Living in Alaska · Trail Running · Weekend · Winter

A Shaky Weekend

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!

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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.

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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!

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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?

30 thoughts on “A Shaky Weekend

  1. Here in northern England (I live in North Yorkshire, 1h from Newcastle Upon Tyne) are no earthquakes. Sometimes there are light ones in the south, but barely noticeable, so I heard.
    When it comes to socializing, I have to gather up all my confidence, as I am quite shy at first.
    Yesterday I replied to a stranger on Facebook and asked if she would mind me joining her on a half marathon recce run coming Sunday morning. I even have to drive over to the coast (only 1h drive) to meet her and others I have never seen before!
    As for today, a storm is having a party outside, it is raining, I got woken up at 5 by my son Cash and should exercise, BIG SIGH…

    1. Wow I never thought of England having earthquakes! I know they can happen all over, but I know the west coast of north/south America is always hit pretty hard and I never thought about that side of the world. You’re so lucky! Also, I’m just as shy as you but I think it’s so awesome that you are willing to go out and make new running friends! Good luck!

    1. Yes! In that ADN article that I posted up above they actually mention that. Since the earthquake happened in the middle of the night, they said we all should have just stayed in bed (as long as no lights/fans/shelves were anywhere above you) because running around in the dark having things fall on you is actually more dangerous than staying put. Unfortunately we don’t have any desks or tables in my apartment, so we need to think of a better plan. I’m not sure if I can re-train myself to not get to the doorway right when it happens – but at least the doorway we’ve been using is safe from falling objects so that’s a plus! 🙂 Thanks for sending that article, it was really interesting and a great reminder that Alaska is built to be ready for stuff like this!

  2. I don’t usually watch the news on the weekend at all & I didn’t even hear about your earthquake. So glad you’re okay and even though I’ve been in a few small ones, I’ve never felt one anything close to that strong. Thank God.

    We did go to northern CA a year after their big one quite a few years ago. We figured a year later things would be back to normal — such an eye opener that it STILL wasn’t back to normal.

    I am a terrible public speaker and thankfully rarely have to do it; it makes me very nervous.

    1. Yeah it was on the news, but luckily I had the foresight to text my mom at 2 am (6 am her time) to tell her I was okay and would call her once I woke up because I knew she’d freak out once she saw it! The CA quake is interesting because it was smaller than the one I just went through but caused more damage. It made me feel a lot calmer knowing that AK is equipped to handle this – mostly because we had to rebuild everything up to earthquake code after everything got destroyed in ’64! Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who hates public speaking around here 🙂

      1. Yeah, and for one year I was a WW leader, which is in some ways public speaking. So not me but I really enjoyed that!

        Yes, we figured a year later things would be back to normal. Businesses were still doing business like a farmer’s market in downtown! It was a real eye opener.

        I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything more than maybe 4, which is nothing. Frankly, I’d like to keep it that way, too!

    1. Yes! I lived in Philly at the time and felt it! I’m not going to lie, this one was so different from that one – but it does give you an idea of what it feels like to randomly have your entire apartment shake! It’s so creepy!

    1. I was in Philly at the time and felt that quake! But in Philly it was more of a “What on earth was that?” feeling than a “Oh god, duck and cover!” feeling. I can’t imagine an earthquake like this in Philly or DC now, those buildings weren’t built to sway and stay upright 😦

  3. Wow, that must have been so scary! I’m glad you’re both ok and that your apartment didn’t sustain any major damage. I live in VT so I’ve never felt a big earthquake, but there was one that happened while I was in high school that was strong enough to feel. It was pretty surreal, I thought I was imagining it!

    1. Yes! I feel that way about a lot of the quakes here. We have a website that tracks all the earthquakes so sometimes we have to look ones up to make sure we’re not dreaming. You are so lucky to live in a mostly earthquake-free area, that is definitely one of the things I miss about living in Philly after this weekend 😦

  4. That is so scary! I am so glad to hear that you are okay. I can’t imagine the fear of an earthquake starting and then not knowing how long it will last or how destructive it will be. Again, so glad that you are alright!

    That trail run looks absolutely gorgeous! I’ve been loving the fact that my part of Michigan has no snow right now, but I might be willing to accept a little bit of snow if it meant having a gorgeous trail like that to run!

  5. Yikes… glad you guys are okay! I’ve been terrified of earthquakes since I learned about the 1906 San Francisco one as a kid. My husband is from CA and insists that they’re “fun” but luckily I haven’t experienced any big enough to feel while I’ve been out there visiting his family! As for weekend winter activities… does shoveling count? 🙂 We only got a few inches out of Jonas so it wasn’t too bad!

    1. This is going to sound weird, but some of them are “fun” – like anything below a 5. It’s a few seconds of shaking that end right away and I’m like “Oh haha an earthquake!” and go on with my business. It’s anything that’s strong enough to scare me that is no longer fun anymore. They used to be a novelty to me, but I’m thinking after this one I’ll probably be afraid every time from now on!

      Also, that 1906 earthquake was so scary because of how unprepared San Fran was for the quake. Now people know how to build safe buildings and stay safe so hopefully things won’t be that bad in the US again. I just don’t like the fact that you don’t know when they are coming! 😦

      1. That’s a good point about the 1906 quake… we’re definitely better prepared these days! I have the feeling I’ll still be freaked out, even over the small ones, until I experience one or two. But I’m happy to not have that happen any time soon! 🙂

  6. wow, that Earthquake sounds so scary! I’m glad you were ok, and didn’t have to worry about a tsunami with this one either! I experienced one a few years ago, and it just felt like I was on a boat for a minute. It was entertaining, but I can def. see how any longer than a few seconds just starts to get SCARY! Over the weekend my winter activities included staying inside/opening the door to see how much snow we got, and then shoveling shoveling shoveling with a few snowball fights mixed in there. 27″ of snow!! lol figures, you move out of PA and we get the biggest blizzard since ’96!

    1. Yes to the entertaining/scary factor! I just talked about that in the comment above! They’re fun when they are short and tiny, but anything long enough to make me realize that things could get dangerous is no fun anymore.

      Also, my mom was like “Oh you got an earthquake? I had to shovel over 2 feet of snow!” and was complaining all over the place. I was a bit concerned that she was comparing her pretty snow to my scary earthquake experience, but that’s just mom life I guess 🙂 I’m so jealous of your snow!!!

  7. I’ve only experienced one earthquake and it was a pretty small one years ago. I remember being very confused about what was going on though! I can’t imagine how scary this must have been for you. 😦 So glad you’re ok and didn’t experience any major damage. Great job pushing past it and focusing on your word of the year!

    1. Haha yeah, our snow situation is grim. And it’s been in the high 30s/low 40s the last few days and so much is melted now! Luckily they started making fake snow at one of the cross country ski parks so I’ll be using that for the rest of the winter!

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