Here is a picture blog continuing our trip in Alaska because there is no better way to blog about Alaska than through pictures. Well, video may be better but we aren’t there yet. We had a fantastic time getting out and seeing the unspoiled Alaskan wilderness. In order to do this, you have to be willing to go where cars cannot take you. This time, that meant going by boat and stranding ourselves.
For a hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing experience, we took a boat across the Kachemak Bay, which is at the south end of the Cook Inlet. We booked kayaks and a water taxi through True North Kayak Adventures on the Homer Spit. It worked out really well.
After about a 45 minute ride, we unloaded our camping gear and the kayaks from the boat. It was a cool little aluminum hulled shallow-draft boat that pulled right up to the beach.
The boat left us on our own, not to return for three days. It’s a weird feeling to watch your only means of escape disappear into the horizon.
Here is a funny short video of the boat leaving us behind. The humor of watching the boat leave in fast-motion, does nothing to help you understand the lonely stranded feeling of being left behind.
At the Tutka Lake trailhead, there is a campsite overlooking the beach with a wooden platform to level out the ground. Here is where we set up camp and tried to organize our gear.
The platform was just big enough for both tents and a passageway between. At least we didn’t have any roots poking us in our backs all night long. I sprayed the platform with bug spray before we set up the tents and it seemed to help keep the bugs away.
This yurt is for public use by reservation at the Tutka Lake trailhead, just a short walk from our campsite. Some very nice people were in it when we arrived, but left the next morning. We prefer the freedom of our own tents. That way if you don’t like the spot or have noisy neighbors you can move. Also, if the weather is bad, you can opt out of going. However, if you reserved the yurt 6 months ahead of time (which you really have to), you just have to suck it up and go.
Most Alaskan campsites include bear boxes in which you place your food. You never ever keep food in your tent! This is Tutka Lake’s version of a bear box. Haha! Crude but effective. Alaska has black bears and grizzly bears, depending on where you go. On this side of Kachemak Bay, black bears are very common. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we did not see any.
Camping is about the only time you are grateful for an outhouse. This was a fairly nice one as far as outhouses go, no frills but does the job.
Too shallow to kayak, Dave and Devan pulled the kayaks during low tide up Tutka Lagoon to go salmon fishing. Kayaking was easy enough because it was near slack tide, but then we were sitting on the bottom and trying to scoot off. When we got out, the water was just ankle deep. We were glad for our rubber boots.
Low tide is the time to go salmon snag-fishing in Tutka Lagoon, when there is limited space for the salmon to swim around. With their path essentially cut off, they swam around in circles. It hardly seems sportsman-like to take them that way.
Devan is the best (living) fisherman I know and was catching salmon with ease while I caught a lot of seaweed. We didn’t limit out, but only by choice. I caught 6 or 7 during the two days I fished.
Dave and Devan caught more. In this video, Dave caught one too big for the pole! Devan is going to have enough salmon to last him through the winter!
Having our fill of fishing for the day and the tide coming in fast, we kayaked by the Tutka Lagoon hatchery. The hatchery is obviously doing great things for the salmon population. The tide carried us to the end of the lagoon where the fish were constantly jumping all around us.
The calm glassy waters allowed us to see all the fish swimming by. There were thousands. It is no wonder we were able to snag them so easily. This short video doesn’t do it justice.
It was a beautiful day. We were too warm in our light jackets. The water was calm and the bald eagles were chattering in the trees. One time Devan tossed a salmon head aside and an eagle swooped down, picked it up, and brought it to a tree branch to eat it. Incredible. The best way to describe this day: surreal.
After the tide maxed out, we kayaked back to camp to put the fish on ice in the cooler. We were tired but in a very good way. It was a very full day of activity. Just the way we like it.
We used the community BBQ pit to cook up four of the pink salmon we just caught. We shared with the people in the yurt, who brought side dishes and hors d’oeuvres, making for an awesome potluck meal. We brought some olive oil and Cajun seasoning for the fish, delicious!
Dave is either willing the boat to come back and get us, deep in meditation, or thinking about our upcoming adventures in India. Whatever his thoughts, he looked peaceful and happy. But then how could you not be in a place like this?
It was great to see healthy old forest undergrowth. These trees survived the bark beetle. They aren’t dead; all the green branches are higher up. Alaska lost most of its spruce and it’s being replaced by deciduous or leafy trees. Still beautiful, just different. This is what my grandpa’s yard looked like 30-40 years ago.
We hiked through the old growth forest on the trail to the waterfall. It was a gorgeous but tiring hike.
Hiking through wild berries, Devan is standing by blueberry bushes and raspberries add a touch of color in the foreground.
Wild blueberries were everywhere. It was just like I remembered Homer being when I was a little girl. Across the bay is today what Homer was so long ago.
There were more raspberries than I remembered in Homer, but less currants and cranberries.
The hike led us past Tutka Lake where waterlilies covered much of the surface. There was a small boat on the shore that we were tempted to take out if there were oars. But we resisted the urge and kept going.
At the waterfall, we took a much needed break from hiking. Unfortunately, the waterfall was hard to see and impossible to photograph. Oh well, it was a pretty hike through the wild berries, watermelon berries, ferns, and pines. Alaska is such a beautiful state! I’m glad we are getting out to see it.
Living off the land (or water) for another dinner, Dave cooked up more salmon. This time just for the three of us. No one else showed up to stay in the yurt, so we have the entire area all to ourselves. We just hope the boat shows up to take us back to Homer tomorrow. And if it doesn’t, well, this doesn’t suck.
Devan gets some help from a brave little mew gull while cleaning a last minute catch. We were expecting the boat any minute, but Devan kept on fishing to fill his time.