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Table Top Mountain

On Friday, May 27, 2016, I hiked up Table Top Mountain, in the White Mountains northeast of Fairbanks. I tried this hike back in May 2012, not long after I moved here, but I had to abort because the trail was too muddy. Not this year!

This was a spur-of-the-moment thing, so I hiked it by myself. Going deep into the wilderness alone sounds like a bad idea, but if you’re prepared (which I was), it’s not a big deal. It was impossible to get lost; I could see my car parked at the trailhead for the entire hike. In addition to the usual trail accoutrements, I brought along bear protection and communications gear. Being Memorial Day weekend, there were of plenty of other noisy (read: bear-repelling) groups on the mountain that day, including whole families with young kids and dogs.

Table Top Mountain is a pair of mesas, deep in the White Mountains, about 70 road miles from Fairbanks. The trail itself is a three-mile loop, with a one-ish mile spur that goes to the top of the east mesa. I’m unsure who high the top is, but since a few stunted trees grow there, I’m guessing less than 3000 feet.

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UAF campus walk

Yesterday I picked up some new trail running shoes, and decided to break them in by walking (not running) some of the paths behind the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, on UAF property. Obviously, I took the camera. The walk was about 10 miles total, and by the end my feet were soaked (Alaska is a swamp), and I was tired, hungry, and had a headache. And it was totally worth it.

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Getting back

On May 3, my employer approved my application to work remotely, allowing me to move just about anywhere that I can get high-speed internet. For me, there’s only one destination: back to Tucson.

August is looking like the most likely month to make the move. That gives me plenty of time to prepare.

I wasn’t “supposed” to be here this long. I moved here in 2012 to take a job as an entry-level meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The idea was to spend enough time on the job to be ready for the promotion to general forecaster, and then bid out to that open positions in other forecast offices. In other words, Fairbanks was a foot in the door. But, after a year, when it was clear that things weren’t working for me, I took the job I have now. That “reset the clock”, so to speak. This time around, things have worked out, enough for me to earn the privilege of becoming a permanent teleworker.

Fairbanks is a nice place, but four of its long and dark winters is enough. That said, I made the mistake of not fully taking advantage of my time here. I came up with the mentality that this was “temporary”, and didn’t spread my wings and have fun from the get-go, like I should have done. Lesson learned. Wherever I go from here (including Tucson), I won’t be making this mistake again.

I’ll be leaving behind some friends and connections, including Arctic Amateur Radio Club, Fairbanks VIP/CERT, Interior Alaska Gamers, and others. Of course, friends stay friends wherever we go, and Tucson will offer plenty of new opportunities to pursue those interests. In fact, I already have a few arrangements lined up!

Since I’ll be still employed at the University of Alaska, I have the perfect excuse to visit once in a while; I won’t even have to take time off work to do it!