The river broke on Friday afternoon at 1:18 pm.
Of the break-ups I’ve seen, I’d say this was one of the quieter ones: the water level was low, and the blocks of ice relatively small and thin. Other years have involved the risk of flooding and chunks of ice the size of cars.
It does just feel really, really good to see the river flowing again. Winter up here is so long and so dark, and break-up is the fulfillment of the promise that winter doesn’t last forever.
Last night, I was sitting on the couch bathed in the blue glow of my laptop screen and lit from above by a yellow lamp. Around 10 pm, I looked out the window and the evening light called to me.
Light has been returning to the north since December 22nd, of course, and the dramatic shift in daylight hours we experience over the course of the year here is always compelling and beautiful. Spring light is particularly beguiling as it is accompanied by the excitement of the Yukon River breaking up.
Here are some photographs from my evening walk along the river, taken between approximately 10 pm and 11 pm.
The tripod out on the ice in the last two photographs is the official ‘ice is out!’ marker. There is a rope connecting the tripod to a clock on shore, and a local group sells tickets and people guess when the ice goes out. It’s quite a town event: the siren at the firehall rings and everyone in town heads down to the river to watch the icebergs floating past. I have heard that rivers upstream from town have broken, and the anticipation is that the tripod will go soon.
Related: I do really like the cute visualization of daylight hours found on the town’s website.