I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

If you have a fur hat, put it on. Then check the bindings on your snowshoes. The first snow of the season is falling on Mt. Ripinsky, from the summit right on down the flanks– perhaps all the way to the microwave tower, it’s hard to tell from the sea-level windy wet perspective of a morning dog walk. I would have snapped a picture, but the camera lens fogged up. Local lore has it that town father Solomon Ripinsky  (the modern mountain namesake, although the real name is the Tlingit, Gei Sun) was a man of many hats, and that he announced the arrival of winter each year by donning the fur cossack hat he wore while in the Polish military before arriving here, where he was a teacher, postmaster, and territorial convention delegate, as soon as the first snow stuck on the mountain-top behind town. Sol fought hard to make us  Ripinsky, but lost. It is more colorful, and I think more suited to our town than plain Haines, but if we ever make a change we really should re-adopt the much more lyrical and meaningful name the first residents chose, Deishu.  But that’s a whole ‘nother story. 

Haines from the top of Mt. Ripinsky on a sunny day in March.