Life in Only 5 Hours of Daylight

Many people who are not from Alaska associate it with coldness and darkness. This is technically correct but it is not so grim in reality. Subsequently, a question I have been asked a lot is “how do you handle the darkness?” The answer is I don’t always, but I have learned to. 

When I first moved to Alaska, I did not fully understand what only 5 hours of daylight would be like and how it would affect me. I would like to answer a few specific questions I have gotten about this. A general disclaimer is these are all my opinions based on my experience living here. 

Q: Is it pitch black darkness in the middle of the winter? A: Not really, at least not in Anchorage, specifically. The city is so well lit, the light pollution does not allow for complete darkness. This is good and bad. Good for driving so you can see the road and animals better but bad for trying to see the northern lights. 

Q: How do you handle the darkness? A: Several ways by creating routines for myself, supplementing vitamin D and C with every meal, not getting into bed before 6pm, and embracing the beauty of Alaskan winters. Things I am still working on are decreasing my phone usage as the blue light and the darkness are really confusing my natural circadian rhythm.

Q: How do you handle the cold? A: I also have routines to survive the Alaskan cold. Always have ski boot covers in your bag, wear all your layers — you can always take a layer off, but you can’t put more on — mittens are a must, and hot apple cider will make it all bearable. 

Q: Are you still able to ski/shoot when it is dark out? A: Anchorage is very fortunate to have free and lighted ski trails thanks to the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage. Just this past Friday, January 21st, they hosted a 6pm night sprint biathlon race. There was a great turn out with 28 racers! We could not control the insane wind at Kincaid Park, but were able to see the ski trails and range thanks to all the lights!

Q: Do you live in an igloo? A: The people who ask this question also probably think Egyptians live in the pyramids. I always hope this is a joke, but if you aren’t joking then yes and I ride my pet polar bear to school. 

One thing I have genuinely wondered is how people stay sane if they do not ski! There is so much snow, I cannot fathom not getting out to play in it. In many ways, skiing is a part of the culture here and has grown immensely with the pandemic. It has been really cool to see busy trails and people enjoying what Alaska is known for. 

Here are some photos from the darker days where I still make the most of it. Thank you for reading my post and asking me questions! If you think of any other things you would like to ask me, you can always fill out the forum on my previous post

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