Sunday, September 8, 2013

trail reports and melting glaciers

I just pedaled through it. No problem!

Has it already been two weeks since the weekend cabin trip with the girls? Indeed, it has. Let me tell you about it.

Word on the news and on social media was that the water at Eklutna Lake was high. Maybe record-breaking high. After a warmer-than-recent-years summer and a week or so of rain, the lake that takes its name from the glacier that feeds it and which provides tap water for much of Anchorage was inundated. I saw photos of the Lakeside Trail covered in water. But I had weekend plans with my friends and I'd waited all year - more than a year - for the trip. A little high water wouldn't stop us. Besides, we could always retreat to the steeper, wider gravel trail.

I had my new rain pants and my jacket ready. I had waterproof socks and shoe covers. Dry bags and dry gear for the two nights at the cabin. I was ready for August to keep the water coming. But just before Corinne picked me up I looked out the window and pointed out a patch of blue to Jon. "There's a suckerhole." We laughed. Then the sky continued to clear, the sun broke through. I finished packing my bags and headed out.

When we arrived at the trailhead, our friends were already warm. Some were wearing long-sleeve tops and regretting their packing decisions. I had resisted the urge to bring shorts, donning knickers instead. And a long-sleeve wool top. It could get cold at any time!

This one is a little deep - we'll see it on the return trip.
Along the trail were remnants of last fall's hurricane-force storm (the one nobody in the Lower-48 heard about because we don't have millions of people living here). My friends were out there during part of the storm. A bench that once faced the lake was in the lake. Parts of the trail had sloughed into the water. We stopped to inspect a long puddle. Saw the pebble-covered bottom and decided to ride through it. It was one of several. Some, we detoured around, taking the high trail. Some, we had no alternative but to keep pedaling.

Cabin, glacier, river, waterfall (out of frame). I do love this place.
The cabin was as I remembered. The big windows giving us a view of the river, glacier, peaks, Serenity Falls. I placed my helmet on my favorite bunk in the back corner and went outside to haul firewood and water up to the cabin. The last time I was at the Serenity Cabin (two years ago) I'd used my BOB trailer. I remember how much my shoulder hurt after riding to the cabin and especially after helping refill the water jugs and pulling them back to the cabin in my BOB. I nearly cried for the pain in my shoulder. I didn't sleep well. I spent lots of time sitting on my bunk writing. This year was different. I'm stronger, healed (though careful), and my mind is in a different place.
Bikes lined up under the eaves.
Wine was opened. More friends arrived. The cabin became loud as dinner was prepared and 11 women spoke at once. I went back and forth between the deck and the common area, a little overwhelmed with being surrounded by the group. The last few times I've gone to the cabin a few of us have gone out a day early. A group of five or six relaxing in relative quiet. The energy was a little much. Even though I grew up in a large family, we didn't become boisterous until we were adults and Dad's voice had softened. I often sought quiet places like the wagon paths, pastures and woods near our house. I still become lost in large groups, opting for intimate conversations, eavesdropping or hiding away - in this case, either on the deck or under the fog of a little too much wine, I suppose.

Watched these bears from the deck just after we had breakfast.
Saturday hike/stroll. Testing the limits of my waterproof socks.
Jo-Ann and Corinne and Serenity Falls. Out for an evening stroll.
Evening light, down-valley.
After two nights at the cabin, which seemed like not enough time to me, we gathered our gear, tidied the cabin and headed out. The day was calm and the sky cloudless. The sounds of our voices and our bikes filled the air as we pedaled back to the trailhead. But it was Sunday, so soon we heard four-wheelers approaching. In twos and threes they drove down the trail, slowing when they saw us. We did the same.

We may have pushed some logs out of the way, but it was still a bit deep to ride!
We took turns riding through the deep, long puddles. We cleared floating logs from one path so we could travel through unobstructed. We basked in unexpected sunlight that made wet feet into no big deal and made a slow journey together, back to the trailhead.

On a day like this, no hurry.


Gus said...

Man, that was a really nice account and pictures. Once again, I'm envious of your adventures. Thanks!

gearlybird said...

Wow! I am so jealous! What a place...and to get to spend your time there with a bunch of girlfriends, well, I'll say it again - wow! I am so jealous!
Also, great write up. Looking forward to the next.