Monday, August 24, 2009

Alaska 2009 - part 1

Well folks, I'm back from my vacation, and I almost didn't come back.
It was N I C E and even though chilly like a California winter, the laid back nature of the people around the Kenai and the incredibly beautiful landscapes and so few people and the plethora of food gathering opportunities made it so tempting just to forget about my job and not go back.
Psychedelic mushrooms
But, I did. I couldn't leave anyone in a lurch with no warning. But I warn you now, if the opportunity presents itself with the right job and an affordable place to live, I am moving to the Homer, AK area! The cost of living is SOOOO much better there. I could actually afford to buy a small house (provided a job paying the same is available) on the grid there, although I think my dream is off the grid (or mostly off the grid) with 5 acres or so. That's even more affordable, but would take some prep work.
We started off in Anchorage after camping at Centennial Park campground. Not bad if you don't want to leave the city, but I wouldn't recommend it alone. It's creepy and apparently some scumbag teens beat a homeless man to death there about a month ago.
Anyway, we headed up the Seward Highway to the Glenn Highway where we headed east. It was a stormy day, so we didn't get much in the way of views.
Matanuska Glacier
We continued to Glennallen where we stopped for lunch & a fishing license for Tim. Then we headed down to the Copper River with a detour at the new Wrangell-St. Elias visitor's center. Very nice displays in 3-4 different buildings.
We arrived in Chitina late that afternoon and because it wasn't going to take that long to hike to where we would camp - and plenty of daylight left - we drove across the Copper River bridge towards McCarthy and turned off at the confluence where the Chitina River joins the Copper. Here's where the subsistence fisheries are.
Fish Wheel with salmon applique
It was still raining at this time, but we weren't going to let that stop us. We headed over to O'Brien Creek where there is parking since you can't drive across O'Brien Creek bridge anymore except in an ATV. 5 years ago, we were able to drive Tim's truck down to the fishing rock. Anyway, we hiked in about 3 or 4 miles to Tim's regular spot and discovered it was already taken. Just down the trail were a couple of other camping spots just out of the way of the ATVs & at the edge of the cliff.
Our campsite - Tim, Dad & I slept here attempting to stay dry.
Bill & Charles, Dad's friends & traditional backpacking companions, had their tent 60 feet or so away in another spot.

Unfortunately, our salmon fishing wasn't a success. That night we had salmon for dinner, but that was the only one Tim caught. They just weren't running. Everyone else seemed to have the same problem. Except for this one woman who was chartered in across the river from where Tim ended up fishing at. She caught 17 - or so she said; you know how fishermen tell tales ;) She's a resident, so for her household she's allowed 25 or 30.

Next update I'll share more pics of the Copper River views.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Is your campsite as close to the edge as it looks??

That would have scared me to death.
Can't wait to hear more about your adventures.

Red said...

Why yes, it was that close. One foot max from the edge. Of course, laying down wasn't so bad. Setting it up took some care. But the worst thing was the pathway between our camp and Bill & Charlie's and the firering; full of water and had to walk on the outside edge. And some people had to drink too much too. Now THAT was scary.

Linda in Erie said...

Alaska! How I want to go to Alaska. We will get there one of these years but I doubt I'll be able sleep on the ground. Can't wait for the rest of your journey.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Girl, don't start me on the "off the grid/five acres/get me outta here" thing!

I hear ya.

Red said...

Definitely make that trip Linda! Even people who experience it in the comfort of a rental motorhome or even just train/cruise ship & hotels remember it forever.

The hard part with sleeping on the ground is getting out of bed, lol :) None of us are spring chickens anymore.

LOL Lulu :D And you live in an even more crowded & violent area than I do!

Adam R. Paul said...

Cool. Love the brilliant shrooms, and your minimal campsite!

Heidi said...

Thanks Adam :) Usually when I camp there's no rain, so the campsite is even more minimal... tarp, pad & bag and that's it.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Heidi,
Sorry I'm so late getting to this adventure. Starting at the beginning, I'll just say, you're one tough woman! I like camping, but not roughing it!

Heidi said...

Well, I did whine the first two nights. First night at Centennial Park somehow only *I* ended up sleeping on the only root under the tarp. That was not fun. I had two sleeping pads, but they don't prevent the awkward pokes.

The next night along the copper river, we all slept on several rocks, but once again, *I* happened to be on the rock that was too big to remove and poking me in my ribs. And with nowhere to go I couldn't get comfortable.

The following night in Valdez was once again roughing it, but it was all small rocks and much much easier to sleep on.

Oh, and I was thrilled to stop in Valdez the eve before for running water and a toilet... and the next morning we packed up early enough I could wait for flush toilets again at breakfast.


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