Sunday, April 1, 2012

Snowmachining + Remote Cabin + Melting Lake = Another Great Alaska Adventure!

Hopping on a snowmobile (snowmachine in Alaska terms) never made it to my bucket list even when we discovered we would be moving up here.  Why? Well, for one, snowmobile tours up here require a minimum age of 8 years old to ride with a parent. Second, the average cost per rider runs up to $200 for a couple-hour joyride. Eeeek.

Well, the beautiful thing about the military and honorary AF commanders is that they provide opportunities for a great time we normally wouldn't even consider. In this case, our gracious and generous honorary CC invited the squadron on a snow machining jaunt to his private cabin on Red Shirt Lake in the vast Nancy Lake State Recreation Area in Willow.

Now, let me explain why this is just the coolest thing.  In the summertime, this cabin is completely inaccessible unless by floatplane into the lake. In the winter, it is a 30 minute snow machine ride from the Nancy Lake Park public parking lot, through wooded trails and over three or four other small lakes and across Red Shirt. Food and beverages are provided by our host. And the use of the snow machines pooled together by fellow sq members and the host were free of charge. How could we say no?

Miss Liv outiftted in her face mask and goggles (thank you REI dividend and seasonal clearance sale!), ready to rock and roll!

We were prepared to hold them in front of us on these skidoos until this wonder came along...

This is genius!!! My nightmares of a munchkin flying from my grasp dissolved into thin air! This pod seats two little ones on a padded bench seat, seat belts, and a bit of cargo space towards the front.

The big BearCat snowmobile pulled this along, the Mister driving, with me in the backseat.

Dylan partnered up with an experienced rider, although he did drive the first five miles. When we got here at Bald  Lake (?) to regroup, they switched off and he was more than happy to just ride in the back when driving across frozen bodies of water.

The scenery was gorgeous. There were many many times I was tempted to pull my phone out and take some pictures or video, but knowing my luck, we'd jump a bump in the process and my white-cased phone would be lost forever. :-(

Riding across the lakes was a bit unnerving, considering that this IS springtime and it was only a matter of weeks...days even, before the park closes the trail we were on because of melting ice.

We got to the cabin, a well-appointed one by backcountry standards (electricity and heat but with a vault toilet outhouse).

This is Red Shirt Lake. The mountains off in the distance? That's where we rode in from. 

Snowman making and snowball fights took up the majority of the day.

Another great view from the upstairs cabin deck.

It was all fun and games with hot dogs on the grill and beef and turkey chili later in the afternoon.
Many of us hopped on the machines and went for a spin around.

And then after a warm, sunny, glorious day, more telltale signs of spring decided to make things interesting:

See the slushy parts? Yep, that's the lake. 
We were in clear danger of not making it out of there that night. When the drivers came back from one of the last departure legs, they also informed us the park rangers already pulled the trail markers from the middle of the lake.  Meaning....we were on that lake the very very last day it was safe to be on it. LOL (all of you know I laugh when I'm nervous). The guys who frequent this area just shrugged and said that we simply need to gun it across, as slowing down will mean a cold watery death that night. Hahaha funny. NOT.

As the last leg out, we screeched out of there at quarter to nine, going as fast as we could without joggling the girls' noggins too much.  Big big sigh of relief once we were on terra firma. We got to the parking lot at dusk, with just enough daylight to load the machines on their trailers.

On the drive home, the big discussion was if the viewing of the Aurora still topped our Alaska adventure list.  Seeing something so beautiful, I never once thought it would lose its place as THE number one Alaska experience. Funny enough, a day trip that we almost decided not to participate in won hands down.


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