Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekend Adventures

After filleting and vacuuming sealing, I cleaned the kitchen at 0130. Seven hours later, after some sleep, I cleaned the house in anticipation of my weekend guests. Kim, a colleague, and her SO, Andy, joined me for a fun weekend of outdoor activities. They rose early and boarded the train in Anchorage and embarked on a four hour ride through glaciers to get to Seward. Upon pick up at the train station, I took them to Le Barn Appetit, a Creperie owned by Ivan and Janet. Ivan, the flirty Frenchmen, treated us to his 16 inch crepes, stuffed with caribou, cheese, and spinach. His outlook on life and his stories had us in stitches as we finished a strawberry and nutella crepe as dessert.

We made a quick change into kayaking gear and drove to Miller’s Landing at Lowell Point. Kim and I shared a tandem kayak; and Andy captained his own single person kayak. Our float plan took us to Caines Head with a couple of stops to hike waterfalls and sunsoaking at Derby Cove. We went against the start of incoming tide as we headed south. Upon our return north, I had hoped that the combination of a wind from the south and the tide would expedite our transit. Unfortunately, we hit some cross currents as a result of an incoming storm churning outside of the bay and the wake of multiple charters and sightseeing vessels returned to the harbor in the late afternoon. Our tandem rode atop some of the larger waves, eliciting squeals of “yeeeehawwww” from Kim and me.
The next day, the sunshine turned to rain. But: have raingear, will hike. We set off for Mt. Marathon- but not the runner’s trail (I ain’t that crazy, dear readers). We sought the trailhead for the “Jeep Trail” that takes us to Schaeffer Falls and then up to the bowl (behind the mountain where it abuts the range). Seeing a “wide” Jeep trail, I did not change from my water-resistant pants to my actual rainpants. In hindsight, I was an idiot for not doing so. I tried out my carhart rainjacket as a warm hiking jacket; and it did, indeed, keep me warm. Half way up the first leg, I stripped off my jacket, took off my shirt, and then clad in only my sportsbra, I placed the carhart over my shoulders, allowing the hood to hang off me like a cape. There was no mirror; but my guests assured me I looked like a fool. But, hey, it’s Alaska, and after seeing what people wear to run this mountain, anyone who sees me on this trail can deal with my faux cape.

We broke out of treeline and into lush meadows of flowers and waist high skunk cabbage and alders. The trail narrowed to a small foot path for the remainder; this is where I became soaked from the waist down. After scampering over some mudladen corners, we rounded the northfacing slope of the mountain. In the bottom of the bowl, the wind caught us. We pulled back on our layers, zipped up, and met the rain in the face. The wildflowers landscape changed to berry brush; each of us noted where to come berry picking next month- cranberries, blueberries, and possibly some nagoon berries (if I identified the plant leaves correctly).

As we hiked up into the bowl, we met a snowpack. Tok was the happiest puppy in the world. His whole demeanor changed as he bolted from the trail and into the pack, rolling around and licking the frozen white precipitation. As we turned to head back, he literally hopped through the berry meadow, renewed from his roll in the snow.

So, within the span of three days I caught three sockeye dipnetting on the Kenai, soaked in the sunshine from a kayak bound for Caines Head, and then met a snowpack in the north bowl of Mt. Marathon.

Just your typical weekend in Alaska.

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