Who am I to say I'm cold?
Here's defending Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, fresh off the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race trails, beads of ice streaming down his beard and face, affluently answering anything and everything I have to offer.
I spent roughly an hour-and-a-half standing in the falling snow outside the Tustumena Lodge waiting for him to arrive. He was surrounded by frozen spruces in sub-zero temperatures for close to 24 hours.
Decked out in thermals, as well as winter boots and all the fixings for my upper body including the best pair of gloves I've ever owned, which just so happen to be armed with a compass in case I lose my sense of direction (which I'm pretty sure can happen in these mind-numbing moments) I was absolutely frozen.
Lets' just say George Costanza's fur-lined Gortex jacket would have come in handy.
Amidst interviewing the T-200 champion, I wondered if there was enough time to make a trip to the hospital to salvage my hand and still finish my story on deadline.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do both. Don't worry, I'm not writing this with one hand.
And I thought last February's stretch of minus 25 degrees for a few days was cold.
The current prolonged frozen spell, however, is like nothing I've ever experienced. But as long as my car starts each and every morning (knock, knock), I'll continue to marvel at it.
Sure, it puts a damper on outdoor activities. But if there's one thing I learned the moment I arrived in the Last Frontier, it's that cool weather can't deter you.
So, on multiple occasions, I've ventured behind the Soldotna Sports Center or to the ConocoPhillips Multipurpose Facility in Kenai to knock the puck around.
One night after work, skating by myself, I couldn't feel the tips of my fingers just one minute into lacing up my skates. At roughly 1:30 p.m. Monday, when temps were fluctuating between minus 5 and minus 16, I dressed in the warming hut. Within minutes of darting around the rink, my toes and fingers, despite wearing a solid pair of hockey mitts, were numb again. I stuck it out, though, netted a few goals and promptly hopped into a scalding hot shower the minute I arrived home.
That was all for entertainment, too. Friends and family wondered if I was insane? Nope. Just getting by.
Last Saturday, work called again.
Two people insisted I dress warm this time. Did I listen? I thought I had.
But the instant I stepped inside Homer Ice Arena, I immediately realized I was wrong yet again.
Believing I was comfortably prepared to cover the North Star Conference championship hockey game on the Homer Spit last Saturday, I sported wool socks, jeans, a T-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a heavy wool sweater and cap and my newly purchased ski parka.
After merely 15 minutes of play, my toes were numb, fingers frozen and body aching.
I'm not sure thermal underwear would have helped much. Peterman's Himalayan Walking Shoes probably would have done the trick, though.
Evidently, the rink wasn't heated, as I had previously believed, and I'm pretty certain the temperature inside mirrored that of outside.
But I shouldn't have expected anything different.
It's been more than a week of waking up to minus 15 and arriving home to minus 20. Most people are probably sick of it.
I, on the other frozen hand, am rooting for minus 27 a new personal low.
And maybe it's already hit that. I just wouldn't know. When it's that cold, I tend to stay inside.
What am I, stupid?
Matthew Carroll is a sports reporter for the Clarion and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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