year of books – march, april

Alaska, reading

I’m finally feeling a bit caught up in the reading department. It seems I’ve been behind in keeping up with reading one book per month ever since… January. 🙂

During a quick last minute, weekend trip to Salt Lake City, I finished up “A Long Trek Home: 4,000 miles by boot, raft and ski” by Erin McKittrick. Hooray for March’s book.
McKittrick as a great conversational style about her writing. She and her husband, Hig, and two kiddos, Katmai and Lituya, came through Ketchikan a few months ago on a tour for her second book. I talked with them for a while about their experiences and I easily heard her voice in my head as I read.
The fun thing about meeting the authors and going to readings is getting signed copies of the books. I’ve been able to pick up a few while in Ketchikan for the past year.
I did really enjoy both books. It was such an interesting look at how simple life can be, living in a yurt with two small children, or backpacking from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands.
Sometimes after finishing an adventure book, I feel an intense need to go explore someplace or get “lost” in the wilderness. I felt that after finishing Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” even though I was already on a ferry to Alaska. I didn’t feel that way with these. I suspect it’s because their adventures are a bit more ambitious than I would choose myself. And sometimes, it sounds down right miserable.
I’m fine with reading about it from the comfort of my chair in the living room. 
McKittrick talks a lot about the impact of greenhouse gases and the effects of global warming on Alaska’s environment. I never really considered Alaska’s terrain or weather as fragile — it’s so bitter and harsh. But I was reminded that glaciers and forests are just as fragile and sensitive to climate change as algae are to water temperature change. 
She doesn’t talk much about solutions though, only that global warming is happening and Alaska’s environment is changing. It’s quite possible the solution is bigger than one person can write about in an adventure book. When I finished the books, I sort of thought, “Well, there’s nothing we can do about the Malispina Glacier melting.” A sort of, I don’t know what to do and I know I’m contributing to greenhouse gases, but what do you want me to do about it?
The pair have founded “a nonprofit that uses science and adventure to further the conversation about Alaska’s environment,” according to the book cover. Check out Ground Truth Trekking (facebook, twitter) for an updated report about their adventures, science and experience raising two children off the road system in Alaska.
And, if you don’t know what it means to “live off the road system in Alaska,” you should pick up “Small Feet, Big Land” and learn about it. 
I enjoyed reading about the journey, and getting an intimate look at life “on the edge of Alaska” with toddlers. The life may not be quite what I imagine for myself, but it is a good reminder of how simply life can be lived.
After finishing up “Small Feet, Big Land,” I picked up “The Vagina Monologues.” The V-Day performance was produced in Ketchikan a couple weekends ago. I really wanted to see it, but I was pretty sick that weekend and opted to stay home. I had heard enough about the performance and content to know the vein of the subject, but in talking to the director and a couple participants, I became even more curious. In the name of research for the article, I finally purchased up the book.
So far it’s a quick, easy read. Maybe I’ll be able to stay on schedule this month. 🙂

rainbird trail

Alaska, hiking, hiking alaska, Hiking in Ketchikan, I went outside, Ketchikan, rainbird trail, southeast trails

The past handful of days have been absolutely beautiful. I know I've said that before, but this last weekend brought sunshine and absolutely clear blue skies. Sunday was warmer than 80 degrees and it was just the thing I needed to feel like my spunky self.

I knew ahead of time that Saturday was going to be gorgeous so I planned to hike early before meeting up with Danelle and the search and rescue dogs. I decided to tackle the Rainbird trail with Ellie.

We picked it up at the trailhead behind the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus. The trailhead leads right out of the parking lot and is a couple miles from the house so it is super convenient. Conceivably, we could walk to the trailhead that is closest to us, about a mile, instead of driving all the way to the college. But then we would have a LOT of stairs to deal with.

We went the whole length of the trail and came back. It was a nice walk, about 2.25 miles round trip with about 145 feet elevation change. It's a nice flat trail once you get up to it, though there are just a couple spots in the middle that can be a bit steep and would have the potential to be slippery in the rain.


There are a couple other entrances to the trail, one at the other end and in about the middle. They both use stairs to access the trail. A lot of stairs. If you start at the college there aren't any stairs and there is a nice little incline at the very beginning, but it doesn't last very long.

Ellie handled the trail really well. I had done it once earlier in the week for work and I thought there might be a couple tricky spots for her but she handled it like a champ. It's also not Forest Service land so she is free to roam without a leash.


carlanna lake

Alaska, Carlanna Lake, I went outside, Ketchikan, Ketchikan Alaska, life, Southeast Alaska

During my lunch break Friday I went over to the Discovery Center and picked up the Ketchikan Area Trails Guide. To my surpise, and delight, it was free, not printed with an ink jet printer and spiral bound. Score! It has listed 24 hikes plus a handful of remote trails. 

Each trail is complete with directions to the trailhead, a description of the hike and a map. I will happily attempt to hike them all during my stay here.

So this weekend, armed with my handy new trail guide, animal and plant guides and bear info, Ellie and I headed up to Carlanna Lake and then to the end of the trail where it turns into Minerva Mountain Trail. Minerva Mountain Trail is a primitive trail and since I have yet to aquire good map and compass skills, I didn't attempt it.

But even ending where we did, the hike was about 4 miles round trip with about 1,260 net elevation. Not a bad little hike. the trails here are very well maintained and marked which is pretty nice. Though they are covered with crushed rock and I think it hurts Ellie's feet. We'll have to experiment a little more with that. 

The other thing to note is fishing is allowed at Carlanna Lake year round. And since the lake itself is only .25 miles from the parking lot it's a totally viable option.

Anyway, it was a beautiul day and we did get a little rain on the way down, which didn't bother me at all. Surprise surprise. Oddly enough I had sort of wanted to see a bear, but I was relieved to end up back at the car without seeing one. I should find out how common it is to see one while hiking. Also, note to self, get a bell to attach to my pack. And Ellie.

And bonus, upon arriving home my first box from SLC had arrived and was waiting for me at the door. What a happy sight.