Over the last 5-10 minutes my 'delete' button has suffered some serious erosion- the result of too many fruitless attempts to excitingly begin this blog entry. How's that work for a hook..eh? Not so hot?
Well, you'll just have to take my sincere recomendation in continuing to read this entry because the peppermint tea I'm sipping is succeeding in drawing some sass to the surface which should result in at least some mildly entertaining blogging, … well, in all seriousness, over this past three day backpacking trip (now in the distant past- I've been busy out in the field on a number of projects and am just now finding time to write), Kruzof Island stole about 5% of my heart.. so it should be worth at least .12% of your time.
Oh- and I fell chest deep into a bog.. that just might be the deal breaker in inspiring you to keep reading.
SO, I am living in the city of Sitka (the 5th largest city in Alaska which is remarkable considering it takes about 8 minutes to drive the entirety of Sitka's road system). Anywho, Sitka is nestled within the largely uninhabited wilderness that is Baranof Island. Kruzof is a neighboring island and home to Mt. Edgecumbe-the large dormant volcano often visible from town (when it's not pouring rain or mysteriously misty). Kruzof is actually home to a unique volcanic field consisting of several dormant spots- this whole area really is a geologist's wet dream.
I spent three days backpacking the island with Natalia, Adam (a colleague at SCS), and Stacey (Natalia and my superb and wonderful mentor). Although we spent a portion of time on a trail-system, the majority of the trip was spent traversing through untamed forest, beach, river, and muskeg terrain. What is a muskeg you ask? A muskeg is essentially a bog characterized by thick spongey sphagnum moss, eerie twisted dead trees and… flarks. What is a flark you now ask? Well I can share with you what I know from abnormally intimate experience with the infamous flark.
Well here's the deal, I love being naked. More specifically: unclothed in nature. Blame my parents for letting me romp around forests and gardens naked as a tot and call me a dirty hippy if you'd like but, but letting your hair down, shedding clothes and allowing the overwhelming beauty of nature to permeate directory through the skin and soak you to the bone is an exhilarating hobby of mine. If you haven't tried it- do it (but do be mindful of your audience). Speaking of audience, this suppressed hobby of mine can be difficult to carry out in certain situations- hiking with a supervisor and colleagues for one. For that very reason, I crafted a deviously clever plan….. 'falling' chest deep into a particularly deep 'flark'. Flarks are the pools of stagnant water found in muskeg.
Okay, okay, so maybe it was actually more my klutziness than wanting to pause the hike and strip… drip drying in beautiful alaskan wilderness was just a welcomed plus. Thankfully, I of course packed a change of clothes and carefully utilized dry bags within my pack to protect sensitive gear (clothes, sleeping bag, and camera equipment).
Kruzof is truly a unique and mind-blowingly ravishing gem of American land. Like much of the land here in the Southeast, Kruzof is publicly owned. That means you and I and Obama share ownership of this beautiful place and are thus endowed responsibility for protecting, caring for, and enjoying it. It also means we can bushwhack off the trail, set up a tent where we'd like, and (responsibly of course) cook our dinner and sizzle the wet out of our socks by a fire made from drift wood.
Experiences like these tangle my thoughts in knots as I try to truly grasp how lucky I am. Gazing into a volcanic valley, sharing narratives by the fire with sincere and truly great people, just experiencing the Tongass National Forest...my life is pretty great (I hope I'm coming off as grateful, appreciative, and humble rather than braggy). I also hope that by the end of my stay here in the Southeast I will have inspired at least one reader out there to pack his/her bags and experience Alaska for themselves.
I return to Kruzof for a day trip this Sunday and can not wait to check out a new area of Kruzof famous for a great surf, sea lions, and brown bear. I will also be putting together a more extensive and cohesive piece of Kruzof for publication (hopefully) in a few different spots- stay tuned!
Click the above images to enlarge and mind the slideshow navigation buttons below
Listening to: Love Song #1- The White Buffalo (pulling the Antarctic heart strings) & losing a staring contest with Harry Potter (one of by boss Andrew's schnauzers)