Thursday, September 21, 2017

Out to Caines Head: By Paddle and By Foot

Poised at South Beach on Lowell Point, ready to begin our paddle out to Caines Head

 Last week, we had the chance to paddle and hike out to Caines Head State Recreation Area. Our friend, Rachel, from Tallahassee, Florida was visiting for the week and we were able to include two other visitors from the south into the adventure. We used our 18 foot tandem kayak for two of us, and the other three walked out. This allowed us to bring more supplies than we could have / would have carried on our backs, to enjoy the view from the water and gave me a respite from walking the whole way, as I continue to rehabilitate my foot after breaking my fifth metatarsal back in July of this year. We started from South Beach on Lowell Point, three walking the Tonsina Trail, and two of us paddling out to the same beach just south of Tonsina Point. We switched around paddlers at that point and continued out into Resurrection Bay. The day was gloriously precipitation-free and we enjoyed the grandeur that surrounded us. The crucial part about going out to Caines Head is to time the tides right. The last 3 miles out to the cabin is located on the beach, and thus requires a 2.0 or lower foot tide to be above the water line. The low tide was to be at 6:11pm, so we wanted to be walking about an hour before and after that time, to allow us the maximum safety. We did have a back up plan of using the kayak to ferry us around the "pinch points" if necessary, but that would have been annoying and time consuming. Fortunately, that was not necessary.
The Derby Cove cabin, set amidst a rain forest

Upon arrival at Derby Cove, we were amazed at the beauty of the rain forest. The cabin was built on pilings because the ground beneath it was a sopping mess of constant run off. The inside was dry and cozy and smelled faintly of past wood smoke. Lovely! We enjoyed our evening by paddling around the area, going around the rocks to get to the old dock pilings from Fort McGilvry, which was built and staffed during World War 2, to protect Alaska from Japanese attack. We cooked food on our Svea Stove, outside on the metal plate that's part of the counter surface on the front deck. Such a lovely and easy to use set up. We played a board game, read the cabin log book and drifted into deep sleep amidst the darkness.

Evening sunlight with view across Resurrection Bay, while sitting on the beach at Derby Cove

Remains of the WW2 Fort
The next mid day, after consuming a couple of rounds of various foods that we considered breakfast / lunch, we packed up our belongings and set off to hike to the old fort ruins. It was up and down on quite good trail, particularly because we were wearing our xtra tuffs, which protected our feet from the sloppy mud and roots. After half a mile, we found a trail sign that indicated we had made no progress in the day's mileage. 2.5 miles to the fort, still. The scenery was gorgeous, even in the constant trickling rain. On we continued until we got to the super creepy remains of the fort, with an assortment of buildings tucked into the rocky soils. Reed and Rachel loved walking inside of these old structures.We were fortunate to enjoy a break in the rain while eating our snacks at the tip top of the fort area. Porcupine Glacier, across the bay was resplendent in the low light. We wanted to press on, or at least I did, but chose to begin our trek back, because there were many miles to go to get back to Seward, about 7, I think.

All a normal part of our ecosystem: chum salmon spawned out at Caines Head

Later that evening, back in Seward, we turned the Toyo stove on, fired up our propane home stove and delighted in eating hot soup with cheese toast. Yum! A lovely way to finish up a fantastic outing, and one that's located only a few miles from our home. How fortunate we are!

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