Devan has not gotten out to see much of Alaska since he moved there. He absolutely loved our trip across the bay and wanted to try out backpacking. We were happy to oblige, but I wanted a test run to see how my knee (hurt way back in a Grenada hike) would hold up. We chose to backpack the Russian River Trail.
We chose this trail because it is elevation change that kills me and this trail is relatively flat, maybe 580 feet over 9 miles. The Russian River Trail is really nice with a few small bridges to help cross the creeks.
This back country picture shows the U-shape of the glacial valley. The trail here is on a ridge above the tree tops below. The views were amazing and impossible to capture on camera.
About 3 miles in, things were still going well, but my knee was starting to talk to me. The views and overgrown trail were distracting me. There were so many flowers and bumble bees! Just a flurry of activity.
The fireweed was nearly in full bloom and brightened the valley. The small waterfall created one of the creeks we crossed. It fed into the lower lake.
A welcome landmark along the Russian River Trail, we got our first peek of the lower lake. There were no mile markers, so this was our first point of reference. It meant, we were going the right way but still had quite a ways to go.
Just when you think it doesn’t get any prettier, it does. My feet are getting sore and now my knee is crying, but the view encourages me to keep going.
When we got to the waterfall stream, the water smelled and looked so fresh. It was tempting to scoop it up and drink. Although I am not quite a germophobe, I was too nervous to try it unfiltered. With only a couple miles to go to the first campsite, I was getting really tired and ready to be there.
We finally made it, stopping at the first campsite we came across, about 7 miles into a 22 mile trail. We never intended to do all 22 and 7 was definitely enough for me. Dave set up the tent while I tried to start a fire. Where is little Drew Barrymore when you need her? We spent one brief night before we packed up and headed back on the trail.
The willow ptarmigan is the Alaska state bird. This is the first time I’ve ever seen one. The females were out with their chicks. The males are prettier, of course, but I believe they both turn white in the winter. This female walked right up to Dave and seemed a little confused, but not really scared of us. She sounded almost chicken like making a kind of clucking sound.
Taking a much needed break after meeting back up with the main trail, about 5 miles down and 2 to go. It felt amazing to take the pack off for a bit, but not too long or it will be hard to get it back on and get moving again.
Finally done with the trails, 14 miles in two days, we only had a half mile on the road to get to Devan’s truck. I couldn’t wait to get my pack and boots off! But… success! Yay! ~
After a couple days to recuperate from the backpacking trip, Dave and I walked from Devan’s apartment to the Homer Spit to get lunch on the double decker bus with excellent halibut fish and chips. We walked 5.4 miles out and turned around and walked 5.4 miles back, all on the day before our backpacking trip with Devan. What were we thinking?
The backpacking trail to Crescent Lake was a slow incline for 6.5 miles. It felt a little easier than the Russian River Trail, but maybe I am getting the hang of backpacking. Or maybe it was because Devan was carrying my pack and I only had a daypack on? My feet started out a little tender but didn’t get any worse.
Devan could only take a few days off, but it was great spending time with him. He was testing out his knees, too, which have not been the same since he was in the Marines. He is now considering joining the Coast Guard and wanted to test his physical condition. We loaded him up!
The Crescent Lake Trail followed the creek at the bottom of a glacial valley. Glaciers are cool to see, but the valley is more more beautiful post-glacier. Devan declared the view (at the top of the page) to be post card worthy. The trail headed towards the mountains, but thankfully we never have to climb them. Dave needs Steve from Slow Flight for that!
As beautiful as this panoramic photo is that Dave took, the reality was much better. Devan had to stop to take in the breathtaking view.
The backpacking trail to Crescent Lake followed the fast moving Crescent Creek. The sound of water grew and faded as we meandered closer and further along the creekside.
About halfway to the campground, we crossed over Crescent Creek. What a great bridge for a back country trail! Alaska is truly kind to the backpackers.
One of the prettiest campgrounds we’ve seen is right next to Crescent Lake. The bugs were thick, though, so we lit a campfire right away and sprayed ourselves and the tents. The bugs didn’t spoil our time, but we kept the fire and a mosquito stick burning until it was time for bed. Devan went fishing at the creek for arctic grayling, a very small fresh water fish. He released all but one and tried cooking it over the fire on a stick like a marshmallow. He said it didn’t have enough meat on it to decide if it was good or not.
Crescent Lake was like a mirror reflecting the beautiful surroundings. Simply amazing! I recommend this trail to anyone wanting to backpack in Alaska!
Remember what I said about an outhouse? It is appreciated only while camping. How about an outdoor toilet? Our campsite had one similar to this one. This is a borrowed photo as I didn’t take a picture of ours. A few things… 1) Yay for a toilet, 2) Open to the elements, and 3) Open to everything and everyone! It was a very weird feeling to be so exposed while doing your business. Normally, you would at least go behind a tree. This was out in the wide open, though off from the campsite a ways following a trail. I’ll just say that I am very glad we were the only campers in the area. However, I have never had a better view while sitting on the can.
We were expecting rain, so we spent one quick night before hitting the trail back again. The ferns were large and thick towards the beginning of the Crescent Lake backpacking trail. I hadn’t noticed them on the way out. Devan thought the ferns made it look prehistoric. I remember thinking that when we saw the fern trees in Puerto Rico.
Still smiling after about 12 miles with still 1 1/2 miles to go. Perhaps because I used a knee brace, orthotic insoles, blister pads, and a walking stick. Not to mention that Devan and Dave were carrying almost all the weight in their packs. Another success! We were all bushed, though, and still had to drive the rest of the way to Anchorage. The trip is coming to a close and we need to prepare for India.