By Janelle Eklund
It rained off and on in the night but we woke to a pretty nice day. Broken clouds gave promise to sun later on. The clouds and mountains weren’t playing so hard with each other today.
Oatmeal for breakfast and then headed up to Frederika Creek at 9:10 am. About a half mile from camp we saw two fox kits rolling around with each other close to their den. The den was a cave like hole carved out from under a large willow. Momma fox sat nearby watching and keeping a wary eye on us.
We crossed a couple dry drainages and then one with enough water that we had to walk up stream to find a place to cross. After rock hopping across and getting back up on the sloping tundra we ran into the trail we were looking for. It led us up the side of the mountains and across drainages high above Skolai Creek. Skolai Creek cut through a very narrow canyon that acted like a chute. Water that seemed so calm all of a sudden was in a frantic hurry rushing into this tiny channel that ended abruptly into nothingness. Great masses of water shot out and dove to the bottom of a cliff where it once again spread out and became calmer.
Sheer giant walls of mountains towered above. Glaciers capped their peaks spilling white and clinging to thousands of vertical feet of rock. Summer warmth stole a part of the ice turning it into weeping cascades. Droplet after droplet fell to form a creek below.
Ahead, to the west, Nizina Glacier loomed in its giant white ruggedness. Wild flowers dotted the hillside - monkshood, dwarf fireweed, bistort, electric blue forget-me-nots, yellow groundsel, purple geranium, yellow cinquefoil, gentian and many others.
The trail took us down to Frederika Creek drainage. We found an old cabin and had lunch there. It was in sad shape. As we headed back up the trail the sun showered us with its warmth. Stopped a couple times to rest, enjoy the warmth and the view. It doesn’t get any better than this. Our legs and feet felt the ache of the hike by the time we got back to camp - about 12 miles round trip.
My homemade dried spaghetti for dinner, which turned out to be pretty tasty. It seems to take a long time to re-hydrate food at this altitude. What a wonderful day. Wind always seems a little chilly but we can handle it. We saw a bunch of different birds - fly catcher, scoter ducks, gulls, semi-palmated plover, magpie, white crowned sparrow (juvenile).
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.