The Kuskokwim River is still frozen, but not for long. The river ice is thick...I've heard anywhere from 2-10ft, depending on who you're talking to. Nevertheless, its bound to break up sometime. Breakup is a big deal because it marks the beginning of the subsistence fishing season/lifestyle and life at fish camp. Transportation becomes easier by boat and the fun of summer can begin. I'm looking forward to seeing the spectacle of the breakup. When the river ice breaks up and floats downstream or crashes on itself on the shore, everyone is there to watch. Here in Bethel, we have the Kuskokwin Ice Classic. This is where you try and guess on the month, day, and time of breakup. They put a metal contraption out on the river ice and hook it by a wire/cable to a clock inside of a little shed. When the river breaks up, the contraption falls into the river, which stops the clock. Above is a picture of the shed, with the river contraption in the distance. Below is a picture of the river contraption with the shed in the distance.
The person who comes the closest without going over wins half of all the money collected through ticket sales. The other half of the money goes to various fundraisers, such as the school library and special olympics. Tickets were sold in books of five. They give you a little calendar that shows the dates (but not times) of the river breakup for the past decade or so. I couldnt resist...after all, there are not many places in the world where you can bet on the breakup of a river? So, I bought two tickets books. The first set of five, I just looked at the calendar and guessed...went with my gut...picked whatever popped into my head. Here are the dates I choose...
April 20, 12pm
May 3, 4:34pm
May 4, 10:52pm
May 8, 2:43pm
May 13, 9:53pm.
Then, I kept hearing people say it was going to be a late breakup because it's been a cold winter. Being the scientist that I am, I decided to do some research and found out that, sure enough, it's been a colder than usual winter. So, I bought another book of five tickets and picked these dates...
May 6, 10:52am
May 9, 3:26pm
May 16, 9:19pm
May 21, 5:42am
May 26, 3:13am
Last year's winner took home $8600!
All of this from a girl who grew up in Vegas, but has probably gambled away less than $100 in here lifetime...wish me luck!