Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summit Lake Camping Trip

Our final camping trip of the season (very unfortunate since this has been the best and warmest summer ever in AK), but since my sister and her fab fam were visiting in July, then the epic Sadie Cove adventure, followed by Grandma & Grandpa Ochoa (Mister's parents) coming over to spend August with us...our schedule really didn't have any more room for another one.

Tenderfoot Creek Campground sits on the shore of Upper Summit Lake, between Portage and Moose Pass on the Kenai Peninsula.  

We scored a lakeshore campsite that had its own little path to the water. Those two days are about the only two days this summer that it rained. We were lucky, though, as it only sprinkled just a little bit the night we were setting up.

This was a special trip since we were accompanied by some great friends who were also eager to try a new pastime: geocaching!

Geocaching involves a network of people who hide little treasures and post the GPS coordinates on a website for others to find.  The caches can range from a small container with just a little log for finders to sign their names on to ammo cans full of little trinkets.  Caching etiquette calls on finders to leave one of their own treasures if they are going to keep something from the cache.

Our first treasure hunt led us only a bit down a dirt road from the campground, and up the abandoned ski resort hill.

The kids gathered around the cache to collect their treasures.

View from the cache with the collapsed ski chair pull to the left.

Wonderful thing about campfires...they bring the family together through stories, games, jokes, and SMORES!

She was so excited that daddy finally let her use a REAL knife. She whittled sticks all night she gave herself blisters!

The kids loved those foil wrapped Jiffy Pop popcorn kits.

We especially loved the dice games we played in the tent. I don't think we slept earlier than midnight those nights (you could never really tell since it didn't get dark).

This wasn't a blow-your-mind beautiful camping location. Just a simple little two-night getaway for the family. But it's still as special as all the rest of our adventures because we spent it together.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Camping Trip of 2013: Eklutna Lake

 Memorial Day signals to Alaskans the first warm weekend of the year...a threshold into a summer long awaited.  With this year's fickle winter, this couldn't be any more true. It had snowed several inches just the weekend prior. It seemed all the residents of AK communed in collective prayer for sunshine and warmth after that mid-May snowstorm. Thankfully, the power of prayer is a strong force indeed.

I've commented on FB as we departed for this trip that this was definitely THE most unorganized camping trip we've ever tried.  In hindsight, it was pretty well planned.  I think the touchiest part of this endeavor involved in the securing of a first-come-first-served site at the Eklutna Lake Campground, since this place is a go-to for many locals.

Wednesday night, hubby and I went out to the lake after we put the kiddos to bed, and thanking the heavens for late hours daylight, set up the tent in one of the handful of vacant sites on the grounds.  We left, arriving back at the casa close to midnight, hoping nobody would notice that our site was unattended (apparently the practice of setting up camp just to reserve it is not allowed). Both Louie and I still had to work on Thursday...and we planned to make it out with the rest of our gear and the children plus dog that night.

To our relief, our site was still how we left it. It turned out driving out the night prior was a good decision.  When we came back, the campground was full, to include the overflow campground!

The kids lucked out when they found a homemade bow and arrow at the site.  Sophie didn't waste any time pretending to be Katniss. 

The Mister takes these trips as an opportunity to teach the children basic survival skills. In previous years, Dylan was the only one old enough to build a fire himself.  Now, Soph has stepped into his position, with Dylan moving up to the task of guiding her should she need help (of course, hubby is watching very closely as well).  This was the very first campfire she built all by herself.  Look at how proud she is.

Baby girl does NOT like smoke in her eyes. 

 We had plans to kayak the lake the next morning...but this revelation derailed our plans. The late season snowfall and low temps kept it iced over well into the end of May.

Instead, we decided to try to climb as high as we could on the Twin Peaks trail.

Sophie would blaze ahead, impatient with the slow pace. Liv would plop herself down in the middle of the path, as is the norm, and overturn large rocks embedded into the trail just so we could marvel at her strength. 

Mister D joked about the absence of the bench I had touted as our turnaround point, promising them  several times during our walk that it would be "just around the bend".

We stopped after about a mile and a half, never finding the bench we had strived to reach. The constant uphill grade was a bit much for the little one, who wasn't up to physical exertion that morning. 

 Back at camp, I whipped up some fried rice from some leftover rice and chicken adobo.

Then we drove two miles up the road to Rochelle's Ice Cream Shop for dessert.

Dylan always orders a banana split when we drop by here. I tried the Glacier Float (blueberry ice cream in 7Up) which was interesting and strangely delicious.

A quick run to town to purchase a new air mattress (the old one had an irreparable leak) took up the rest of our afternoon.

our goofballs

Homemade chicken and dumplings for dinner.

S'mores for dessert!

The next day was as bright and warm as the day before. We gathered our bikes and headed down the lakeside trail for a quick ride.

Roxy had a body harness tethered to the bike as well!

 One of our fave families came to visit and brought over a cookie cake to celebrate my 35th year of being YOUNG. As if that wasn't enough sugar, we drove over to Rochelle's again for some ice cream!

The telescope zoned in on the herds of Dall sheep grazing along the mountaintops.

If you can spot the outcropping of land jutting into the lake on the left hand side far off in the distance under the mountain, that is where we camped in a public use cabin last year.

As always, father and son occupied their time with rock-throwing contests...

...while Sophia dug in the glacial silt and rocks.

And as anxious as I was before this trip, it turned out surprisingly well.  The meals were planned just right. Aside from having to purchase another air mattress, we had all the gear we needed. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and everyone had a great time.

Not a bad way to kick off summer!