Thursday, August 26, 2010

Midnight Munchies

Alaska finally has a sunset again. This was last week one night around 10:30 pm taken off my back deck. About 1 hour and 45 minutes later it was dark, completely dark. Finally, darkness at night and cooler temps. Both of these returning make for a much happier Moosekahl.

I have been tending my garden somewhat tenderly throughout the summer. I admit to neglecting it at times and I lost some spinach b/c of that. If you don't pick it while leaves are ready it will bolt. My bolted while I was in MT. I had a few things that aren't doing as I thought they would...cucumbers and red peppers. I can handle those things. Ruby likes to eat at the grass but she leaves the garden beds alone.

Remember the pretty Romanesco? Any form of cauliflower is a absolute favorite moose food. The temps at night have been getting cooler, which means moose are moving down from higher altitudes. My moose is back. Haven't seen it yet but it's been here. Can you tell how I know?

The moose likes the leaves of kohlrobi but doesn't like the veggie. Those are teeth marks!

This moose LOVED the Romanesco but didn't even nimble that pumpkin plant.

This moose really likes Kale. So much for kale in my Zuppa Toscana.

This moose left evidence behind.

Definitely not dog prints!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Becoming an Outdoor Woman....2010

I was encouraged by several friends who have participated in the past to attend the Becoming an Outdoor Woman weekend sponsored by the Department of Game and Fish. I thought about it and decided it was a great way to spend a weekend. The weekend includes four workshop times with a very long list of class options. I was given a very nice backpack for a going away gift and while I have used it to travel I haven't actually tried packing everything I need in it to hike somewhere and spend a night. The first class I signed up for was Backpacking which included a lecture to cover gear and how to pack it as well as a hike and then a night in the woods, not at a campsite with "amenities".

Our instructors covered gear, food, training and more for us before we hit the trail. This was our trail buddy, Tessa. She was super excited she got to come along. Can you tell?

The original plan was to hike to a place called Inspiration Point. However, our instructors summed up the class and decided it might take be better to go to a place called Mitchell Point which was not quite as steep as the other hike. It was still a stunning view of the Tanana River Valley! I had to take a couple pictures looking over the edge just for Dad. He always worries about me in the high places I like to go to.

My pack was somewhere between 40 and 50 lbs full but I made it and actually felt pretty good. I also enjoyed it so I think I can get into this with a little more practice and a lot of training.
We hiked back off of Mitchell Point and then went even further down the hillside and into a clearing to make camp for the night. No maintained campsite, no platform. Just find a spot, smoosh the vegetation down a bit and make it home. It was actually really comfortable to have a bit of insulation and brush underneath the floor of the tent. I ended up sleeping like a log. I don't think I woke up once in the night.

The biggest challenge backpacking is cooking and eating. I had no idea where to start with that. We got to use various portable cooking devices like the JetBoil, PocketRocket, and Whisper light to heat water to add to Mountain House backpacking meals. The meals are good but they have some drawbacks. Each package is 2 servings so you either eat it all or have to pack out your garbage. Also some of them had really high sodium content. Overall, they tasted good though. I had Chicken and Rice and then we also made a raspberry crumble to share.

Our instructors had actually left some supplies at our campsite prior to us getting there so we were able to try out a few other things which might not be practical when backpacking but are definitely doable when car camping. Banana boats are a Girl Scout treat....Slice one unpeeled banana to make a slit. Stuff the slit with marshmellows and chocolate chips. Wrap in foil and throw in the fire. Very yummy. A few others tried coconut macaroons. Stuff a piece of chocolate inside a piece of french bread. Dip it in sweetened condensed milk and roll in coconut. Again, roast over fire and enjoy!

I had chosen to have a campsite for the weekend b/c it was $25 cheaper and then that money covered the $10 rental for my next class, Rappelling. Because of this, I was up at 6:00 am , broke camp, repacked the backpack and hiked out of camp to go back to the main area and set up my tent again at my designated camp site for the rest of the weekend. This was my road out at about 6:20 in the morning. I was hiked out, reset up, and to breakfast at the mess hall by 7:10 am! Not a bad start. How come it's never that easy to get up and moving on a Monday morning when it's work you are headed to?

I had three more classes ahead of me and the stories will follow. We were at Lost Lake Boy Scout Camp which was a phenomenal site with wild flowers, berries, peaks, rivers, and a lake to enjoy. I truly love where I live.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HNT...Home away from home

I have had a wonderful home away from home on my camping adventures. And it won't be an adventure if I didn't take pictures to share!

I have absolutely no idea how this picture happened but I didn't delete it b/c after looking at it I liked the "creepy" factor to it. This was night two at the Becoming an Outdoor Woman weekend. I was in my tent and asleep by 9 pm! I was beat! You can see the bags under my eyes even in this crazy shot!
I am loving my Eureka two person tent. I just need to figure out a few more weekends to use it yet this summer!
I'm tucked in for the night without the dog on this trip. Makes for a lot more room plus I only had a #50 backpack so not a lot of space to haul extras. I slept like a log this night though. And yes, you can still tell how chewed up my ankles are from the prior weekend plus all the new ones.
Happy HNT!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Taylor Mountain Caribou

The evening on top of Taylor Mountain is up there with the Iditarod on my Alaska experiences. The view was amazing and it was the first time I have seen more than one or two wild caribou at a time. Well worth the drive up the trail road to get there. Taylor Mountain is off of the Taylor Highway just south of Chicken, AK.

This was just one example of the enormous bull caribou walking next to the truck.
There they go.

Just beautiful!I could have sat all night watching this group.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

WOW! BOW is amazing

I had a phenomenal weekend at the Department of Game and Fish Becoming an Outdoor Woman course. There will be plenty more to follow in terms of pictures and I have more from last weekend's Chicken trip too. However, I'm beat and am going to head to bed very soon. This was a shot from my Rappelling course. I think I have a new hobby!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Chicken, AK

Last weekend was time for another Alaska adventure. I had been on call for two weeks in a row and in one week saw nearly 100 patients. R&R was much needed. This summer's to do list included Chicken, AK and Valdez, AK. Chicken was the most inexpensive of these options so Chicken it was. Ruby and I left Fairbanks at 2:00 Friday afternoon.

Chicken, AK is 276 miles down the road from Fairbanks, north of the AlCan Highway. It is a former mining town home to around 400 people at it's peak. It was made famous in the book "Tisha" about a school teacher who went to work doing her best with the miner's children. Her school house still stands. The rest of the area is now a tourist attraction on the Taylor Highway as one heads north to Dawson Creek, Yukon Territory, Canada, home of the Klondike Gold Rush and tales by Jack London.

If one lives in a town called Chicken, one must have a sense of humor. The community was named as such after locals wished to name the community after the main food source, "Ptarmigan". Ptarmigan are a small grouse like bird which cooks up similar to grouse or pheasant. However, the locals could not come to agreement on how to spell Ptarmigan and settled for "Chicken". Chicken it has remained.

I have a new backcountry tent and a friend helped me find the perfect riverbank camp site.The river noise drowned out anything else and I was below the main bank so no one could see me. The morning view out the door was gorgeous.

On Saturday morning I began a side trip to Boundary, AK which continued on to the Canadian border. It was only an additional 45 miles. The landscape was awe inspiring. I had no clue this mountain range existed. The area is home to the Yukon-Charley River National Preserve. The entire area around Chicken is crisscrossed by rivers feeding into the Yukon. In fact, for the last several weeks most of this gravel highway has been closed to travel secondary to severe flooding and washed out roads.

The area doesn't have a lot of trees once you get high up but the wild plants are still abundant.

This is the gas station at Boundary. Sometimes there is gas and sometimes there isn't. George, a "local" originally from New Jersey operates a catch me all store that includes a cafe, a few spare parts, gas, and coffee.

This is one of the old original cabins of the area.

George directed me to Davis Dome. In former years thousands of caribou called this area home. It is miles and miles of rolling hills covered in tundra brush, cranberries, blueberries, and forget-me-nots. Ruby and I called it a good spot for lunch. The absolute quiet is mind boggling. It reaches a spot in your soul that doesn't get touched very often.

After a day of exploring along the road, Ruby and I tried our hand at gold panning. I sat along the river swishing and draining for an hour and a half without much luck. It was nice to sit and do a mostly mindless task while sitting in the sun along a bubbling stream though.

This is downtown Chicken. Local Sue runs the Emporium, Liquor Store, Saloon, and Cafe. If you are looking for a wide selection of Alaska books, this is where to stop. She has a wonderful collection and she is featured on her own post card too! Signs of the gold rush remain. An old gold dredge sits along one of the rivers. Many come in the summer to pan and there are even a few fully operational dredges elsewhere along the river.

Mosquito Fork was home for the weekend but camping elsewhere would have done nothing to decrease the level of bugs. I think the locals should have named the community "Fly" when they failed to spell "Mosquito".

Before a nice lunch Ruby and I went to the Post Office to mail a few postcards. Robyn is the local post mistress and while I heard a lot about here I didn't get to meet her since I stopped in on Sunday.

This was great weekend and I have more to share. I got to see migrating caribou and have more amazing pictures of rolling mountains. Ruby had just as big of an adventure. Ten miles before getting to Chicken she jumped out of the window at 35 mph and got herself a bit of road rash. She played hardcore though and ten miles out of town on the way home I could hear her snoring from the back seat. That's one tuckered woofer!