During the summer Valdez’s spectacular natural beauty cannot be beat. Naturalists, outdoor adventurers, and fishermen come from around the world to partake in all that Valdez has to offer, glacier and wild life cruises, fishing charters, miles and miles of hiking trails, and of course wonderful Museums. During this time there is a sense that mother nature truly has her favorites and Valdez is that place.
As the summer comes to a close there is a sense of urgency to prepare for the coming winter. The fireweed begins to bloom out. People start looking to the mountaintops to see if Sugar Loaf, a peak across the bay from Valdez, has had its first termination dust. Termination dust is a light snowfall. It is said that when Sugar Loaf has termination dust there are six more weeks until the first real snow that stays until May or June of the next year. It is a time to start stocking up on firewood; to make sure your snowplow provider is up for another year; and to start to think about your winter readiness checklist.
During the winter, Valdez is known as the snow capital of the world. On average Valdez receives over 300 inches a year. There are exceptions to that rule though. Some years Valdez has had 400, 500 and even close to 600 inches of snow. So your winter readiness checklist better prepare you for this extreme weather. In addition to putting on snow tires, making sure the anti freeze is filled up, and putting the flowerpots away, you really need to have the proper snow wall system in place.
So you might ask, what is a snow wall and why is it so necessary? Really it all starts with what kind of roof you have. A tile roof does not shed snow. This kind of roof requires the homeowner to shovel the roof. On the other hand there is something called a shed roof. That allows the snow to slide off and pile up. This type of roof is particularly useful, as you do not need to risk injury shoveling off the roof. With the convenience of a shed roof comes the need for suitable space for the massive tonnage of snow to shed.
As the snow builds up more often then not decks collapse and pathways are blocked. A proper snow wall enables inhabitants the ability to have easy access to their homes. It took four winters until we had the proper and effective snow wall system. I did not want just plywood. I just felt that was just ugly. So finally my love devised a system that was not only useful but also truly acceptable in character. As the snow builds up our snow wall can be hoisted through intricate rigging.
About four weeks ago I mentioned to my love and son that we should get the snow walls in place and rigged. Well the walls are in place now but the rigging was never completed. My love, the conceptual wizard, shared how to rig the system to our son but because of the intricacies we really did not fully understand how it truly works.
My love and I were a great team. We recognized each other’s strengths and weaknesses. My love took care of things like rigging snow walls and I made sure that all the bills were paid. It was a good system. Now as I struggle with new ways of thinking I have come across a new challenge, rigging the snow walls. Living in rural Alaska takes a team effort. I know my son and I will figure this one out as well but right now our snow walls are challenging me.