Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall to Winter

It was a last chance yesterday, to explore the outdoors before winter's frozen breath left whiteness upon what was brown grasses and tree limbs before. We took a sunny afternoon, fresh with breezes and sharp smells of autumn, and turned it into both a shakedown for the upcoming frigid season and a freebie family day.

One of the things I love most about being a writer in Alaska is the sheer volume of opportunity presented to us. An invitation from the Eagle River Nature Center to visit with naturalists and peruse the 10 miles of trail nestled within Chugach State Park seemed the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon and Yukon was able to join us, so we set off, mittens and hats packed, for the 40 minute drive northeast.

While the rest of the greater Anchorage area was awash in a dusty windstorm sweeping down from the north, the Center seemed immune to the biting breezes and therefore we were spared a bitter windchill. Bear enjoyed looking at the interpretive displays while I chatted with staff and thoroughly entertained the winter caretaking couple from Florida with his stories of adventure.

A short hike to a beaver pond afforded gorgeous views of the lodge, surrounding lake and incredible mountains, and made us once again darn glad we live where we do.

This grandeur was, of course, noticably affected by our son's whining about cold feet, 'frozen' hands (we are entering a delightful phase of natural consequences; he refused to wear his mittens) and a hungry stomach. After taking a few final steps down the original Iditarod trail that leads some 26 miles across Crow Pass towards Girdwood, we turned back to snack on our pretzels and hot russian tea (a favorite drink from my youth made with instant iced tea, Tang, lemonade, and cinnamon, allspice, and cloves).

Not too bad for an inagural hike during the season of change. Bear actually fell asleep in the car on the way home, something that doesn't happen too often anymore. We consider this a successful trip in that regard.

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