Sunday, September 14, 2008

I survived the weekend!!

Well I made it through the wilderness camping trip with no permanent scars!! Our weekend of wilderness adventures began on a gray and rainy Seward Friday. (Did I mention rainy? You will see that became a running theme for the weekend.) We boarded the boat, and by boat I mean large piece of tin foil that would ferry us across the 900 feet of glacier fed water, to our cabin for the weekend. There were four of us and about 600 pounds of gear, so not quite the roughing it I had expected. Luckily my camp mates were planning on staying in comfort all weekend. It was pouring rain but we were all hopeful it would burn off soon - thank goodness we didn't bet on that and instead all packed our rainboats.
Then we rode across the slightly choppy seas for about 45 minutes to a small cove on the Eastern side of the bay that opened into the Gulf of Alaska and was backed by the Chugach Mountains. We arrived on a rocky beach and unloaded our gear under the watchful eye of several bald eagles and in a backdrop of glaciers which encircled the bay. (We could hear then crack and thunder sporadically over the weekend) We hauled our gear inland to the cabin (still in the rain). We promptly fired up the wood stove within the small log cabin that held a picnic table and 2 sets of bunk beds. That stove stayed stoked all weekend to keep the chilly (and still wet) weather away. We took care of all the essentials first, starting the fire, rolling out our sleeping bags and making sure the beer was on ice. We also surveyed our surroundings - about 150 yards from the beach but more importantly about 25 yards from the latrine up the hill. Those were 25 very long and scary yards once it got dark as we were definitely in bear country.
After a gourmet dinner of steak, rice and veggies - all cooked on the fire - we played a few hands of cards by lantern light and of course participated in the ritual making of smores required by all campers. About 10 pm, 2 hours after darkness fell and much more rain as well, we made our last sprints to the latrine and turned in for the night. It was a quite night except for the constant patter of raindrops on the metal roof and the occasional trip to put another log on the fire so we didn't wake up chilled to the bone.
The next morning it was up shortly after the sun - to find it raining more.... some coffee started the day with breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes to follow. (A better breakfast than I have had in months!) The morning found us making short 10 minute jaunts out to the beach or to look around the creek bed, but as the wind and rain picked up it was back to the cabin. I read a bit and learned to play cribbage. We listened to some music and of course the ever present rain. We skipped lunch as we hadn't spent many calories sitting around. Late in the afternoon we couldn't take it anymore so we put on all the raingear and headed out for some exploring. We walked down the beach and crossed a few creek beds to find a slew of mussels, star fish and watch the waterfowl working the cove for small fish. The salmon were running up the stream at the head of the cove but we couldn't get that far before the rain got too heavy to go any further. So we picked fresh blueberries on the way back right off the rain washed bushes. Dinner of fresh grilled salmon, roasted corn and more vegetables followed. We stayed up late playing games and as a result found the need to roast some hot dogs to wash down the previously mentioned beer. Then in to our bunks for another night of rain soaked dreams.
Up this morning with the sun to pack up and clean our camping area so that we could hike all the gear down to the beach and flag down our ride back to civilization. We did have an interesting observer as we stacked our stuff on the beach - a giant bald eagle was perched on a large piece of driftwood just down the beach from us. When they are eye level like that you realize just how massive they are!
Not much wildlife seen on this tip thanks to the weather, but I guess that was a good thing. The campers log in the cabin referenced lots of bear sightings in the weeks before our arrival so we knew they were out there and hoped they wouldn't look for a dry place to sleep snuggled up next to us on our bunks!!
After a nice hot shower and some laundry time - I'm ready to get back to my routine job tomorrow. Although, working with endangered animals and world renowned scientists isn't really all that routine I guess.
Glad to hear that family and friends survived the storm down south and hope all of you had as restful and fulfilling a weekend as I did.

Until next time - Take time for what you like and take care....Nikki

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