It really is such a difference from Florida, isn't it? Crazy to think that we're smack-dab in the middle of summer, and yet I'm having snowball fights. Jealous? I think yes.
Thought this might make a good picture. It was an amazing view. One of those, "Had to be there" spots.
So, about two weeks ago, Sam and I decided to hike the Fuller Lakes Trail. As we were constantly reminded, this trail was notorious for getting people lost - especially those people of the SCA kind. We heard stories of last year's SCA crew...who sounded over the radio after hiking for 12 hours with quivering voices explaining that they were lost. I kid you not - I am not sensationalizing here. The interns of last year did the hike, got lost, radioed in sounding fearful - and then finally returned that night. I heard just recently that if we indeed couldn't find ourselves the way back - the most the refuge could do would be for our law enforcement officers to turn on their lights and drive back and forth along the Sterling Highway - which is adjacent to the Kenai Mountain range. That way, those that were lost would assumedly see the lights and hear the sound and just make their way back down the mountain towards the highway. So apparently, no search planes involved.
I took this picture when I was quite literally hugging a tree. I held on to it for dear life while I took this picture. Gives you a little idea of the steepness of the trek. I don't think I ever quite felt like I did at this moment in my life, where I felt forever grateful of trees, while simultaneously feeling a great hatred of them (for giving me such a hard bout of bushwhacking).
At the top of mountain #1. The one behind me and subsequent ones behind it were what we would have had to cross to connect to Skyline. Doesn't look so bad in the picture, though, does it? Well, pictures are deceiving.
So, the day before we hiked Fuller, Sam and I decided to go to Homer for the day out on a whim. We were able to get a hold of Dan, so we met up with him and had a good dinner at Fat Olive's and had a nice little nature walk. That day we did the total tourist thing, where we looked in a lot of the shops, compulsively bought things we really didn't need, and took stupid pictures. We went back to Buttwhacker's (remember the sign?) and saw it in business. That's where they cut up and de-internal organ halibut. I got some close ups of the whole process for all of you to enjoy (and possibly salivate over?).From the Homer Spit, a picture of the dock. Beyond that is the Kenai mountain range and Kachemak Bay. A yummy Halibut. I didn't ask how big it was, so sorry folks, can't tell ya how much it weighed. Nice view in all respects, I should think. This is where they were de-goring the fish. Look! A moose! A very strange looking one...Nonetheless, it sure has some big antlers.The Salty Dog Saloon. Place of lollipops, rainbows, and hopes and dreams. Not. But a popular place for those of the alcohol-consuming kind.
As per usual, we saw a ton of moose on the way up and down from Homer...and got to have a real treat when we saw a mother moose and her twins cross the road. Unfortunately, it was getting dark at this point (dark in Alaska? Well...kind of...) so I didn't get a good picture.
As I've mentioned, we've done a lot of hiking. The next string of photos are from when Sam and I went on the Resurrection Pass Trail of the Chugach National Forest (which we did last week). It was an 8 mi hike round trip, that took us to Juneau Falls - an absolutely out-of-this-world sight that had me wowing every 5 seconds for a good 10 minutes. That day we ended up hiking a little over 12 miles, though...because we had to do a little of a detour....but that's besides the point.
Annnd, we've still been going fishin'. We haven't been in about two weeks, because the salmon run has been slowing down. It's supposed to pick up in a week or two when the second run starts...so we're gonna wait a little while until we go again. The second run is not only Sockeyes, but Coho and Pink salmon as well - so the numbers are higher, and thus a better chance for me to reel in the big 'un. Hopefully soon, we'll also go halibut fishing. Unless you know someone (and I do, but they're not feeling overly generous) to take you out, you most likely have to take a fishing charter to catch halibut - because they're out in the sea. These charters cost a pretty penny - some of them being over $200 for a day trip - but apparently, it's well worth the money because you are almost guaranteed 100 % success in catching 70 lbs of halibut...which ends up being worth way more than $2oo if you were to buy halibut in the store or at a restaurant.This is Wesley holding up the Sockeye he caught. He's in front of the Russian River Ferry sign - which is the place where we mainly go fishin'. I didn't get to try his salmon...but I did get to try another guy's that works there. Not just two hours before, the salmon that I was consuming and that was currently traveling down to my stomach was swimming up the Kenai River. THE freshest salmon I've ever eaten. And boy, did it really show it. Hands down, that's the best salmon I've ever had. Here's a little view of what is considered "combat fishing" on the Kenai River/Russian River confluence. Crazy busy. And people suffer hooks to the eye and whatever else that could potentially hurt. It's pretty hardcore. Me with my rod, getting hooked by Eve. We caught a lot of rockfish that day.
As I discussed in an earlier entry, we been having our campfire programs! Sam and I have already done three, and they've all proved successful. We've had very different audiences each time, so we had to adjust how we did our program just a little bit to accomodate the range of ages. Our second time we had over 45 people come - and the majority being children aged 10 and below - so it was quite a handful - but we did it alright. The way our presentation is organized is thus: we teach them the 5 species of salmon as I have taught all of you by the "Edward Salmon Fingers" tool, we have two activities where volunteers are needed (and in which they receive swedish fish as a prize - get it? Swedish fish are like little miniature salmon - haha, we're so clever) then we have a bit of the factual, in which we talk about the life cycle, and finally, we end with sharing fishing stories, handing out salmon recipes and salmon jerky to taste. We end on a final note - or ditty- that we sing for the entire audience. (Dad, you would be proud.) Sam and I both don our SCA hats and with salmon puppet in hand, I belt out our "Salmon rap" as it is so-called. For all of you who miss this incredible event, here are the lyrics (below) so you can appreciate (and represent! Yee-aahh.).
I am a salmon just look and see
if you live in Alaska, you see a lot of me
There's five species, if you look
the first is the King, also known as Chinook
next is the Sockeye, which is red you know -
did you know that Silver is also called Coho?
Pink, Humpies, the rivers they clog
don't forget chum, 'cuz they're my dogs
they're born in the river 'cuz they like the water n' motion
and when they grow up - they go live in the ocean
Salmon start as eggs in gravel beds
in little nests, that we call Redds
then they're the alevin with the cute yolk sac,
and they use that sac for a yummy snack
then they're the fry, with parr marks on their sides
to help them hide
but before they become adults,
salmon must become smolts
yes before they go out to the ocean for vacation
salmon must go through smoltification
(Yeah that's smoltification!)
And when it's time for spawning, I go back the the river where I came from-
and this is what I do
I see a pretty female making a redd her nest
then I fertilize her eggs, 'cuz she likes me the best
then you know what people - that is, when I die
but it's not sad, so baby don't you cry
'cuz my body has made the steam o' so healthy,
the nutrients are rich - and my offspring are wealthy!
You like? When you read it, sing it as if it were a rap - to the tune of "We will Rock You." We actually have the audience do the beat for us as we lyricize, baby.Sam, holding up a map of the places on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge of where Sockeye salmon typically run. Behind me is a poster of a picture of the "egg stage" of the salmon life cycle. Oh, and that's us in our hott (with two t's!) uniforms.
That creature attached to my hand is Stan the salmon. He taught us everything we know. No, seriously.