Monday, September 22, 2008

Classic Alaskan Weekend

I have been waiting, wanting, desperately seeking an Alaskan weekend: one with good weather, one with good company, one with good story-telling adventures. I considered putting out a personal ad or wanted ad for this type of adventure...until Friday came about.

Margo called me mid afternoon. We opted to go fishing at Mission Lake. Salmon jumped and taunted us; and whereas we caught nothing, the sun warmed us, a nesting pair of eagles flew over our heads and landed in their nest in a nearby tree, and a sea lion popped his head out of the water 250 yard away from our empty lures.

Later that evening, we joined Josh at the Old Powerhouse for some sushi and catching up before we attended a talk at the Nature Center. A UAF professor presented on his summer excursions along the Aleutian chain. He and five other divers and scientists completed 440 dives and found 20 new species of invertebrates. His slide show featured amazingly clear pictures of the colorful sea stars, urchins, fish, and octopi; I was in awe. After the lecture, we came back to the house so I could medicate Tok (he was neutered on Friday morning). We put him on his pillow on the back porch and sat outside drinking beer and eating popcorn. As the moon rose around 2300 AST, we were in the back yard gazing up at the stars as Josh pointed out constellations.

24 hours later, on Saturday eve, I joined a bunch of friends at Dave's place. We celebrated his "Open the Bar" party and several friends' recent promotions from O3 to O4. The crowd was small but lively. We all lamented at the reality of fishing season coming to a close and made plans to either fish or hike the following day.

We ended up hiking after Josh got out of church. Josh picked up Margo, Roger, and me, and we headed to Three Sisters, an aptly named chain. With my freshly baked granola in each of our camelpacks, we made out way up the mountainside- through salmon berry bushes, intermittent streams, and long grass. Having gone to school in Appalachia, I have been privy to remarkable colors that our deciduous trees cast as the seasons cool. In Kodiak, the moss and shrubs bloom into amazing wildflowers in late summer, and then the foliage turns, very similar to how our east coast trees turn...but on the ground...not in tree tops.

We spied some pretty fresh bear scat early in the trail but saw no other real signs of them as we made our way to the top. The view from the top of the two peaks allowed us to spy down on the town of Kodiak. Eagles soared underneath us, we heard shots from the local VFW firing range, and we were all disappointed when no whales showed up in the bays beneath our perch. As the sun started to set, we reached the second peak and watched the sun glimmer on the side of a Princess Cruise ship that left our docks. Earlier that morning, at church, Josh had met one of their crew members, who stated that they were headed to Korea, China, and Japan. As we hopped and half slid down the opposite side from whence we came, I thought about how exciting it would be to take such an adventure, and then I stopped thinking and just absorbed that I had climbed about 2500 feet and covered roughly five miles of trail in one of the most remarkable places on earth. And although I have a few sore muscles this morning, I could not imagine a more invigorating Alaskan weekend.

Me, early in the hike-- notice the lack of sleeves

Josh and me on the hillside on the way up the first peak.

Roger and me with the valley behind us.

The bowl along Devil's Prongs. Golden mushrooms and red cranberry leaves.

Roger, passed out...half way up.

Mad skillz...

Josh and me taking in the view as we make our way down to the pass from the first peak and onto the second peak (notice the sleeves).

A view half way up the second peak.
I love the mohawk of grass along the trail of the second peak.Tall grass with Kodiak in the background.

Group shot (L-R): Josh, me, Margo, Roger (notice the hat)
Black tailed Sitka deer (notice how different is the vegetation from the previous pictures. You can really tell we descended another peak)
Editor's Note: I did not have my camera with me; I made a last minute switch in vests and forgot it in the other one. Margo and Josh took plenty. These are from Margo; When Josh shares his, I will update this post.


Mom said...

September in Columbia! No sleeves:(

Flo said...

What an absolutely amazing weekend!! I love these photos and I'm so glad you're having so much fun up there. I need to visit soon!