So in all the moving around the country we have done, I have been very blessed to have some formed some amazing friendships. One of these friends is Ashley, whom I met while working in Virginia. Ashley has moved around as much as we have, and just recently relocated to Osh Kosh, WI! It has been somewhere between 3 and 4 years since we saw each other last. Well, Ashley had intended to come visit me in Portland this summer, but instead came to see me in Alaska when our life plans suddenly changed! Yahoo! I’m not sure which of us was more excited (spoiler alert, it was me)! She arrived just after my birthday, and we celebrated all weekend! Another friend of ours from Virginia wasn’t able to make this trip, and we were very bummed about it. We took matters in to our own hands, and brought her along everywhere with us.
We had only a very short weekend to fit in as much as humanly possible, and that we did! Friday night we took a bike ride along the Coastal Trail, and then…then Saturday the magic happened! We joined some fabulous ladies, the Alaskan Wild Women Hiking and Backpacking Group, on a hike to Reed Lakes in the Talkeetna Mountain Range. I also had some friends on the same hike, so we spent some time with both groups and had an amazing time.
This hike was magical. I seriously have no better word to describe it! It was reminiscent of Lord Of The Rings, and was the most incredible landscape I have ever seen. I will be hard-pressed to find a hike I enjoy more than this one! Ashley was a trooper, and we ventured out on this 10 mile hike not knowing if either of us was in the necessary shape to complete this hike; it turns out we were! I can’t even pick my favorite part, as the entire hike was magnificent. So many colors of green, so many rocks, incredible mountains, an insane boulder field, waterfalls, and two incredible teal lakes. Soooo amazing!
I had just received a new camera for my birthday so I didn’t have to bring my big heavy camera along on hiking trips like this one, a Sony A6000. It is such and amazing, lightweight, mirrorless camera. I barely had time to turn it on before this trip, as I received it the night prior and had to charge the battery. I didn’t have time to learn much about it, and didn’t have the settings quite right on this trip. The pictures still were able to capture some of the magic this hike had to offer, however; enjoy! And yes, I did edit these; however, the colors really were this vibrant!
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I only wanted to do one thing for my birthday-backpack in somewhere beautiful and camp in the backcountry for the first time ever! I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect place. After much back and forth, deciding the hike I had picked was a little overzealous, bad weather, running late finishing up some last minute things, and a last minute run to the store, we finally headed out around 6 pm. Way later than we had hoped! And then, of course, bad traffic. Are we back in Portland? For those unfamiliar with the area, the Seward Highway is only 2 lanes, and any incident will turn it quickly into a parking lot. After sitting at a standstill for approximately 2 hours, we were again on our way.
At this point, still being an hour or so away, we were really second guessing our plan. We were so late, and still had to hike in, set up camp, and eat dinner. Oh, and hopefully not get eaten by a bear! Obviously, we didn’t. It was a real threat, however; black bears specifically in Alaska have been abnormally aggressive this year, causing multiple deaths by mauling. It is terrifying, but to quote “my” generation, you only live once. We decided to just go for it! Never have I been more thankful to be in the land of the midnight sun!
We arrived at the trailhead for Carter and Crescent Lakes around 9 P.M. and began our journey. We checked the registration book (they are at many trailheads, and many people write information about what wildlife they saw during their hike), and saw that there were two moose spotted that day, and 4 bears the day prior. Oy Vey. We had our bear protection at the ready! We hiked up to Carter Lake and considered staying there due to the time, but I was pretty persistent that I wanted to camp at Crescent Lake, and Daniel obliged. The hike to Crescent Lake was approximately 3.5 miles, so thankfully not too far. We set up camp around 10 P.M., cooked our Mountain House Beef Stroganoff, and slept…all in complete daylight! A little sidenote about the stroganoff…when you are that hungry and don’t really pay attention when preparing it, you put double the water in and have stroganoff soup! It was still delicious, and the hot “soup” was nice to warm us up.
We were seemingly alone in this magnificent place, and I could not have asked for more. We awoke in the morning to an amazing peacefulness, looking out over Crescent Lake, and let Bruzer run free. We made a nice breakfast scramble (Mountain House again, yum!), and took our time packing up camp. Daniel did some fishing while I enjoyed being in the middle of nowhere, my happy place.
Hiking out, we ran into one couple coming up, who asked if that was our truck in the parking lot. Our nerves were on high alert, but quickly calmed when we were told that ours was the only other vehicle there. We truly had had the place to ourselves! It was the best birthday ever, especially having my two favorite boys to share it with <3
#alaska #SharingAlaska #adventureawaits #gypsysoul #krystleclearphotos #ilovemybackyard #ilivehere #thecaricaburucaravan #thegypsylife #wanderlusters #caricaburuthenomad #nomadlife #vanlife #ourwanderlusterways #fifthwheelfreedom #lifeisbetterinacamper #happycampers #homelessvanlife #homeiswhereyouparkit #notallwhowanderarelost #mountainhouse #beefstroganoff #jetboil #crescentlake #carterlake #cooperlanding #sharingalaska #myhappyplace #happybirthdaytome
This glacier is amazingly beautiful, and such a reward for such a short hike! The hike there I believe was just short of 1 mile, and easy enough that an elderly gentleman with a cane was among our company. Byron Glacier is located near Portage, AK, just a short drive from Anchorage. The blue of the glacier is magnificent, and the surrounding smooth rocks add an additional charm. There are many glaciers nearby, but this happens to be one the most accesible. If you ever find yourself driving along the Alaska Scenic Byway between Anchorage and Seward and don’t have enough time to stop and see all the glaciers, this is a great quick stop.
Daniel’s Grandfather’s backback continues to deliver! It is always carrying precious cargo, consistently going back and forth between fishing gear and camera equipment <3
Wow. I seriously have no words for this amazing place! We took a boat tour through the Kenai Fjords National Park, and both feel that it was money well spent. We saw the most incredible scenery, and so much wildlife! They even served us a tasty lunch, and concluded the tour with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies that smelled and tasted delicious!
We started the day waiting dockside in Seward to board our boat, the Tanaina (second from the left in the picture of the boats). This day was one of only a handful of days that traded in the overcast skies for the beautiful sun. On average, Seward only sees the sun on 133 days of the year; we were lucky to happen upon one of them! We were accompanied on board and quickly found seats on the top level of the boat, outside. The sky gave us an incredible show with the beautiful cloud formations all day; couple that with the amazing plush, green backdrops, glaciers, and an abundance of sea life, and life couldn’t be much better. While there are many glaciers in this area, nearly 40 of them actually, we checked out 2 specific glaciers close to our location. The first was the smaller of the two, Bear Glacier, followed by the magnificent Aialik Glacier. The Aialik Glacier is approximately 1 mile across as we see it, just to give a little perspective. Near the Ailik Glacier, there are many chunks of ice in the water from ice calving, or ice falling from the glacier. What a spectacular sight! And the ice is blue! This is due to the the fact that the ice is so dense, it absorbs every other color from the spectrum except for blue. So crazy. So beautiful. The sounds from the ice calving is also something special; add in the chill in the air and the crisp smell, and you really get all your senses going!
Our fun didn’t stop there, oh no! We were lucky enough to see several fin whales, puffins (did you know they aren’t big like penguins?! I didn’t!), bald eagles, multiple humpback whales-including a mama and calf, one continually hitting the water with it’s tale (forgive the blurry picture!), and many that were showing us their “blow,” harbor seals, sea lions, countless other birds…it was so incredible. If you are ever in the area of the Kenai Peninsula and only have time to do one thing, make it this.
The best part of this day? Meclizine, more commonly known as Dramamine Non Drowsy. Because of this miracle tablet, I was able to completely enjoy this day. This day will forever be one of my most favorite days. Ever. And I was able to spend it with My Love, making it even better <3
From the website, www.alaskawildlife.org, is this description, “The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, research, education and quality animal care. AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round and provides spacious enclosures and quality animal care. Most the animals that arrive the Center become permanent residents and will always have a home here. The Center maintains over 200 acres of large spacious habitats for animals to feel at home and display their natural “wild” behavior. Visitors may see brown bears cooling off in the water, a bull moose strutting, wood bison roaming on pastures and more.”
I don’t know all the stories of all the animals that are located at this facility, but I do know that one of the bears there was abandoned by it’s mama because it couldn’t escape a dumpster. I know that the bald eagle was found with a gunshot wound, and had to have it’s left wing amputated. If I remember correctly, one of the bears was found so full of porcupine quills that it was unable to eat. One of the porcupines has three legs. This place saves these animals, and gives them a place where they are cared for, and never miss a meal.
Here is another little snippet from their website, regarding their Wood Bison Reintroduction Project, “After more than 100 years of extinction in Alaska, wood bison have found their way back to the state of Alaska. The AWCC herd arrived in November 2003 from the Yukon Territory in Canada and is part of a wood bison reintroduction program designed to reintroduce the species to Alaska. AWCC is home to the only wood bison herd in the United States. In spring 2015, the first wood bison were reintroduced back into Alaska for the first time in over 100 years. The first wood bison calves born in the state of Alaska in over 100 years were born at AWCC in 2005, and since then, dozens more calves have been born at the Center.” How amazing, right?
After a morning of fishing, we met some friends (from back home, yay!) here and wandered through the park. It is pretty fantastic to walk through; where else would you get to see bears, moose, musk ox, and reindeer all in the same day? And so close?! If you happen to be near Anchorage, definitely make your way the short distance to Portage; you will not regret it. I didn’t get great photographs of all the animals, but here are some of my favorites! Enjoy!
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