The (almost) Annual October Canoe Trip

1 11 2011

It was definitely our shortest (although not our intention) and latest October canoe trip. We’ve dealt with snow and ice before, just not this extent ๐Ÿ™‚ Adam, Melissa, and I love the October canoe trip-it’s chilly, a little more challenging (weatherwise), we hardly see a soul, we fish, Adam and Melissa hunt grouse, and we get to sleep in the Kifaru (Adam and Melissa’s 9-ish lb tent which includes a wood stove!). Every year we pick a different spot swapping between north and south of Anchorage routes, and this year it was my turn to head to the Kenai to meet up with Adam and Melissa. We put in on the Swan Lake canoe trails at Canoe lake #1. And didn’t make it very far……

We hit ice on the first lake. No problem, we’ve dealt with ice before. Just not this thick-about 3/4 of an inch. After what seemed like at least an hour of hacking at the ice with my paddle, then ramming it with the boats and making very little progress, we turned to shore to portage our boats around the ice through the muskeg and swamp to open water.

Adam and Luke taking a break in the swamp portage. *Somehow* I managed to fall in twice, once to above my knee and the second time mid-thigh. Anyone that knows me will be shocked at this ๐Ÿ™‚ I was spending this break wringing out my pants, socks, and emptying my extratuffs.

Adam carrying the grouse Melissa got.

After another battle with the ice we made it to the Canoe Lake #2, which we were pleasantly surprised was ice free. Things were looking up! However, we made the quick paddle across the lake, hit the portage trail to Canoe Lake #3 and found it 4/5 covered in ice. And through our very scientific analysis (throwing stuff on the lake to break the ice) we gathered the ice to be 1-1.5 inches thick. Thick enough to be a serious problem and not thick enough to walk on. We looked into our options portaging around the lake, but it looked pretty difficult through the brush and trees. So we made the best of it and opted to set up a nice camp in a sweet spot, canoe, fish, and hunt grouse.

The family. Luke, Melissa, and Adam.

Adam holding the Dolly Varden I caught. I got a bunch of bites, but this was the only taker. Melissa also caught a half spawned silver salmon-which I was surprised to see being the last weekend in October.

Me dorking it up with the paddle t-shirt Greg bought me for my birthday.

Adam sawing wood for the Kifaru’s stove.

This is what we woke up to in the morning- about 3 inches of fresh snow! And I’m canoeing and not skiing………

Seeing the amount of snow and new ice forming on the lake, we were (unfortunately) glad we didn’t get too far into the canoe system.

Adam making art in the snow.

The temporary ย art “installation.”

Adam and Luke negotiating the water portage between Canoe #2 and Canoe #1. Shortly after I took this I got put in front, and quickly became the abominable snowman. Melissa lucked out and steered our canoe ๐Ÿ™‚

It continued to snow like a banshee the whole way back. There must have been four inches at the truck, a ton more than we found in Sterling.

Melissa and Luke.

Adam and Luke cutting through the slushy sludge forming into ice.

ย Adam on the swamp portage back.ย 

It was a great trip, although I think we’ll go a week or two earlier next year ๐Ÿ™‚

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2 responses

2 11 2011
Ike Waits

A great vicarious trip for me while I am in AZ and much warmer. Thanks for sharing the story and images! I look forward to the next adventure.

2 11 2011
amberejohnson

Ike-I’m jealous of your warm weather! When are you planning on coming back up?

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