Posted by: Bonnie & Hans | September 11, 2011

Termination Dust

Seems there are different stories about the origin of the phrase “termination dust”. Some say it was the early miners who spoke of it as the end of the work in the mines. Some say it was the construction workers in the Anchorage area who talked of it as the end of the construction season and they headed to the Lower 48. Whatever the origin, it has come to mean the first dusting of snow in the mountains, signaling the end of summer/fall and announcing the coming of snow. This morning we awoke to a low ceiling, but when the skies cleared, we saw the termination dust!

Snow on the mountain tops

It has been a week of varying skies and incredible, brilliant foliage. One morning there was thick fog. We heard voices and followed the sound to the bank of the river where folks had paddled and poled upstream to check net. There was the thump of a club striking a still-living salmon caught in the net, silence as knowing hands freed the fish from the tangles, and the heavy sound of fish flesh as it landed in the metal wash tub.

Morning fog

Checking net

Thinning fog

Soon the sun broke through…

Sunrise after the fog

Some have been caribou hunting downriver and folks here continue to put up fish.

Whitefish rack

Row upon row of skillfully cut fish

Drying with the eggs inside

As the leaves continue to drop, so will the snowline.

Termination dust: a reminder to take in the colorful sights and smells before they are overtaken by white.



  1. Enjoyed your incredible fall scenery!

  2. Termination dust! It means the mosquitoes are gone!! Terminate the mosquitoes!! Woohoo!!!
    We’re just getting summer here. The alpine flowers are still blooming. It is hard to maintain the proper degree of enthusiasm as I look at the Olympics out of the windows of my classroom. But I try 🙂

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