Saturday, July 10, 2010

ALASKA: Chena River Cabin Adventures Part 2


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At right: Group picture on top of Angel Rocks

I hope I slept more than I think when I finally get up around 8. The cabin is quiet – quieter now that I am no longer rustling around on that air mattress! So peaceful in the sunshine on the front porch, but I can tell it is going to be warm today! Not a cloud in view.

Slowly people emerge into the sunshine and we get some water heating for coffee and oatmeal. We have to be out of the cabin by noon (more guests coming in) and Dan and Diana need to get back to town to work, etc. Boats have been deflated and rolled back up after drying in the warm sunshine. Rick and Dan brought the canoe up last night and retied it on the truck then.

We leave Chena River cabin around 11, heading further out Chena Road toward the hot springs. Our goal is the Angel Rocks trailhead, noted in the guide as the most popular hike in the Fairbanks area. Guess we’ll be good “tourists” today, but I am glad for a shorter, less strenuous hike because it is HOT!

We take the 3.5 mile Angel Rocks loop – 1.2 miles up to the rocks with a 900 foot climb, most of that in the final half mile! First part strolls along the river in the cool of the birch trees. The bugs aren’t too bad in here, but we all sprayed before leaving! We see an abundance of wildflowers: bunchberry, lingonberries, wild poppies, harebells, mountainbluebells, fireweed, wild sage, and many others Shelli probably told me the name of that I can’t remember! Up around the rocks the blueberries were ripe (or almost!) and the girls picked freely! They were a little tart, but good!

The rocks are the visible part of a huge volcanic plug of granite beneath the surface of the earth. Crumbling granite, so in places the trail was very slippery in tread. Interesting formations created by the forces of water, wind, and ice: pocket holes, promontories, fissures, etc. The view from the top of the Chena river system was great – rolling spruce covered hills, some fire damaged, but always plenty of green undergrowth. We snacked on GORP up at the top and drank water. I was pretty tired by the time I hit the top. This sunshine business is a stranger to us this year!

Coming down off the loop, we somehow got on the wrong trail which proved to be a shortcut STRAIGHT down the mountain! Another family was with us, but Shelli, Annika, and I were quite a ways behind Dave, Rick, and Sarah. It wasn’t a pretty descent – I did some of it on the seat of my pants, glad I had on a very old pair of sturdy jeans. No pictures on that stretch – my camera was safely in my pocket! The loop brought up down to another stretch along an old river channel, which meant thick with skeeters! Fast hiking on that section, as the spray is wearing off!

Back to the cars around 3 to snack on leftover birthday cake (we share with the family who came down just behind us) and a sleepy drive home. Everyone was tired! The clouds have really rolled in and we even had a couple drops of rain. I was still looking for a good moose picture, and we spied several coming home that Shelli stopped so we could take some pictures. I also looked hard for Mac’s street, but never found where he lived. Later realized I was looking for the sidestreet, not the main road that connected with Chena Road. Google maps straightened me out. I thought Mac was further out the highway as well – he is around Mile 6.

Dave gets right to work on the living room construction when we are unpacked, while the rest of the group crashes for showers, etc. Shelli pulls out her international cookbook and we make a Vegetable Curry dish from Nepal – perfect for the abundance of bok choy and cabbage that needed to be picked from the garden! After downloading a few pictures, Rick, Sarah, Annika, and I head upstairs to watch “The Russians Are Coming!” , one of their favorite movies! I could almost stay awake for all of it, but then worked on the first part of our blog until midnight!

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