Sunday, June 03, 2007
School is out for the summer! To celebrate our freedom, we went camping.
Last week we hiked all of two miles into Chugach State Park at the Eagle River Nature Center. Tom had reserved the yurt for three days. Our friends, the Doblers, were able to join us. They are teachers, too. They brought their lovely daughters, Sarah and Emmalynn. All four girls got along really well and the big ones even managed to include Vivi without a whole lot of drama. YIPPY!
We had great views all around. I mean, how could you go wrong? The weather was fairly nice the first two days. The first day even had quite a bit of sunshine.
We got to watch the valley floor green up, the birches really changed and leafed in while we were there.
It is amazing how just two miles in can feel so remote. We were about 100 feet above the river and on the river side of the yurt the sound of the water on the rapids was so loud. However, when I walked ten feet towards the fire ring, the sound became a mere background noise.
We were serenaded constantly by all sorts of sparrows and warblers. We actually did not see too many of the birds. What we did see was amazing. There were several varied thrushes singing all around us. We actually got to see one several times. They are gorgeous. Zoey and I watched one sing and sing at the top of a spruce right in camp. I even got to teach the Dobler girls a little about birding. Sarah was almost entranced by the thrush as Zoey and I.
Tom and I both tried to get pictures of the thrush. His were most successful, so his are what we are using. If only those birds would hold still while I try all kinds of metering on my camera.
The yurt came with all the camping amenities. It had a wooden bunk bed that slept four, a very efficient wood stove that kept the chill off, and an outhouse. Vivi did not like the door closed, it was too dark for her. She was more than happy to do her business with door open and everyone able to hear her sing.
We spent much time around the camp fire. Zoey let her pyro flag fly. She thrives around the fire. And friendships were cemented around the fire, over marshmallows.
We spent loads of time at the river, too. We had to pump and purify our water from this gorgeous glacier river. And wash our dishes, too. Brrrrrr....
The girls played many games at the river, in the sand and rocks. Zoey and I saw what we think is a wandering tattler there. And a golden-crowned kinglet flew right in front of my face at the river.
One of the most interesting things about the Rapids Camp Yurt was the lichen and moss glades all around us. Vivi took handfuls of moss and played cheerleader (YIKES!).
This lichen glade was like a chapel, inspiring contemplation and quietness, awe and inspiration in the face of such wonders. The amazing little mosses and lichens among these giant fingers of earth's crust.
On Wednesday the Doblers had to hike out. Zoey and Vivi had a few hours without other children. They were sure that they would not make it! Until Sarissa arrived. Zoey and Sarissa are so close, they share so much. They are both homeschooled, they both love to cross country ski and have raced together since they were about five. Sarissa's mom and I went to church together and knew each other in high school (Alaska is a VERY small town). These girls just click.
Tom's cousin, Bob, from Seattle hiked in to bring us some Jelly Bellies. YUM! He was up for a family wedding later in the week (more on that later). He took this lovely picture of Tom and I.
Bob also shot this of the family at the campfire. That hat is hiding a fabulous hair day. This was day three out there!
Tom's dad and brother also walked out that evening. They brought beer and hot dogs. YUMMY! We sat around the fire roasting the hot dogs, visiting. Vivi loves her special guy.
Aren't these some handsome cousins?
The men all walked out later and we snuggled in the yurt for the night as the wind started up.
After breakfast on Thursday I took the girls to the river for one last time. I did the dishes while the girls made Godzillaville over and over again. Each time they found a new and interesting way to destroy it. If I could bottle all the giggles and happiness and save them up..... I hope these girls always remain friends.
We packed up and beat cheeks back to the truck. The girls had to be clean and shiny for the rehearsal dinner that afternoon.
On our way back to the Nature Center we saw our only bear sign of the trip. Some fairly fresh scat on the trail. How do you think Vivi feels about it?
And the best for last.....
Wednesday evening, pumping water, was a harlequin duck hanging at the rapids. He spent lots of time surfing right in front of us. I watched him for at least fifteen minutes.
Thank you Bob Billings for the photo.