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Spring break, Alaska style: Walking on half-frozen beach on Homer Spit

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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 3:03 pm, Thu May 2, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — It wasn’t Mexico or Hawaii, or even Florida, but it was a beach.

There was sand, even though it was covered with a layer of fresh snow and the thought of walking barefoot through it didn’t occur to me for even a second.

There were waves crashing on it, too, and pieces of seaweed that had been washed ashore and abandoned by the tide. There were seagulls and bald eagles soaring over the beach. We even picked up a couple of seashells.

The one thing I did not see was anybody sunbathing.

For many Fairbanksans, the words “spring break” conjure up visions of walking barefoot or lying on a beach in Hawaii, Mexico or some other exotic, warm-weather destination.

For my wife, Kristan, and I, spring break meant strolling the beach in a snowstorm on the Homer Spit.

We had flown down to Homer to participate in the Kachemak Bay Ski Marathon, a rugged and rolling 42-kilometer cross-country ski race through the hills north of town.

It was part of our attempt to complete Alaska’s Nordic Grand Slam, a series of four ski marathons held four consecutive weekends in different spots — Anchorage, Homer, Talkeetna and Fairbanks — around the state.

While the Homer race was memorable in more ways than one, which I’ll write more about when our quest for the Nordic Grand Slam is complete after this weekend’s 50K Sonot Kkaazoot, it was a short walk on the beach at the end of the Homer Spit the day after the race that was the highlight of the trip for me.

Stiff and sore from the previous day’s race, we decided to take a walk on the beach to stretch out and, well, say that we took a walk on the beach. After all, how many Fairbanksans can say they took a walk on a beach in early March in Alaska?

Never mind that the snow was blowing sideways and it wasn’t what you would call prime beach-walking weather, the point is that it was a beach and there were waves, as in open water, crashing on it. After six months of winter in Fairbanks the thought of open water was hard to fathom, though I didn’t feel the need to stick my toe in it to confirm that it was not frozen.

It was a gray, overcast day and clouds obscured the snow-covered mountains surrounding Kachemak Bay but the sand, surf and plethora of bald eagles perched everywhere made up for the lack of views.

We walked down the beach, leaving a trail of footprints in the sand and snow as we headed back to the hotel to pack for the flight back to Fairbanks.

Our day at the beach was over, but it was fun while it lasted.

Contact outdoors editor Tim Mowry at 459-7587.

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