alaska2012

The lodge at Hatcher Pass. Spent an awesome two days here with friends right before I left Alaska last month. We drove up from Homer, a nearly 5 hour drive, because the forecast called for active Aurora Borealis that night. We didn’t get an Aurora show, but we did stay in a beautiful A-frame cabin with an incredible view. The snow wasn’t much, so there weren’t any skiers up there, which meant we had the entire place to ourselves. My friend and I got up early the next day and chatted for a while with the lodge owner, a man in his 80s who claimed the land back in the homesteading days and built the whole lodge himself. 

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So my wwoofing host is friends with the guy who delivers mail to the few year-round residents across the bay.  I’ve been trying to get across the bay to do some hiking in Kachemak Bay State Park, but water taxis cost $86, and that is so not in my budget right now. So Carey asked her friend Dave if we could go for a ride with him on his skiff as he delivered mail, and he kindly obliged.

Riding along with us were two researchers conducting a study on sea otters in the area. We dropped them off on a rock in the middle of the bay (!), where they set up their equipment and set up camp for two hours. It wasn’t even high tide yet! Crazy ass scientists.  We picked them up in a few hours, no harm done.  But it was quite an operation navigating those rocks and getting all of their equipment on and off board.

The homes on the other side of Kachemak Bay are off-grid, and mostly just used in the summer as vacation homes. There are also a number of resort cabins and yurts, but everything is abandoned this time of year, except for a few cabins that have year-round residents.  So we got to enjoy a ride through the many coves and inlets across the bay, delivering a couple of packages, and eventually ending up at the home of and elderly couple, where the mail is sorted.

Here, we disembarked and spent a really lovely hour or so having coffee and tea and sticky buns with Sandy and Jimmy in their relatively newly built and incredibly gorgeous cabin. Out their front window they have a view across the bay to Illiamna Volcano (pictured in the photo with the researchers), and right behind their home is the beginning of Kachemak Bay State Park.  Nestled in the mountains with a stellar view, incredible handcrafted architecture, a raging wood stove… it was heaven. I really hope I have a future that looks something like that life. 

As per usual, I took more film shots than digital, but here are some iPhone and DSLR images from the day. It was about 30 degrees, and the wind was relentless, but the beauty of the day outweighed any discomforts. Also, I layered in smart wool base layers, a fleece, a down coat, and a snowboarding shell. So I was as warm as I could have been.