Watching Alaska’s Seasonal Shift to Autumn

In a place where nature reigns supreme and the smart humans who live here don’t even pretend they can conquer her, being aware of Alaska’s seasonal shift is critical. Winter waits for nobody, so prepare for it wisely – or take your chances and hope for the best.

Watching Alaska’s Seasonal Shift from August to October

Over the last 16+ years on the road, we’ve been in plenty of places with “real” fall weather. But feeling and watching Alaska’s seasonal shift from August through October is a stark reminder that this place has seasons like nowhere else. Fall falls harder here than any other place. It’s more stark, more dramatic, and more powerful than any I’ve experienced in our travels. Little hints of winter keep appearing, like the hoarfrost buildup on our deck, signaling that the best (hey I’m an optimist!) is yet to come.

Hoarfrost on our deck
Hoarfrost? Not a frosty whore.

We’ve had some spectacular fall days, and they’re going fast. As of this week the sun isn’t rising until just after 9 am, and setting before 6:30 pm. This gives us just over 9 hours and 15 minutes of daylight. When the sun is up, the fall days can be gorgeous, as you can see from these clips recorded from our first week here, through last week when we got our first snow (which didn’t stick).

Watching and waiting for winter …

How We are Preparing for Winter Weather

Since we don’t have a large property, or even a fireplace, there’s not much that we had to do outside to get ready. No logs to split, no brush to cut back for snow trails, or even raking leaves. This is bare bones lodging, simple and easy. Sometimes it’s nice being a renter.

But what we did have to do is decide that our camping season in the Project M is over till spring. Not feeling too confident about our lithium battery’s ability to handle extreme sub-zero temperatures that can regularly dip into -30, Jim pulled it out of the camper. We also grabbed our Bluetti AC180 Power Station, which will come in handy if our power goes out in the cabin. And last week he got our Dodge engine block heater prepped, then tested it on the coldest night yet, a bone-chilling 8-degrees. It worked beautifully.

Turnagain Arm parking in the Project M
Well damn, no more camping in 2023 for these chechakos.

Aside from racking up a pile of winter clothing, about the only other big thing we’ve done to prepare for winter is to start stocking our pantry and freezer. We made a trip to Anchorage two weekends ago, where we went into full-on winter prepper mode at Costco. Left with a stockpile of frozen eats, canned goods, pantry staples, and dog food, hoping it will last us through the season.

Project M truck topper hauling groceries
A nice thing about the Project M is that it’s still a truck used for hauling stuff.

Between that, a cool organic foods delivery service called Full Circle, and the local c-store if we get desperate, I’m hoping we won’t need to drive the Parks Highway to go shopping more than once a month. I am terrified of driving on snowy roads lined with moose along the shoulder, and hope to avoid town visits at all costs.

Meanwhile, Denali finally decided to make an appearance a couple of weeks ago. Hard to believe that a huge mountain could be hiding behind so much cloud cover for so long! Turns out we didn’t need to drive two hours north to see her standing in all her glory.

Mount Denali as seen during Alaska's seasonal shift from fall to winter
The view of Denali from Willow.

The day I saw her I was out on an afternoon run. As I headed home, I turned north on the Parks Highway and was gobsmacked by the sight of the mountain. Finally!

To give you an idea of how huge Denali is, Willow is about 100 miles from her base.

There’s nothing like having such a monumental reminder of the power of nature, right outside your door. Alaska humbles you like no other place on the continent.

3 thoughts on “Watching Alaska’s Seasonal Shift to Autumn”

  1. Wellness check, how are you both holding up? Got enough quinoa? So, what’s the skiing like? Any nearby resorts or spas? Are there any Friday Soiree’s at a local country club? Stay busy this Winter, read good books that challenge your values and intellect, listen to Jazz and Blues, oh, and watch every known Francis McDormand film ever made, they’re amazingly chock full of forlorn characters. Lastly, there’s a little known clause in the Alaskan Constitution, I believe it’s in Article VII (Health, Education and Welfare) that speaks to “cannibalism under duress”, I’ll say no more on that topic. Oh, and if you’re plotting the over-throw of the U.S. Government, please go live in a country for a year where you feel they have superior grip on how to manage the expectations of a people who can’t be told what to do? Be safe you two and yes, you can expect wellness checks throughout the Winter.

  2. It sounds like you are well orepared for winter. Now you can enjoy the season!
    That’s a great Denali photo. It is incredibly beautiful in any season.
    Stay safe and warm.

  3. So, did you get the essentials, several decks of cards, guitar songbook, hymnal, and a case of whiskey! 😜
    You two are troopers for sure!

    I find it strange the cabin doesn’t even have a pot-bellied stove?
    Does that have something to do with insurance cost?
    Do you have a backup generator to keep the engine block heater going during power outages?

    Thank goodness for COSTCO!
    PS: Send the ducks down here, the hunting’s been dang slow.


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