Hi everyone! Here in Anchorage I had quite the shaky weekend – literally. I’ll sandwich the bad stuff in the middle with some awesome adventures on either end so that it’s not such as scary post to write!
Saturday: I had been so stressed all week about an event that I was participating in for work on Friday that involved public speaking (I HATE public speaking!), so once it was over I knew I had to shake off all of that negative energy with an awesome run! In honor of the blizzard on the east coast, I strapped on my YakTrax in an attempt to find a running trail with snow on it (my usual trails are snow-free in most spots). I remembered seeing more snow on the east side of town, so I headed over to the Smokejumper Trailhead in Campbell Tract for a snowy trail run!
I could still see lots of roots and rocks poking through the snow, but it was just thick enough for my YakTrax and the location of the park meant that the sun wasn’t able to melt the snow off the trees yet. It was one of the most relaxing and scenic runs I’ve had in a while and I was so happy that I had the chance to get out there! It’s dangerous to run in that park in the summer due to bears, so I hope to get out there as much as possible before winter ends!
After the trail run, I went to a game night at my friend’s house and then my husband and I stayed up super late watching TV. At 1:30 am while he was getting ready for bed and I was scrolling through Facebook, I felt the sofa begin to shake with the unmistakable beginnings of an earthquake. I’ve experienced countless earthquakes since moving to Alaska almost two years ago, the largest of which was a pretty short 6.3 and the only one that sent me running for a doorframe. We get dozens of earthquakes in Alaska each day, most of which can’t be felt because they are so small. But I could immediately tell that this one was different, because it started out pretty strong. I felt the initial shake and then could literally hear the earthquake coming. Once it started I was frozen in fear as things fell all around me. My husband grabbed me and pulled me into the doorway of our bedroom, and I eventually ended up curled up on the floor with him protecting me. Because all of our lights were on I could see everything happening – the pictures were swinging, everything fell off the top of the refrigerator, and my husband’s fishing pole fell right next to me. The shaking lasted for an entire minute and at one point it was so strong that I realized that we might be in danger. I can’t even begin to explain how scary it is to realize that the earth is shaking so hard that something bad might actually happen, and there’s no way to tell when it will stop and how much stronger it will get before then.
Once the ground finally stopped moving, I fell onto my hands and knees and cried until my building stopped swaying (probably another minute or so). The first thing I did once it was safe to move was grab my phone and check Facebook. Everyone was checking in to say that they were okay and were reporting the damage (or lack of) to their apartments. I was still in shock so I followed my husband around as he began straightening up. Lots of things fell off of shelves and my entire medicine cabinet was on the floor, but nothing was broken. We almost lost our TV and Kitchen Aid mixer but we got lucky! I didn’t take any pictures of the messes because I was in so much shock, but just imagine what would fall off of your walls if your apartment shook from north to south and you’ll get a good idea of what it looked like. After a few minutes the earthquake was reported as a 7.1, large enough to be classified as a “major earthquake”. I tried to go to bed but it’s not exactly easy after an event like that. I probably fell asleep around 3:30 am and then woke up again at 5:30 during the 4.7 aftershock that knocked a few things off shelves again. There were 30 aftershocks, but luckily I only felt that one.
I hope to never go through another big earthquake again (although chances are high that I will), but the experience taught me a lot about how to set up my apartment to minimize injury/damage, and also how important it is to have a disaster plan in place. My husband and I had no idea what to do afterwards – we heard lots of people outside, but we didn’t have any gas lines in our building and it was cold out so we stayed indoors to clean up. The worst part was comparing my experience to the 1964 Good Friday earthquake – that one was a 9.2 and lasted for over 4 minutes, and I have no idea how people handled it! It was the biggest earthquake in US history and it liquified the ground in Anchorage, tore buildings and roads in half, and shook houses out into the ocean. It also caused tsunamis that wiped out entire towns, one of which was Seward (where we lived last summer). Seriously, read the first three paragraphs in that linked article and tell me you wouldn’t be afraid during an Alaskan earthquake! Luckily the ADN posted this article yesterday about what to do next time – note that this will be different depending where you live, but in Alaska and the rest of the west coast our buildings are meant to last through even the biggest earthquakes.
Sunday: I woke up after only a few hours of sleep and just felt so unsettled after everything that had happened the night before. We did a better job cleaning up everything that had fallen over the night before, and I called my family to let them know I was okay since it was a national news story by that point. Then I decided that I absolutely had to get out of the house and do something fun and “Alaskan” to turn my mood around. I had bought cross country skis for myself for Christmas, and despite the lack of snow on the ground I met with my friend for my very first skiing lesson!
I had noticed a few people skiing in Campbell Tract the day before, so we headed to one of the wider, snowier trails for a few hours of skiing. I learned that while cross country skiing is technically just like walking with giant slidey things on your feet, it’s harder than it looks! I only fell once despite going down some sketchy hills, and after an hour I was even starting to get the hang of it! I’m really hoping we can get more snow soon so that I can spend a lot of time out there and really get good at it. There are so few trails right now with enough snow for skiing so please send some positive snow vibes our way!
Between the earthquake and the skiing I definitely had some trouble staying on my feet! I would have to say the best part of my weekend though was getting to challenge myself to use my word of the year, “confidence”, to help me get through everything. Between public speaking, running on a new trail, dealing with a big earthquake, and learning how to ski I had to use a ton of confidence and prove that I had faith in myself at all times. But I think I used up enough confidence this weekend that I deserve a break for a while!
Have you ever experienced an earthquake? What did you do to get through it? What winter activities did you do this weekend? When is the last time you had to use a ton of confidence?