Posts Tagged With: Kenai

Alaska, Day 8: Kenai, Soldotna, and Sterling

Friday, July 27, 2012: fishing frenzy

Grrrrrr!

We woke up and headed out to explore our campgrounds, since we hadn’t been able to look around much the previous night. Kurt headed down to Swanson River to do some fishing, while I walked along the beach to check out the view of the active volcanoes across Cook Inlet.

volcano coast

After breakfast, we drove back down the coast to Kenai, where we stumbled upon a crowd of fishermen at the mouth of Kenai River. During the salmon season, net fishing is allowed for Alaskan residents only. The edges of the river were crammed with people holding nets as salmon seemed to literally jump right into them. The beach was covered with fishheads while people cleaned their catch on top of bloody coolers (I don’t want to imagine what their ride home smelled like). It was a real family event, with a bouncy tent set up near the end of the beach and kids running around dumping fish guts at their dads’ request. In the water, sea lions hunted the leaping fish, joining in on the big feast.

fishermen and families

this sight was typical

After watching for an hour or so, we walked around Kenai and checked out some souvenir shops, an art gallery, and split a reindeer hot dog. We had an RV site reserved for the night, but when we arrived we saw that it was along a busy road with no greenery nearby and no campfires allowed. Since it was prepaid, we decided to take advantage of the showers and water/electric hookups to load up the RV, then we left in search of a more scenic place to spend the night. And boy, did we find it. After a teeth-jolting ride on a bumpy, 13-mile-long backroad, we came to Dolly Varden Lake in Kenai National Wilderness Refuge. Our site was in a wooded area right next to the lake, with a gorgeous view. As our friend Thomas later said of this picture “You two get out of the way of the Bob Ross painting.”

me and Kurt at last campsite

We sat in camping chairs facing the lake, enjoying our last Alaskan beers, fishing, and watching wildlife on the lake. A beaver swam along the opposite shore; its head was so big at first we thought it might be a bear. The sky got dark enough for the North Star to shine through. It was a perfect final night in Alaska.

the moon appears

Wildlife sightings: sea lions, salmon, beaver, ducks

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Alaska, Day 7: Exit Glacier

Thursday, July 26, 2012: glaciers and volcanoes

We said goodbye to our Seward campsite and otter friends and headed back towards Anchorage, stopping at Exit Glacier on the way. The glacier is derived from the Harding icefield in the Kenai Mountains.  We went on a hike on the trail that takes you close to the glacier itself. As we passed through the forested parts of the trail, the bugs were pretty terrible. It stood out because for the most part, mosquitos weren’t nearly as bad as I had predicted before the trip (everything we read ahead warned us to prepare for horrible bugs, even recommending headnets).  Besides the trip to Exit, the mosquitos in Alaska were not even as close to what I am used to dealing with while camping in Wisconsin.

Kurt in front of Exit Glacier

The closer we got to the glacier, however, the more the bugs thinned out. The air grew crisper and cooler to the skin, like walking into a large freezer. It was incredibly refreshing and felt amazing after the uphill hike.  We could see the glacial rivers and waterfalls up close, as well as the crystal blue color of the icy crevices.

glacier blue

After Exit Glacier, it was a straight shot to Anchorage, where we said goodbye to Bob and Amy who had a late-night flight home. They were excellent RV-roommates and I highly recommend them for your traveling companion needs.

me, Kurt, Bob, and Amy in front of Exit Glacier

On our own, Kurt and I headed back down the Kenai peninsula, this time heading to the other coast and the Kenai/Soldotna area. We had not reserved an RV park site ahead of time so we set out to explore and find a good spot to camp out for the night. I saw some pretty awesome-looking taxidermy shops along the road, which we sadly never got to check out on our crazy schedule.

After consulting our camping book, we decided to drive further north from Kenai and try Discovery Campground in Captain Cook State Recreation Area, along the Cook Inlet shore. It was a nice, secluded woodsy spot, exactly what we had in mind after the beautiful-but-RV-packed Seward site. We arrived later in the evening, and the skies were starting to darken as it was getting later in the summer, but beyond the trees lining our campsite there was a scenic view of active volcanoes along the inlet coast.

our site at Discovery Campground

We made an easy dinner of hot dogs on sticks over the campfire, and Kurt entertained himself by whittling a ‘bear-killing stick.’ We hardly saw any neighbors, except for a truck full of twenty-somethings who drove past shouting “The British are coming!” You never know what kids these days are going to be into.

Kurt’s ‘bear-killing stick’

you get used to this kind of sign, but it helps to have a bear-killing stick

Cool geographic sightings: glacier, volcanoes, temperate rainforest

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