29 May, 2009

Memorial Weekend @ Byer's Lake - Part II

Scenic pictures are at full resolution again. They're definitely worth looking at in the larger view - altho nothing really compares to seeing it in person... =)

So Sunday, was another absolutely *fantastic* day camping. A nice day for canoeing and hiking... our group did some of each. The hike around the lake ended up taking longer than I expected. It's supposed to be 4 or 5 miles, which is not a big deal - I've done charity walks about that long and they only took me a bit less than 1 and a half hours... but this is not paved walking trails. And we added in a side-trip to Cascade Falls, and then above the falls... so the whole thing took approximately 5 and a half hours and was probably more like 6-7 miles. It was *so* worth it!!

Turns out I should probably invest in some hiking shoes. The tennies worked okay (in that I didn't fall or twist my ankle or break any appendages), but I'm told hikers will help out a lot. They may not cure the utter, uncontrollable death-vise panic I sometimes experience, but being more stable in where I walk might ease things a bit. I only cried like a baby twice on this hike - but I didn't wet my pants and I finished the entire thing. =) Who knows... If I'd had hikers, maybe I wouldn't have cried at all... altho I'm sure that I'd still experience the panic - maybe it just wouldn't be as extreme. And then if I continue to do more of this stuff (which I'll have to do, since I will have invested $$ in the boots and I shouldn't be wasting my investments), the panic will ease to just dread and then dislike and eventually to a non-event. Hmmm... something to look forward to... =)

When we got to Cascade Falls, it was really nice. Pretty, but also cooler from the water spray and a breeze. Greg climbed into the middle of the creek on some rocks to have his picture taken... when he made his way out, we found that one of the rocks had gashed his leg (bad rock!!) and he was bleeding profusely. Fortunately, John was carrying emergency supplies.

On the rest of the hike, one of our songs was "I am stuck on Kotex, 'cuz Kotex's stuck on me!" I'd heard of having pads in the emergency supply kit, but never really thought of it. Now, I'll have to make sure we always have some in there. The only problem was the sticky part was on the wrong side. So we used a few bandaids to attach the big blood sponge to Greg's leg.

Thought this might cut short our trek, but not so. Greg's the one that pushed to continue to the site above the falls. And the view was worth everything we did to get there. He had his tripod and the good camera, so we were able to take a group shot with McKinley in the background. I'll have to post that one - maybe on Facebook - when he's done downloading all the pics he took.

Not being a regular hiker (nor a boyscout), I wasn't as prepared as I should have been. Thanks to Todd we had some energy bars & a little water, and thanks to John we had the emergency first aid kit. I'm thinking that I'll get one of those camel packs (to go with my new boots) and stuff the pockets with some trail food and first aid stuff. That way, I'll be ready for any non-serious event I may encounter...

The rest of the hike was a breeze. We passed Beaman's Cabin - built in 1959 (I think), it's not really a great place to stay... but I suppose it'd be better than nothing. We arrived back at the cabins parched, hungry, tired, and with sore feet (our dawgs were barkin'!!) but satisfied with the adventures of the day. We crossed 11 bridges, 8 boardwalks, and 11 snow packs throughout the entire trek; in addtion to seeing squirrels, little chickadee birds, and swans; the falls, the cabin, and The Mountain. A Grand Adventure, indeed!

Spent the rest of the day visiting, playing games, and enjoying the company of good friends - exactly the way a good campout should end.

Packing up Monday morning went faster & easier than I anticipated, thanks to all the people that had water vessels. Between Brian's, John's, and Tony's canoes, just about everything made it across the lake. Greg took a bit in his kayak, and the rest we hauled out over the trail. We were supposed to be out by noon, but things went so smoothly that we were on the other side and packing up the car by just after 10am - a huge relief, as I was worried that the packing & trekking out part was going to be miserable...

Since Monday was Memorial Day, before going south we headed up the road to the Alaska Veterans Memorial. A chance to take some time to recognize the blessings I have because someone else was willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Side note: We recently had dinner with Greg's dad, who has been doing some work in Afghanistan. It was interesting to hear about the conditions of the people and how he lives while he's there. It makes me appreciate the luxuries that I'm surrounded with every day. I love having running water and a flushing toilet; I love turning on the tap and getting sanitary water - and more, filtering my sanitary water to have even more refreshing drinking water; and ice cubes - I really do love my ice maker; and being able to get away for a weekend of camping with friends; buying my fruits & meats in a grocery store; and this way of living - that I enjoy and sometimes complain about, but really wouldn't trade - was made possible by the sacrifice of others. I am thankful and humbled that there are those in the world willing to put themselves in harms way to protect the freedoms of others, whom they don't even know.

We stopped in lovely downtown Talkeetna to get lunch before the long drive home. Mountain High Pizza Pie won the vote for where to dine, and it was mighty tasty. Spent a little time wandering around to see the shops and get some treats, then headed down the road towards home.

There's a pullout outside of Talkeetna that has a great view - and The Mountain was out for us again. Different angle than what we'd had all weekend, but majestic just the same. This really is going to be a weekend that's hard to beat.

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