Off-trail trekking home | Pack Food | Alaska Treks | Trekking Gear

Packrafting the Kenai Fjords
from Seward to Seldovia - September 2004

Journal - Page 5
Headed home

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9/21/04 - day 19

Headed home

Autumn has come, and we are leaving. We didn't set out until late afternoon, using our newfound food as an excuse to tarry longer. I spent much of that time baking. I made a loaf of bread in our salvaged pot, and biscuits. We had a few coals atop our loaf of bread, and some biscuits blackened from a hot time in the fire, and some underdone ones, and lost one into the fire. But it was all tasty anyway.

It was a little sad to leave our beach. There's so much more we could do there. I never thought I'd want to come back somewhere. I always want to go somewhere new. But I do want to come back here.

It's an awesome place, this wild coastline. We're spending the night tonight barely away from our camp, here on Gore Point beach. The meadow spit led us across to the Port Dick side, into the protected bay and away from the open ocean. Not that it will necessarily help us. Coming in on the ocean side of Gore Point beach, the wind was howling against us, making it difficult to even get to the shore. If the wind blows the wrong way tomorrow it could pin us to shore even here. Who knows what the weather will do, though?

On the edge of the meadowy spit here is a sea level stand of krumholz spruce, battered by the winds. Goat trails lace the forest and the meadow, and we saw several goats on the hillside as we paddled in.

We're headed home now, and I'm ready to be there. We have no map of where we're going, but the water route seems very straightforward, and Hig's done the overland route before. We're headed into familiar ground. We've chosen a harsh place to be at the start of Autumn, and I hope the weather lets us easily home again.

9/22/04 - day 20

Port Dick

Today we were lucky. The weather was calm, with only slight breezes for and against us. We left Gore Point beach with no problems and made the long crossing to the other side of Port Dick. Without a map, we don't know how long it was, but it looked like it might have been about four miles. The ocean was calm and smooth but for the long high swells, which obscured the horizon and occasionally swallowed whole islands or most of Hig as we bobbed up and down through them.

The sky was cloudy and clearing in the morning, with the occasional sun spot on the mountains or sun flash on our heads. Then we hit clouds and rainsqualls, intermittently drying out our raingear and soaking it, filling up the boats as it poured. We haven't been in such a calm ocean in a long while. The water was clear, and the beaches were free of waves and surf. We saw the occasional sea otter, but both swimming and rock-bound ocean life was much reduced.

We're camped on a little spit almost at the head of Port Dick, and will probably walk from here. We should be only a couple miles from the logging roads, which will take us all the way home to Seldovia. We had a bright hot fire on this wet cold beach, burning plastic buckets and broken buoys along with the driftwood to warm ourselves. It was a slow and ornery fire to get going, but great once it was. We ate hot grits cooked on it, and are sleeping on a pile of hot gravel stirred with its coals. The gravel was too hot, probably, since I think it has expanded the tumorous bubble in my thermarest. In keeping with our tradition, we're throwing caution to the winds on what may be our last night out, and sleeping under the stars, trusting the starry sky to hold off the rain. Tomorrow if all goes well we may be in a cabin, and after that, in town.

9/24/04 - day 21

The march home

Last night at Hig's grandmother's place, the distractions of civilization and its attendant showers and phones put writing out of my head entirely. But now in the comfort of a heated home, clean and out of my raingear, I'll try and put the finishing touches on our trip.

It was a cold wet bushwhack up the Port Dick valley. We started walking on slimy rocks covered with rotting salmon, and ended up bouncing between a low spruce forest and a soggy marshy meadow. It was a pretty place, and the going was reasonably easy, but it was further to the logging roads than Hig had remembered. Our hands were ice cold, our bodies were soggy, and we were ready to be home.

The clear cut appeared as a field of stumps and leftover logs, hidden in the tall grass. We slipped and stumbled our way through it, looking for the stripes of alder that marked the logging roads. It was our return to the work of civilization, and it was an ugly one. Following the old logging roads back across the peninsula was a depressing sort of journey. The alder had grown up around the trail, and we were walking in our own personal alder tunnel, getting further soaked by the small wet branches growing in from either side. It was monotonous and claustrophobic, and we walked quickly through it, trying to keep warm. Hig related a story of a hypothermic march down this road when he was much younger, and we felt our ice cold hands buzz as we pushed aside the alder.

As we traveled, the trail grew less brushy, and the weather grew less wet. Sooner than we expected, we hit Sue and Gordy's cabin on the Rocky River. It was only about 2:30, so rather than camp there as we had originally intended, we decided just to warm up and head for town.

The road was nice from there, but it was a long walk on a hard road into town. We were hoping to catch a ride, but traffic was minimal and the two cars we saw going our way didn't stop for us. We watched the sunset light the clouds and the water and then walked into dark. Two miles from town, at about 9:30, we caught a ride in, despite our sketchy clothing and my funny foam magic hat. We beat the lockup of Hig's grandmother's building by 20 minutes and settled into warm showers and a comfortable sleep, skinny, clean, and happy to be back again.


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Last modified: 10/11/2004