Cold Snap

Winter finally appeared last week and we are now in a cold snap.  Cold snap is a term used for short term periods of exceptionally cold temperatures.  I had to come to Alaska to learn that cold snaps are much more literal.


A week ago Monday we had our first significant snowfall, 13-18 inches depending where you were.  The timing was beneficial for me, as Sunday was the first day of the trapping season for most fur bearers.  Without going into a long drawn out lesson on trapping, the snow provides natural cover for the traps.  The snow also enacted a change from ATV to snow machine for transportation.  I do not have much experience on snowmobiles, but I am learning.  Breaking trail was along, grueling day, laying the sled over several times.  But my trail up the mountain is completed, although I may go back later and remove the occasional tree to make navigating a little easier.  By the end of the week, I caught my first lynx of the season.

Cold snap to low for the temp to register on the trail camera

Too cold for the temp to register on the trail camera

Enter the cold snap.  Several days ago, cold became very cold and the unseasonably warm start to winter was gone.  Temperatures fell to below zero, way below zero, and all the problem that come with the cold, rose to the surface.  This morning I awoke to temps on the south side of 30 below zero.  After putting wood on the fire, first order of business was to start the generator to charge the batteries.  Solar power is almost non existent, the sun is so low on the horizon that regardless how clear the day is, amperage is seldom over 2, for no more than 4 hours, compared to summer days when 20+amps can be harnessed for 10 hours or more.  The generator started up with very little effort!  Great!  My power needs are satisfied.  Next order of business is to start the sled and let it warm up for a while before checking my trap line. Press the start button, Nothing.  Check battery connections, still nothing.  First guess is a connection gone bad do to ice.  I decide to use battery heating pads to warm the start module.  As I start to untangle the extension cord, snap!  Broken in two…  More careful with the second cord and as I plug in the pad, snap, another broken cord.  Cold snap is taking on a whole new meaning!  Called the Skidoo dealer and they were familiar with my problem.  They suggested jumping the solinoid, run the machine until warm and see if it would start then,  It did, so I need to replace the start button on my next trip to Anchorage.  Still needed to bring water to the house, using a 12v pump, some garden hose, and the snomachine I am able to fill a 55 gallon barrel in about 20 minutes, haul it back to the house and pump it into my holding take. Pretty simple, except the cold snap struck again, when my garden hose snapped in 2.

11 am, this is about the peak for sun this time of year.  Barely clearing the spruce.

11 am, this is about the peak for sun this time of year. Barely clearing the spruce.

By the time the day ended, my snow machine was running, and I had water, so overall it was a success, but the learning curve of winter is a steep one. The cold snap, on the other hand, is supposed to last for the rest of the week.  Giving this new resident of Alaska a taste of the reality I signed up for.  I liked it!


  1. Larry Johnson says:

    Sounds very challenging at times, but what excitement too. Be careful and enjoy,

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