Day 25 – To Kenai Peninsula

We woke up to breakfast and coffee as usual. I’ve been wanting to see the Northern Lights for a while, but even when I woke up at 1:30am, the sun hadn’t set. Maybe I’ll try 2:30am one night.

We looked through our book, 50 Hikes in the Kenai Peninsula, and decided to head to Russian Lakes since there was a cabin. We were at the trailhead by noon and had lunch before starting out. Scrambled egg sandwiches as usual. We saw some campground rangers at the parking lot, who advised us that although reservations are normally required for the public use huts, we would probably be able to stay in the hut as long as no one else had booked it out, since much of the Park was still closed.


Russian Lakes Trailhead

We set off, to a beautiful day. We didn’t go far, just an hour and a half or so to the cabin at the lower Russian Lake. We found the lower Russian Lake mostly frozen, with a relatively small portion thawed at the far end. We were amazed when we got to the far end of the lake and the cabin – the best we have seen so far. All the wood inside – the beds, table, and counters – was varnished and the logs of the walls were all uniform and perfectly sealed with caulking. There was a table, a big fireplace, newspaper and kindling, and a wood-shed outside completed with an axe and saw. Katie got to sawing a log too large for the fireplace, while I began chopping. I’m happy when there’s an axe, so we can do our part by not depleting the stock of firewood already there.


Starting a fire in the beautiful cabin


The dock and lower Russian Lake


Barber Cabin

Once we had a fire going, we headed out to see a rowboat, which looked like something from the army. We decided to go for a row, despite the high winds and ice on the lake. It was a fun adventure – we first tried to row through the ice, without any luck, and then decided to row up the lake beside the ice. We moved quite slowly as there was a strong headwind. When we were done rowing, we rowed the boat back to shore. I went to get out of the boat, and as I jumped the boat, along with Katie, zoomed backwards to the lake. It was too late for me save the boat, and Katie was sent off screaming downwind. With a flash of heroism, she turned herself around, grabbed hold of the oars, and rowed herself back upwind to the dock, where I jumped backed in. It was all rather exciting.


Katie rowing

We had a couscous dinner as usual, along with hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. Seeing that there was still lots of daylight left, I figured it would be a good idea to go swimming. The fire was roaring for when I returned.

I dove in off the dock, plunging into what I think is the coldest water I’ve ever swam in. I swam towards the ice flow – a flow of large chunks of ice flowing with the wind down the lake. For some reason, I thought I’d be able to swim through this ice, but I soon found out that ice chunks are solid and sharp. I swam back to shore and ran back to the cabin, making sure to wash my feet in a bucket of water before entering the cabin. I was slightly cut up from the ice – a lesson learned!


Diving into the lake at 6pm

We then went to bed, with it far too warm to be anywhere near our sleeping bags – a roaring fire continuing for many hours.

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