almost as good as a helicopter

Almost as good as a helicopter: the website www.mammothmapping.com provides fodder for spring break-up obsession with photos taken from the Sunnydale Lookout, south and west of Dawson City. In other words, from the “other” side of the Yukon River, providing views currently unavailable to any of us in town unless we hire air transportation.

Here’s a view from 7:40 p.m., April 29, 2010:

And here’s one from 6:20 p.m., April 29, 2009:

And this is the view from 11:19 a.m. on May 3. The official breakup time was 12:17 p.m. that day.

Even though there’s a big stretch of open water, if you look on the left side of the image, you can see the ice jamming up as the current moves floes from the wide bend toward a slightly narrower stretch of river. When water levels rise enough, the pressure breaks through at that section and the whole river flows. (Any locals reading this, please tweak my reasoning here if it needs any!)

The other thing I enjoy about these suites of photos is that it doesn’t take too much distance to see how compact Dawson City really is.

But about Mammoth Mapping – a Dawson company that provides the Mammoth Map Guides to Dawson City and Whitehorse each year through Visitor Information Centre – why, and how, are they over in Sunnydale taking photos of spring?

When I emailed John to ask for permission to post these photos, I also asked, “what’s the story behind how you started doing these photos each year?”

John wrote back:

the story is really just that we’re (happily) stuck on this side of the river for breakup each year and we have some free time. also I have a minor obsession with documenting things like this because memory (especially mine) is fallible. you know how people are always saying things with authority about how things were last year, or 3 yrs ago… and you don’t necessarily believe them? I guess I figure pictures don’t lie. I guess I’m keeping score!

Another person keeping score! I love it.

This year’s stitched-together photos are taken by Cholena, John’s partner; the 2009 photos are taken by John. The site has many more, it’s well worth a look.

Back on this shore, with my more humble, closer-to-water view, I can’t believe the river didn’t break today. Have a look at why. The tripod in these photos is for the Ice Betting tickets – I will write a post explaining this tomorrow. For now, you just need to know that this view is taken toward the north end of Dawson (in contrast to the confluence photos I’ve been posting; both rivers are running smoothly at the confluence, with ice floe chunks along the sides).

9:00 a.m.: ice jumble leading up to the tripod:

9:00 a.m.: the tripod (tipped with safety-orange paint) and the head of the jumble’s pressure ridge (yes, I was late for work due to river-admiration):

12:30 noon: tripod again (tiny on RH side), plus more open leads

and looking south from the same spot:

next shots came after work + ping-pong, around 7:45 p.m. that’s hay on the ice, leftover I believe from dog teams keeping warm?

and still, somehow, even though melted shoreline leads have spidered out into fast-flowing channels, the river had not broken when I biked down for a look at

10:20 p.m.

Home before rainfall. Ice still doing its thing.

Thanks to Mammoth Mapping for their almost-aeriall views.

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