Cal's life,  United States of America

Alaska 2.0: A Summer on Skilak Lake

Hey friend,

Let’s talk about my summer. Well… To be honest, summer is a big word. We got about 10 days of sunshine. Total.

After doing the winter in Girdwood, I moved to the Kenai Backcountry Lodge on Skilak Lake. I worked there as a hospitality agent and natural history guide for Alaska Wildland Adventures. Morning dishes in music, dinner dishes in debate. Is a straw a hole? Is it creepy to say a 17-year old person is cute? Is the bed corner better folded from the bottom or the top? Does emo just mean emotional or is it a specific style of clothing and music? Are the Lumineers really worth listening to every night? How burned do you like your marshmallows? That is to say, we only had top-priority debates.

I also got to learn from amazing people about the wildlife, flowers, and trees of the Kenai Wildlife Refuge. We lived among cottonwoods with their fireproof armor-like bark, aspens that reflected the light of sunsets through their leaves, and devil’s club which you don’t want to touch but has so many medicinal purposes.



We saw flowers bloom on hills and around trails: white dwarf dogwood, red western columbines, blue forget-me-nots, Bordeaux chocolate lilies, purple subalpine lupines, and monkshood. And after the flowers, came the berries: crowberries, watermelon berries, blueberries, lingonberries, elderberries, … So many different tastes and shapes. How nice it is to recognize them, debate which is which, before filling up our mouths and Nalgenes.

I met really outdoorsy and adventurous individuals. We floated on the Kenai River, backpacked to Skilak Lake Glacier, crossed Resurrection Pass, went up Crow creek trail, camped at Symphony Lake, hiked to Exit Glacier, paddled Skilak Lake, guided Cottonwood Creek trail, and enjoyed great sunsets. Some were part of work, some were off work, but all were so much fun.

Living in Alaska in the summer is also when you realise wildlife rules here. There are more bears than people, so you learn how to use bear canisters and bear spray. You speak loud and clap your hands on hikes. You learn porcupines do not shoot their spines, spruce grouse is best at scaring the hell out of you, and salmons are badass survivors who turn zombies by the end of the summer. You start recognizing how much a baby bear has grown throughout the summer and enjoy seeing their poop full of berries.


All of this to say, I had a great summer, and what a place to be outside and learn about the earth !


Thank you to Kate, Trevor, Luke major, Luke minor, Brock, Claire, C’Whit, Assman Whitney, Osha, Tracy, and Spencer for being great. Thank you for all the AWA crew for the fun and support.






PS : Coming back with six salmons on your first outing is great. But it is a horrible thank you gift to families who get 90 at once.

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