Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Anton Who?

A few weeks ago we took a drive to an area of Kodiak called Anton Larsen Bay, which is about a half an hour drive from the base.  And because I always veer toward the nerdy side, I feel compelled to let you know that Anton Larsen was a Norwegian explorer and immigrant who settled in Kodiak in 1887, and married a creole Alutiiq Alaskan native named Olga Naumaf.  Their descendents still live in the area, which I thought was kind of interesting. 

A lot of the mountains around here are named after people who settled the area, too.  I'm sure I'm not the only person who wonders about where things like street and town names originate - or in the case here, mountains - but I'm probably in the minority with actually looking the info. up to find out.  Like I said, I veer toward the nerdy side.  Okay, you can come back to me now.  No more forced Kodiak history lessons. 

Point A is our house, and point B is the trail head at Anton Larsen Bay

The drive down Anton Larsen Bay Road is mostly an unpaved, winding route through the mountains and wilderness.  It's not exactly a well maintained road, so it's a little on the rough side.  Some of the pot holes look like they could swallow you up if you're not paying attention, but the payoff once you make it to the bay is worth the bumps and creative swerving around the rugged "road."  Four wheel drive is a good idea for this trip.

Once we made it out to the bay, one of the first things we saw was a sea otter. - Just chilling out in the water, doing his otter-y backstroke.  He was adorable, and I was so glad I had my binoculars to get a better look at him.  The zoom lens on my camera is a little rinky-dink, so there's no way I would have been able to grab a picture of him because of how far away we were, but the otter sighting was a little peek into what an incredible day we had ahead of us.  I've said it before, but I'm telling you, it's like the God damn Discovery Channel living up here.

Most of Kodiak Island is considered a coastal temperate rainforest, which basically translates to having the most unbelievably mossy forest floors I've ever seen in person.  I've written about the mossy forests here before, and this hike was another incredible experience exploring them.

I swear I can still hear the ripples of that water. - I love how the moss spills over the side of the bank into the river 

It's hard to even describe it.  It's one of those experiences you have to see and smell and hear in person.  The air is so crisp and has this subtle and pleasant earthy quality to it.  And other than the sounds of the birds cheeping, it's so quiet and still.  It all adds up to be truly extraordinary.  I know I sound a little dramatic, but it really is something to see.  It's like being in another world.  All that and it's only a walk in the woods.

Look at all that green!

When you step on to that mossy blanket of green, it's so spongy and deep - you sink at least a few inches in to it.  It's like nature's version of a fluffy shag carpet.  Minus the 70's disco.  I remember the first time we stepped in to one of these mossy areas.  No exaggeration, my mouth fell open in disbelief as I looked around.  Because the moss not only covers the floor, but it crawls its way up the trees and any other surface that touches the ground. - Rocks, fallen branches, tree stumps, everything.  It's otherworldly.  

We were hiking along the trail next to a little river when we came upon this tree.  It was higher up along the trail, and we had to scramble up the root system to get up to the top where the trail kept going.  We kind of had to use the tree roots as a natural staircase.  A very crooked and asymmetrical staircase.

It was on the steep side climbing up the roots, but the view at the top was remarkable because it was right on the edge.  Once we were at the top, we were looking almost straight down the side of the incline, and the river was a good 30-40 feet below.  It was a little unnerving if you even thought for one second about losing your footing.  Which of course I thought about as soon as I saw how far up we climbed.  I did that a few times during our hike that day!  Some parts of the trail were so narrow that you were just teetering along the side of a substantial drop off as you made your way along.  No guard rails here!  It definitely made me say wow to myself more than once during the day.  Okay, it made me say, "wow" and "watch your freaking step, Peg!"

Cheety getting his hike on.  I think he would try and climb a tree if he thought he could do it

Just a little thirst quencher
And of course, Cheety the adventure dog had no qualms whatsoever climbing up tree roots & rocks, charging up the hills and down into the river for a dip and a drink.

He absolutely loves going hiking with us.  He's so alert when we're out on the trail. - He cocks his little head to the side and listens to all the birds and wildlife, I'm sure thinking about how he would chase them if he could see them!
I swear, he was meant to be a cold weather mountain dog! 
Another unbelievable tree we saw - I'm loving this picture!

I was worried about him not being able to swim as much up here as he was used to doing in Florida, but he seems to like the hiking just as much.  And of course, I can't wait to see his reaction to seeing snow for the first time.

Just when I think we've seen the most beautiful, scenic parts of Kodiak, we explore an area that we haven't been to yet and I prove myself wrong again.

And almost every time we venture out to somewhere new, I'm totally awed by the natural landscape.

I think this quote that I couldn't find an author for sums it up perfectly:   "The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man."

Amen!  Although, I wouldn't oppose a guard rail or two on the "oh shit" parts of the trail.

Ta-ta for now.

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