Barber Cabin.

In February, we started planning our summer activities. We found that the Barber Cabin was available for a couple of nights in the middle of May. To us, summer is May, June, and July, no matter what the weather is doing. These are the best times to have nice weather.

I packed up the dogs and gear for a couple of days and headed out to the Kenai Peninsula. It has been pretty grey and rainy for the beginning of our summer. I was excited to get out of town.img_4681

It is a short and easy walk to the cabin. I was testing out having Finn carry some supplies. The boys did well. I was careful not to overpack their packs for the first hike of the season. Finn was unsure until he saw his first grouse. Then he completely forgot that he had a pack on his back.img_4682

I had left Anchorage in the rain and it was grey, windy, and sporadically raining on the trail. The trail is wide and mostly flat. The cabin is almost accessible by wheelchair.img_4684When we arrived, the cabin was warm and the stove still had some heat in it. That is a great feeling. Thanks to the people that I passed on the trail. They were hunting bears and like wire haired pointers. Life in Alaska.img_4720We didn’t see any bears which I found surprising. Of course, two loud dogs with bear bells may have helped alert the cautious Ursidae. There is allegedly good fishing in the lake. The cabin was conveniently close to the lake and canoe is provided in the cabin rental. When the wind picked up, there were whitecaps on the lake and we hunkered down in the cabin. When the wind slowed, Lando showed Finn how to fetch things in the water. Finn is still apprehensive about swimming.img_4727-effectsWe took the canoe out on the lake during a calm spell. We didn’t catch or see any fish. We did see a moose swim across the lake. That got Finn excited enough to stand on the bow.img_4714This is a great cabin that is easily accessed. Check it out after fishing the Russian River. The Russian Lakes Trail looks like another place to explore more this summer.img_4713

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Caines Head, Seward, Alaska.

This one also counts as hike 3/52.

This trail is incredible. It starts outside of Seward on a dirt road that passes an enormous waterfall. It wouldn’t be the last waterfall we saw on this trip. The trail is very well maintained. It had rained the day before, but there were boardwalks everywhere that there needed to be. With the ground smelling wet and everything looking greener than usual, we set off with high hopes and full packs.

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We crossed our first large creek/small river and we spent a little too much time looking for salmon that we hoped would be returning to spawn. This was not a fishing trip and it was difficult to leave a rod behind. Especially when I saw a guy in the parking lot stringing up a fly rod and heading to the beach.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.44.49 AMWe walked in the forest for the first mile or so. Up and down a small hill. We emerged and the trail headed towards the beach. This is where we would find out if we had timed things correctly. At high tide, many places are impassable. On an incoming tide, you can be trapped in small coves or on large rocks. The tides can be quite large here so a very low tide is ideal. A very high tide can be dangerous.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.45.20 AMThis was option number one for a camp spot. Right next to the waterfall. It was only a couple of miles in. It would have been easy, but people would be passing by a lot and it wasn’t our original destination. We wanted something a little further from the trailhead. Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.45.50 AM

After a couple miles of walking on the beach in beautiful sunshine, the trail turned into the forest again. It started uphill and we began to sweat. We couldn’t stop because of the mosquitoes. And we are stubborn. We came to a fork in the trail and chose the more difficult path. We didn’t know about the elevation gain. Or the trail turning to muddy single track, but it mentioned something about the alpine something or other and that sounded pleasant. Imagine sweating, swearing, panting people with legs burning and terrible thoughts racing through their minds.

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I was wondering why I wasn’t laying on my couch scrolling through Instagram like any sane person should be doing with a few days off. The small streams in the high alpine fields were absolutely beautiful.

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We had to be mildly alert for bears as we saw scat on the trail. Eventually the trail headed downhill and we hiked on cool dry creek beds.

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When we thought that we couldn’t take any more strenuous hiking, we thought that we were hallucinating hearing waves. this might be the best view from the trip. Emerging out of the forest and finding the ocean again. We knew that we had made it to South Beach. It wasn’t in Florida, it was much better than that.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.47.20 AMThis was our view for three days. There were two people there when we arrived. It was a Sunday and they were headed out. This nurse career seemed like a good choice at that moment. We were all alone.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.48.03 AMAt night we started a fire before it got dark.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.48.29 AMIt didn’t really get dark because it is summer here. And the moon looked like this when it rose. It was hard to sleep with such beauty around us. Eventually, we hung out bag of food out of the way of the bears and made it to bed.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.48.51 AMIt was easy to lay in bed when we looked out of the tent and saw the same things, but in a different light. The sweltering heat in a tent seems to push you out. Even in Alaska.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.49.23 AMThe next day, a couple of friends joined us for a night. We watched Orcas cruise in the bay. Sea lions were curious enough to pop up their heads near shore. Bald eagles seem to be everywhere up here.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.49.45 AMAnother successful trip in the backcountry. Also, we didn’t see any fish, so I was glad that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on an amazing fishing trip.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.50.00 AMThanks for reading!

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Moving to Alaska – Day 9.

Happy Birthday Dad. We packed it up from Babine Lake and thought that we would really get started on our adventure. Our first stop was a place we saw First Nations using a dipnet to catch fish.

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It was time to get onto the Cassiar highway. This is where we turned north from Kitwanga and headed in towards the Yukon Territory. There are very few towns, no cell phone service, no wifi, and gas stations are only open during the day.

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This is one of the places where we saw black bears close to the road.

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There were lots of time where we didn’t see another person, but lots of beautiful scenery.

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Don’t worry, we were totally safe. Notice the bear spray on the belt loop at all times. We also found tall Fireweed. I don’t remember ever seeing Fireweed, but it is everywhere as you go north.

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There are different accommodation options all along the way. We found “resorts” for $150 a night, but opted for the free Bonus Lake Forest Recreation Site.

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I can’t get over how great these recreation sites can be. We are steps from Bonus Lake (which has many trout eager to take a fly).

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There is a composting toilet, picnic tables, and fire rings. There are only 3 campsites. When we arrived we were alone. It was starting to rain, so we set up our tent quickly. I met a nice dutch guy who stopped with his truck, camper, and three kids just to make coffee. He says that he stays in recreation sites 6 days a week while on vacation. He left after chatting for a while. He was headed to Smithers to stock up on Dutch things. He said that 1/3 of the town is of Dutch heritage so there are shops that sell Dutch candies and things imported from the Netherlands that remind him of his childhood.

The weather got worse and a nice Canadian couple showed up and sat in the pouring rain with us. They had a camper, but had a couple of beers at our table and discussed life. It was interesting to meet all kinds of people on this trip. The man was a hunter. Well he shot things. He told us stories of shooting animals that he never intended to eat that he would get a permit for after killing it and report it even after that. Seemed a bit like a “if it has eyes it dies” kind of hunter. He lived in his camper as he worked construction for things like oil and gas pipelines. He would be away from home for months at a time chasing work. Rough life up here.

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Moving to Alaska – Day 6.

We are just a few miles out of the town of Quesnel, so we can spoil ourselves with things like dinner from a restaurant. We always order our food to go. Sitting down and being waited on just feels too fancy for our camping road trip. When we are at our campsite, we spend most of our time paddling our canoe at 10 Mile Lake. We moved to the 10 Mile Lake Resort. The resort consists of 4 tent sites right on the edge of the lake. We like to watch the sun set after dinner. That can take a long time this far north. We also do a lot of walks with the dogs. There are lots of bugs around. Mostly, they are the good bugs that trout eat. Most of the time we remember to put their bear bells on, but not always. We drink wine at night and tea in the morning. Even if we only have two sporks, two bowls, and two mugs, life is pretty good.Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.17.42 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.17.19 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.17.55 AM

Moving to Alaska – Day 2.

We woke up without an alarm and saw our campsite for the first time since we had arrived at night. Sorry to our neighbors that had to deal with us inflating our air bed as soon as we arrived. The spot was nice enough and we decided to stay for another couple of nights. The person in charge of the campground informed us that every spot was booked for the whole weekend. We decided to head north. I guess we wouldn’t be climbing at the world famous Chief after all. Oh well. This was a fun vacation with only loose plans so we couldn’t be too disappointed when things didn’t work out perfectly.

The town of Squamish was cool and looked like very other town that had a big time outdoor feel. We stopped at a bakery (probably vegan, gluten free, fair trade, overpriced) for lunch and I saw a guy in a Mountain Sun t-shirt. I started to realize that the thing that makes these towns (Boulder, CO) feel so fun/cool/outdoorsy is actually replicated in quite a few places in the world. We stopped at the fly shop in town and it seemed to be geared more towards people taking guided trips than DIYers like us. We picked up some unnecessary flies and headed north.

We stopped at Brandywine Falls because our guide book told us it was beautiful. The Milepost is the bible. (Sorry Kim Davis.) Anyone driving to Alaska will hear this over and over again. It is very useful. Stopping at visitor centers turned out be pretty good as well.

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The next stop was the Disney like “town” of Whistler. Giant dirt lots of pay to park areas combined with the fact that I knew everything was over priced and nothing special helped me convince Amanda that we didn’t need to see anything there. It felt like Vail, Aspen, or any other ski town except that Wanderlust was about to happen. I kinda wanted to check out their bike park and see the place, but we left there and moved on.

Don’t stop in Pemberton unless you have to. We stopped for lunch. It was hot and uneventful.Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.08.52 PM

We were getting sick of driving and decided that the next campground is where we would stop for the night. Just off the main road was a campground between two lakes. Now here is where I should mention the weather. It was hot in Seattle. You know like upper 80s. In Seattle, that is hot enough where people start getting whiny. We didn’t think that it would be getting hotter we went north. Turns out, we were headed inland as well. We were close to a small town called Lillooet, in British Columbia. This area has the record for being the hottest place in Canada. We were trudging uphill in our decade old car and the thermometer read 103 degrees. That was about the time the thermostat starting moving up. The one that never moves. The gauge in the car that normally stays as still as the horizon was pointing up higher and higher. This wasn’t good. We pulled over to let the engine cool down. Unfortunately, it was over 100 and wasn’t cooling down. We poured a little water in the engine coolant container, turned on the heat, and proceeded to the campground. The check engine light came on and my patience was gone. I figured that this would be the beginning of the end. But whatever, we found a campsite between two lakes. We limped in, set up our amazing tent, our jumped in the water. The old crusty sweat turned into a slime and slowly came off of us. I tried to forget that the car might be dead and just enjoy the water.

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Vacation-Day 5.

Our fifth day saw us cross back over Johnstone Strait. Once again, we had perfect conditions and not a care in the world about the currents or wind. We camped near Kaikash Creek and had a great afternoon feeling fresh water and watching the wildlife. That night, the moon rose dramatically and we brushed our teeth in awe.

We loved it.

We loved it.

This was probably the most built up campsite that we visited. It has a metal fire pit and just down the trail, a composting toilet! It was quite a bit of luxury.

Fires matched the sunset.

Fires matched the sunset.

Another moon rising over Johnstone Strait.

Another moon rising over Johnstone Strait.

We spent a lot of time identifying birds.

Beautiful wildlife.

Beautiful wildlife.

Luxury camping.

Luxury camping.

Canada Vacation – Day 4.

Blackney Passage is a very popular shipping lane. There was a lot of logging in the area. Combining shipping and logging is a feat that amazes me still.

Logs.

Logs.

A lot of logs.

A lot of logs.

We woke up on the day that was supposed to have the worst weather. The currents were very strong. We were forced to stay within a paddle length of the shore of the islands. We couldn’t get very far. We tried to paddle along Hanson Island to the Orca Research Centre, but we couldn’t make it. We were forced to sit in the kelp and watch our new friends play.

Sea lions watching Amanda.

Sea lions watching Amanda.

We paddled until we found a place that we thought would be a good campsite for the night. Unfortunately, companies can buy the rights to nice areas and kick people off the best spots. They set up giant tents, a small kitchen complete with barbecues, and composting toilets. It is fun to use the facilities and then leave before they get there. It reminds me of being a kid and going to the fancy resorts, using the waterslides, and not being a paying guest.

Poaching the private hammocks.

Poaching the private hammocks.

We found an abandoned cabin that had been made mostly from materials found on the island. It was a bit creepy. There was canned food on the shelves as if someone had gone crazy and just left. Or maybe they were murdered and the killer was silently waiting for unsuspecting tourists just in the shadows. Amanda thought all of these things and I had to tell her that she was being ridiculous. She doesn’t know that I was expecting to find a half rotten corpse in any of the shacks. Either way, we set up our tent and had awesome views as long as we didn’t let the creepy ideas into our head.

Another day in the life.

Another day in the life.

The wildlife was as impressive as always. This black tailed deer came to check us out. He checked in our boats for snacks before eating seaweed at low tide. We had a full moon for our trip and the tides would rise over 16 feet. We really had to think about where we tied up our boats at night. I woke up a few times and looked out of our tent to make sure our boats were still there. You really doubt your knots at 2am with no way of getting back to civilisation.

A deer friend of ours.

A deer friend of ours.

Killers.

Killers.