I have some catching up to do! On June 22, Ellie and I checked Perseverance Lake off the hiking list. This one's about five miles round trip, which is pretty much Ellie's limit. She was totally done at the end of this one.
This trail begins near Ward Lake and has tons of berries along the way. Unfortunately, when we went through, it was still early for picking. The trailhead said it was bear country, to I made sure to leash up Ellie and I let my new bear bell jingle us all the way there.
The lake at the end was so beautiful. I did unleash Ellie when we got there so she could get around. The edge of the lake was covered in brush, logs and muskeg so we had to pick out route carfully. I think we stayed about 30 minutes eating snacks and then headed back. The trail guide says there's 450 feet of elevation gain, but my GPS showed 557. Not that it makes that much of a difference.
I let Ellie run off-leash on the way back. I'm sure she enjoys it much more. She always runs back and forth, waiting for me to catch up before she takes off again.
The day was perfect for hiking, as most days around here have been. Overcast and about 60-65 degrees, a little rain every once in a while, but no sun baring down on you on exposed desert trails. It's a nice change.
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.
Saturday mid-morning I met up with Danelle from Rain City K9 for some search and rescue dog practice. I had volunteered to “get lost” for the dogs. She mentioned that the dogs don't get a lot of opportunity to pratice in the heat so it was a good day to be out in the woods for a few hours.
When we got started I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
I got “lost” four times and each time I found the dogs to be just hilarious. In theory, it is a game of fetch, but the dog has found something too big for them to bring to their master, so they have to bring thier master to the thing. The dog finds me and then runs back and barks, letting the master know the dog found something. Then the dog makes these mad dashes back and forth between me and their master until she reaches me and “finds” me. The dogs get so excited once they find you, it cracked me up everytime.
After we were done working the dogs, all six went swimming in the pond and having a great time. It was so much fun and I'll definitely be looking to do that again.
I took a little video of Aida finding me. She was so funny and it's really fun when they find you because you can just tell they are so excited to do their job. And then when you throw the toy for them afterward they are just in doggy heaven.
I didn't take Ellie with me since the other dogs were working dogs and Ellie would have had to stay in the car while they completed their exercises. I'm convinced she would love playing with the dogs, as long it is wasn't in the water and they didn't get too rough. Plus, I didn't think her little legs would do very well in the deep brush. She stayed home in the shade and napped off the hike we took earlier.
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.