One benefit to living in a small town with a limited number of roads and nearby hiking trails is that I get to see how the area differs season to season and year to year. I must take a photo from the same spot by the Lowe River at least once a month every year during the cycling season. One of these days, I'm going to dig them all up and do some sort of comparative display. I did a bit of that after hiking up to the Solomon Gulch reservior last week.
May in Valdez this year was so phenomenally nice (sunny, hot, dry!) that the salmonberry bushes are loaded with pink blossoms. If all goes well, the berry crop should be terrific. At the same time, however, I noticed low water levels in all of outflows from the reservoir, a situation that's likely to affect our hydroelectric power-generating capabilities, and water availability for pink and silver salmon eggs at the Valdez Fisheries Development Association hatchery.
Just for fun, I dug up some photos from hikes to the reservoir from last summer and last winter. I'm going to do my best to arrange them in sets so you can see the same (or at least similar) view from each season. Wish me luck!
Okay, change of plans. As I did a quick search of my old blog posts for Solomon Gulch, I found that I had the same idea when I did a New Year's hike this year. I will kindly ask you to check out that post to see some summer v. winter photos of the trail. I think they're kind of cool.
What I will show you today is some of the photos I took on my most recent hike, as well as a few comparative ones. I hope the photos show up side by side on your monitor the way they do on mine. If not, sorry. The photos on the left below are from June 5, 2014. The ones on the right are from June or July 2013. I also used them in this post, if you're interested.
The water level in the top set of photos makes the stream look so different that I had to check the shape of the rocks to even be sure it was the same place. Crazy!
Over the 12 years I've lived in Valdez, I've failed miserably to identify "normal" weather for any season (except rain in August - that seems to be a given). Snow levels have ranged from 200" to 440", with snowfalls starting in October one year and not until nearly January in another. They may last until mid-May (as they did last year) or end in early February (as they did this year). Spring can bring warm, sunny weather or cold, wet gloom. Some old-timers who grew up here claim that the heaviest snow years recently are reminiscent of winters from 50+ years ago. Hmm, as I proof-read this, I noticed how much my weather comments focused on precipitation. That's accurate, but it makes me sad. Someday, I'll live somewhere sunny.
Until then, it'll be interesting to see how climate change continues to affect Valdez's weather, not to mention how we live life here in this little town at the end of the road.