Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jodphur Loop- Kincaid Park

It was another rainy day until the hike started. Mother Nature decided to allow a hoard of little boys to run rampant on the Jodphur loop trail.

Raspberries were plentiful along the trail, as were puddles. Rainsuits were in high fashion, as were rain boots. It is just that time of year.

  If you have not done this trail prior, there are many trail options. We took the shorter route and cut-off beside the large bridge (that goes over Raspberry rd). The trail head itself is at the far end of Dimond Rd, behind a red gate that opens right at 10 am.

 The trail starts at the far end of the parking lot behind a large trail map. There are many things to see along the way--- mushrooms, raspberries, and an abandoned car are among a few.

The trails are wide and perfect for running. The best part is that it is secluded from the road, yet the road is near enough that you feel comfortable exploring a bit. We walked a little over a mile total, which seemed to be perfect for most of the traipsing kiddos.

Please join us next week!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Barber Cabin- Fantastic Family Hiking

Destination: Barber Cabin 
Trail: Russian Lakes Trail. Access from Russian River campground in Cooper Landing, AK. Free parking for those with cabin registration (bring printed out copy for proof).
Distance: 3.3 miles each way (6.5 RT)
Trail conditions: Jogging stroller friendly, child friendly, high grasses and trees; hilly
To reserve:  As of 8.20.12, the cost is $45/night for Barber Cabin.

Forest service cabins are wonderful destinations for camping trips. If you have not been to one yet, you definitely should. Some are relatively short hiking distances, others are 10+ miles away from the nearest road and even more you can only fly or boat into. Endless adventure awaits.
Barber Cabin
The beauty of this hike is that it is easily doable for children. The cabin itself is labeled as "handicap accessible", and the trail is as well. We chose to bring our Chariot stroller to allow for flexibility in our journey--- either our little guy could ride in the stroller, my frame pack could ride while he is on my back or he could hike on his own. It was a must in order to carry the necessary gear and food for 2 days of rustic camping.

Inside of cabin
 The trail is roomy, but has very tall growth on either side. There are parts that go through trees as well. Definitely a must to make plenty of noise!

High weeds/growth, but still well-established trail
 The cabin is located on the Lower Russian Lake and comes complete with bunks to sleep 6, table and benches, wood stove and a canoe and life vests. The canoe is tied up a few hundred yards away at the dock by the lake.

Have canoe, will paddle

One of the first things we did upon arriving was to take the canoe out on the water. The lake is surrounded by mountains that have plentiful waterfalls, eagles, loons and glacier views.

Few things can beat this

View of surrounding mountains/waterfalls
Checking out loons and waterfalls

Paddling our way to an early bedtime

 It is one of the most idyllic settings we have found. It was removed enough from others to make it feel as if we were the only ones for miles.

 On the hike back, we spotted a young coyote on the side of the trail. This is one of the many reasons to keep your canine friends on a leash while hiking! Of course, no picture to follow.

We will definitely be making a return trip next year. I would highly suggest you try to as well if an adventurous mood should strike.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kincaid Trails Mosey

 I have to admit that as I sat in my car at Kincaid with the rain pounding on the roof, I sort of hoped no one else would show up for the hike.  Two other people pulled into the lot and the rain magically stopped.  It never returned!
 After a vote, we decided to meander along the trails.  Thank goodness it wasn't winter....
 Two little babes, three parents and three toddlers walked down the paths.  It wasn't the quickest or longest hike, but it was so nice to just take our time and talk.
 We even found some raspberries along the path.  The kiddos quickly munched them down.
 This new addition to our group was a good sport and didn't mind our snail's pace.
 Everyone seemed to have fun in there own way.  G helped his mom push the stroller!
 My older son took some pictures.  Not too bad?
 We walked up the path and over the bridge.  The boys all trip-trapped and I was glad there was no troll underneath.  It turned into a sunny day and some of the kids played at the park in the sun!  I hope you join us next week!  -Lia

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beach Lake

Every time we go to Beach Lake, I am reminded of why it is one of our favorite spots! The trail by the lodge gives you the best of both worlds-- hiking by a gorgeous lake, and then mud and the inlet at  the end. Bonus for kiddos and adults!

8 families joined us on this spectacular summer day, and mother nature smiled on us. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and everyone was ready to roll.

If you haven't hiked this trail before, it is a great one for toddlers.

There are narrow spots that are not stroller friendly, so it is best to wear your kiddos or let them walk it out. It is a little over a mile each way, which ends up being a fairly nice jaunt by day's end.

The trail follows along the lake for a while, then branches into a wider tree and brush lined trail. After turning left at a large clearing onto well-trodded trail, down a hill into some muddy areas, you take a small trail to the left to get to the inlet. Today we noticed that the trail was blocked by a felled tree. You will see a cross memorial at the end of this short trail-- turn right and walk along the bluff for about .4 miles. There will be a less steep area to climb down to get into the beach at the inlet.

Those that made it to the inlet had a blast in the silty mud. Kiddos romped, adults sunned, and some stayed on the bluff to see it all.

We could have stayed all day!

Toddler beach time.

This wee creature came out of the mud by the Inlet--- this loving Mama decided to keep him.

Completely unintentional 'evolution-eque' picture.

Perfect picnic.

Picture perfect day.

Join us next week!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Salmonberries - Field Notes from Kodiak

My family and I have been thoroughly enjoying our extended stay in Kodiak this summer while Amanda has graciously been holding down the fort and running hikes for me this summer. (Make sure to give her a big THANK YOU when you see her out on the trails!)

My favorite part of the year is always berry picking season! It's in my blood, literally. My father is half Finnish, making me a quarter and the Finns are avid berry pickers as their climate is very similar to Alaska. Even those who immigrated to the US, kept up this tradition. My great grandmother owned a blueberry farm in southern New Hampshire. My grandfather made sure to have a bounty of blueberry bushes on his own property. My dad grew up picking berries at my Great Grandma Liimatainen's farm.

Alaska is a land where people take the utmost pride in their ability to subsist of the land. So be careful when you ask someone where their favorite blueberry spot is... they may lead you astray. Like favorite hunting grounds and fishing holes, we guard our berry picking spots with great secrecy, only to be shared with family or close friends.

My little forager.
This year was a new first for me in my long line of years picking the wild fruit... Salmonberries! What is a salmonberry you might ask. Well it is a beefed up close relative to the raspberry. The leaves and stems are very reminiscent of the raspberry, but the flower is big and bright pink. You can take the flower off the stem and suck the sweet fragrant nectar from it, much like you would with honeysuckle. The berries themselves are again much like the raspberry, with the same fruit structure, but much larger. They change in color from green, to orange to a deep blood red when ripe and are called salmonberries because they look strikingly like salmon roe (eggs). Not quite as sweet as their cousins, they make for the best pie I've ever had! They are great for making jam, sauces, wine and ice cream too.

Due to the cold, very snowy winter, they were a little later in their ripening this year. While my family was on one of our almost nightly walks on the docks, checking out the fishing boats and more importantly the new sailboats in from all over the world, I overheard a funny conversation between two burly fishermen getting their nets ready for their next run. They were cursing up a storm, when one stops and says "Hey what's up with the salmonberries this year? But this f*&%$ing time last year I was f#%^@ing making jam!" It seemed so comical to me that such a rough and tumble guy would be swearing and talking about one of the most historically domestic tasks. Even cussing, giant, weathered men have a soft side.

While the fisherman like salmonberries, so too do many of the birds. It is amusing to watch them after they've gorged themselves on the fruit, then try to take off and fly, markedly larger than when they had first landed. Flying much lower to the ground they take a while to gain altitude.

While at storytime at the local library, the children's librarian read a great story about berries, harnessing the many connections and experiences the children have with them this time of year. The craft to go along with the story was to make a berry bucket, complete with bells, so you can easily locate your child and in Kodiak hopefully warn the bears of your presence, as they love berries too. If only Sal in Blueberries for Sal had a berry bucket with bells... ah but then there wouldn't have been a good story to tell.

Here are the materials needed for the bucket:
  • a yogurt container with lid
  • hole puncher
  • yarn
  • pipecleaners
  • bells
  • stickers to decorate
Here's a link to my berry season post last year with a variety of lesson ideas, activities and books that focus on berry picking: Blueberry Buddies and Lessons from the Land.