By Janelle Eklund
We have been so blessed with these beautiful clear days. I woke at 5:30 and enjoyed laying there awake for another hour stretching and waiting for the sun to make its appearance. It finally beckoned so I sat on the knoll down from the tent and welcomed the morning sun as it rose over the ridge. I breathed deep breaths of beauty and silence until a ground squirrel started chattering at me several feet away. I continued to sit very still and he eventually stopped chattering. He just watched me as though he was trying to figure out this non-threatening creature so foreign to his home.
We broke camp and got everything ready to go for our flight out later in the day. The valley floor was our last area to survey and discover the microcosm of life on wet vegetation. It's the same place we saw the horses a couple days ago. On our way down I smelled forest fire smoke and then saw the haze coming into the valley.
We traversed the hillside below camp surveying plants, then dropped down to a wetland and Carl Creek. We found a yellow and a white flower that Mary collected to key out. We greeted many different plants than what we had been visiting with on the rocky slopes above. Water seeped out of the hillside and braided into grassy areas fingering into many rivulets. We saw five inch fish in the water. Leaping across the rivulets we made our way to Carl Creek - a beautiful place to have lunch. First things first though. We stripped off our sweaty clothes and lay in the cool clear water. Its icy grip held us only a short time before we leaped out. Mary had forgot her lunch at camp but I had more than enough to share. As we sat in the hot sun we had quite the picnic of almond butter, chutney, beef jerky, carrots, orange, nuts, and trail bars. We found a new taste sensation with beef jerky and almond butter.
Before leaving we anointed ourselves a couple more times in Carl Creek and then took a group picture of us looking at flowers through the hand lens. As we walked up the drainage we got real sweaty and hot. The creek was calling our name again so we stripped and sat in a nice pool. We filled our water bottles at the cold clear spring emerging from the hillside near the creek.
Not long after we returned to our gear the helicopter landed to pick us up. It was a beautiful flight back to Devil Mt. and the Nabesna Road. We couldn’t find the car keys and ended up spending the night at Ellis’. A makeshift slim jim couldn’t even open the doors. Mary thought she might have dropped them on the ground a few days ago when we arrived. We speculated on a curious Raven taking them - attracted to their shine - or just playing a trick on us? Hah! They are intelligent creatures.
Paul and Jim came the next day to rescue us with the spare set of car keys. Our adventure continued down the Nabesna Road. The hot days are melting the glaciers spilling the release of ancient frozen water into the creeks. Swollen waterways flowed across the Nabesna Road. The guys had to hook the car to the truck and pull it through one deep channel.
A very fine trip with wonderful company, beautiful days, and awesome scenery.
From my light to yours-
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.