Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day and it's time to remember all veterans who have served and protected our country so well. Personally, it was nice for Jane and I to thank a young couple who traveled all the way down from Eileson Air Force Base (near Fairbanks) to spend their weekend with us on the Kenai.  Thanks again, Bryce.

I'm sure the followers of this blog are waiting for a fishing report. Well, it's definitely underway.  I wish I could say, "my client caught this..." but all the information I have right now is second hand. It all came from trusted sources, so, here we go. The saltwater fishing has been good for all species, a little better for halibut than salmon.  The Anchor River king run has been improving every day and the strength of the run is ahead of last year.  The Kasilof River is fishing well for as many restrictions that are in place (several guides I know have been getting at least 2 kings a day).  And for me, the best news is the Kenai River king counts are the highest they've been in 5 years. My fingers are crossed that the trend continues to go up.  If so, I like our chances of actually fishing in June.
Skilak Lake Overlook
My time this past week has been consumed mostly by maintenance on the cabins. I like to be preventative rather than having things breakdown during the peak of our season.  When I wasn't doing cabin stuff I did spend a lot of time with friends.   Jane and I did get out to enjoy a hike with El Capitan Todd on Saturday. Other than a little rain on our way back, (and that was kind of refreshing considering how dry we've been) it was good to be out recreating Alaska.
Todd decided we were going to hike Skilak Lookout trail just off of the Sterling Highway.  It's a moderate four mile roundtrip hike. The elevation change is around 800 feet.
This trail was more remote than the trail we hiked earlier in the month. The first twenty minutes we encountered many raised platforms which conveniently kept our shoes dry. After that, the trail became more narrow and hardpacked.
This view was the highlight of the hike for me. This is where the Kenai River dumps into Skilak Lake. It is known as "The Canyon" and it's the least accessible part of the river.
Our timing on this hike was good for viewing wild roses. They were in full bloom.
Hard to find an easy segue way for the next topic of this post, but all I can say is fire bad, morels good.  The wildfire that happened last year between the Kenai River and Skilak Lake has created some of the best, most accessible morel mushroom picking in years.  It's been a popular place for locals to be this spring. And from what I gather, it should be really good for at least another year.
My neighbors' Rusty (pictured above) and Charlie have been the go to experts for finding these tasty fungi.  If you've never had morel mushrooms sauteed in butter and garlic, you've missed out on an incredible treat. Many of the easy spots have been picked clean, but if you're serious about going, drop me an email and I'll let you know where to go (I don't want everyone in the world to know all the secrets). 

A final comment to close out this post. We've been busy with the cabins and spending time with many friends.  Debbie Dreyer is here for three weeks.  Eric and Holly Taylor just arrived for the summer. My son Mac and his girlfriend Rachel came down from Anchorage for the weekend. And I can't overlook my old buddy Todd coming down to hang out and hike.  If that isn't enough socializing, whenever there's been an NHL playoff game we've been having neighborhood barbecues. Thanks goodness for nearly 19 hours of daylight!

See you next week.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Resurrection Pass Trail

Recently, Todd Laflamme, Jane and I spent a fantastic afternoon exploring a nearby hiking trail. On this May day it was 70 plus degrees out, it wasn't raining, the bugs hadn't emerged from their winter hibernation, and the river was closed to king salmon fishing (until July 1st).  Everything screamed, "let's go on a hike!"  And hike we did.

Todd is the El Capitan of our hiking unit and he said he'd like to hike a trail he's never been on; the Resurrection Pass Trail. This trail is located in the Chugach National Forest and it stretches from the town of Hope on the north side to Cooper Landing on the south side.  In all, it covers just over 38 miles.  Because this is much more than a day hike, the National Forest Service has constructed 8 cabins along the way.  In addition, there are 19 camping sites.  We weren't ambitious enough to stay over night on this day, but, who knows, maybe the next time we will.

The south side trailhead is closest to our cabins and is a 45 minute drive away (mile 53 of the Sterling Highway). We parked the car, grabbed our packs, and began our hike. We were only a few minutes from the trailhead and this was the first site that caused us to pause. A crystal clear, babbling brook that begged, "please take my photo!"

Overall, this trail was in great shape and well maintained.  I can't say that about all the trails I've hiked in Alaska. Many are glorified moose and sheep trails that are a bit rough.

Half way through our hike Kenai Lake came into view.  Where the two points come together is Snug Harbor, and just below that is the Sterling Highway bridge.  This is where the mighty Kenai River begins it's journey to the ocean.

The pie'ce de re'sistance, the cre'me de la cre'me of the hike was this, Juneau Falls.  We could hear the cascading water as we hiked and thought the trail would lead us right to it. It didn't. If it weren't for El Capitan Todd deciding to veer 50 yards off the main trail, we would have missed this spectacular site.  Nice job, Todd.

For the day, we hiked for 4 hours and covered nearly 10 miles round trip. The elevation change was just over a thousand feet with plenty of switchbacks.  It took a little effort for the "over 50 crowd", which was all of us, but in the hiking world, this would be considered an "easy" hike.  Oh my, I may not be aging as gracefully as I thought....

I highly recommend this hike to anyone who wants to get out and see Alaska beyond the road system. If anything, this hike reminded me why I choose to live here.  Resurrection Pass Trail is a great representation of all things Alaska.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Friday, May 20, 2016

River Salvage

Slim pickings.

Not only was I late to the party, the water levels on the river were higher than normal.  Salvaging was difficult at best.

My buddy Todd Laflamme joined me this year.  I told him this was going to be more of a float than a true salvage run and he should expect exercise, wildlife, and a peaceful, scenic river.  Any found gear would be a bonus.

Surprisingly, there were a few treasures to be had. Above is a skeg guard that Todd found. Definitely the most prized possession of the entire float. Not sure of the brand, but it obviously didn't do what it was designed protect the skeg (which is the very bottom of the motor just under the prop) from shearing off on a rock. I wonder if it can be returned for a refund?


The final take included miscellaneous lures, needle nose pliers, bungee cord, a knife, and the skeg guard. 

Bringing it on home!   Here's Todd rounding the bend into Beaver Creek.

Although I was disappointed with the salvaging, the beauty of the float more than made up for it (and the exercise was great).  Next year, ahhhhh, next year.......

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Of Moose and Men

My apologies to John Steinbeck for the bad pun, but the moose are everywhere. I suppose the mild winter has a lot to do with their abundance  First of all, low snow made for easier access to browse so starvation was at a minimum. Secondly, low snow led to fewer highway fatalities.  In fact, the road kill numbers are about half of the historical average.

The past couple of weeks there's been one moose that likes to take an afternoon siesta in our front yard.  I can run a leaf blower, a chain saw, whatever, and it doesn't bother this girl.  But, when it comes time to eat, it's time to eat, and she moves on her merry way.

At the hooves of this moose is why we get so many spring moose at Beaver Creek. With the right combination of sun, water, and glacier muck, the first green shoots of grass emerge here.

You can expect more moose photos coming in the next few weeks. Spring is calving time and there's nothing cuter than a new born calf.

Oh, by the way, I did have a chance to float the river.  I will post about it later this week.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

An Alaskan Parable

A businessman was standing along the Kenai River at Cunningham Park when he noticed a fisherman carrying a salmon.  He complimented the man on the quality of the fish and asked him how long it took to catch it.

"Not long," the fisherman replied with a smile.  "Only a little while."

When the businessman asked him why he didn't stay out longer to catch more fish, the fisherman said he caught enough to take care of his family for the next few days.

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?" the businessman wanted to know.

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a nap in the afternoon and on the weekends drive to Homer where I play piano and sing with my friends.  I have a full and busy life."

The businessman was dismissive.  He offered to help him get started in the fishing business.  Step one would be to get a commercial fishing permit.  The man could then buy a boat and, ultimately a fleet.  He could sell directly to the processor, then raise enough capital to open up his own cannery.

As a tycoon, he would want to move to Anchorage, where he would preside over his fish empire from a glass tower.  Of course, this wouldn't happen overnight.  It would take 15 to 20 years of hard work.

"But the sacrifices would be worth it," the businessman assured him.  "The rewards will be beyond your wildest dreams."  Afterall, once the fisherman issued an IPO for his enterprise, he'd be rich.

"Then what?" wondered the fisherman.

"You'd be able to retire and live the good life.  You can move to Kenai where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a nap in the afternoon, go to Homer to play the piano and sing with your friends."

Suddenly the businessman's cell phone rings.  "Gotta run," he told the fisherman.  "But remember the lessons I just told you--they could change your life."

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service