up a reef break over lava rock after not touching my board back home for 6 months. Instead I resigned myself to snorkel in some of the clearest most beautiful water I have ever been in. As you can tell it was tough.

After 10 days Lauren and I flew back to Anchorage and just had 30 odd hours to repack our bags and collect our skis and make the trip up north to the Arctic Circle. Lauren and I once again volunteered to teach native children to ski in a remote village and this year we were in for a real treat. The village of Wainwright is perched on the edge of the Chukchi Sea. After being in lovely 25C days in Hawaii, going to -18C and 80km winds was a little bit of a shock to the system.

The city of Wainwright is a native village with strong ties to the ocean and so the town is part of a very select group of people that can subsistence hunt on the sea ice and in the ocean for the Arctic marine life. The day before we arrived, one of the local boats had caught the first whale of the season. Each year the town is able to take up to 7 whales for subsistence. To catch a whale is a huge deal and everyone in the town is involved. Almost everyone in the town also gets a portion of each catch. When we arrived we headed over to the whale and the hive of activity. They were trying to butcher the meat before it all froze but not with much luck. The natives are sometimes quite shy but on other hand very animated, the first kill of the season seemed to bring the chatty animated side out of most of the locals and many were happy to show us around more and explain it all. They even happily sliced off fresh shavings of meat to share with us.

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Cutting up the whale. Some “supervisors” and some active cutters.
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Dividing up share of meat from the whale.
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Kids played games between parts of the whale.
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One super happy little girl doing some jumps, showing the boys how it’s done.

However we were there to get kids outdoors skiing and the kids were certainly eager to skip a little class and get outside. We had a really good albeit windy and chilly week of skiing with the children there. Its really cool to see the program continue to grow and become more permanent in each community. Now kids are able to borrow gear from the school in Wainwright and take it out on their own which is a great milestone for us. To have the program build while we are away and not in active control is a big aim for the organisation.

Once our week was done up north we headed back to Anchorage for a week to gather ourselves and get organised for summer. But no sooner had we settled down at home “soft training” began with 2-3 sessions for the week officially organised by coaches but with the expectation that we were already putting in some solid hours. We are now just shy of week 4 in the training year and things seem to be going really well in general. I have felt really good in most of the sessions and this year I have carried my fitness much better from last year over into the New Year and I feel like I’m able to already put down more gains instead of just rebuilding. One little blip however has been the amount of dust and pollen in the air. Anchorage is really dry at the moment for this time of year and the level of particles in the air is way above normal to the point of setting new state records. I have found on occasion my lungs have gotten quite tight and breathing really laboured during easy normal session so it’s definitely something I have had to keep an eye on.

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Lauren and I out running on top of a few mountains!
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Alaska has some pretty awesome views!
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Scott Patterson happy to be on top of a mountain!
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A wintery Alaskan view.
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Scotty P charging downhill.
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It took a little bit of yelling but we managed to move this bull moose off the trails and he decided to walk across the stream away from us to quieter pastures.
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Moose enjoying some sun and green pickings!
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Lauren on an afternoon rollerski
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Running the Turnagain Arm Trail race, I came sixth. Photo: Conor Priest.

For now it’s back to the grind but when it’s in a place like this it’s just fun and good times training in the wilderness with the guys. I don’t have that many photos of training, it’s something I’d love to have more of but normally I’m just running to keep up and don’t have time for happy snaps!

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On top of O’Malley Peak. If you follow my right thumb across to the edge of the photo you can see green trees that run in a straight line, we started down there somewhere.

Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.

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One thought on “From Hawaii to the Arctic

  1. Really nice blog Paul. I still think that you should provide your travel tips for Aussies,that you sent me, they’re quite revealing. They are a good laugh.

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