Thursday, September 20, 2012

cabin camping adventure

Anchorage had one hurricane-force wind event under its belt and another on its way. Was that gonna stop us? Hmm. The Divas are tough, but not reckless. We each considered our personal situations, our abilities, equipment and comfort level. Some made the very reasonable decision to pass on the outing. Others decided that we were not going to let the weather stop us. Besides, we’d rented the cabin!

Maggi, Jo-Ann, Michele, Linda, Gloria & Cecelia. Warm and dry.

So, last Friday morning six Dirt Divas: Jo-Ann, Gloria, Michele, Linda H, Cecelia and Maggi, met at Gloria’s house and started loading up gear in the rain for the annual cabin weekend at Eklutna Lake’s Serenity Cabin. Being the professional planner of the group, I had called Ranger Keith to check on conditions. Things were good, he said, “But after Saturday, all bets are off!” We put the rain gear within reach and took off.

The twelve-mile ride in was good. Though the skies were gloomy, there was no real wind or rain. And the temperatures were warm, relatively. Along the way, we met our delivery guy who was hauling our firewood and other bulky supplies. He was worried we didn’t have enough wine this year. We assured him that with the small group and only two nights instead of three, we had just enough. Same with the wood. The water? Well, we had more than enough of that!! If we had needed to, we could have just put a pot outside to catch more. Except the wind would have blown it away!

The nights were pretty windy, making sleep fitful for most of us. Okay, the days were windy too! On Saturday we took advantage of some slightly calmer weather to walk toward the glacier. Gloria took advantage of the quiet to do some reading. No bad choices.

Late Saturday afternoon, we saw two young men biking on the other side of the river. They didn’t seem to have much gear and one was in a tee-shirt. Michele kept an eye out for their return. She didn’t see them until much later when one of them took a fall. Certain they were in need, the five mothers of the group pulled on our rain gear and ran out to save them. I think we actually scared them. Poor guys! Think of it, five moms running out to make sure you had your raincoat on and a snack in your backpack! Turns out, they only wanted to use the outhouse.

After dinner, Michele herded us out into the pelting, wind-driven rain for a 10-minute walk to aid digestion. Kind of a tradition for our Eklutna weekend. But this time, instead of a long, wandering stroll, we turned around at exactly five minutes.

Sometime Saturday night we noticed rainwater pooling on the windowsills beneath the large windows that face the falls and the glacier. We tried our best to keep it contained, but by mid-morning Sunday, Serenity Falls had moved indoors, dripping from the highest windows, down the walls, across the benches and onto the floor. It’s gonna be a real mess to take care of.
Next time, pack caulk! A little wet inside the cabin.

About the same time, we realized that the wind was getting worse, not better. The calculations began: What time did we need to leave in the morning? Would things calm down by then? We got everything packed and cleaned so that we could leave as soon as possible. Around noon we made the call. We would take off and stick close together in case we needed all hands for downed trees and other challenges. As we stood on the front porch a wild gust blew in and we wavered momentarily. When the wind paused, we bolted for the bikes. By the time we got to the outhouse, (maybe fifty feet down a short hill) my gloves were soaked through. Oh well, just keep going.

The crew riding back to the trailhead.

Cecelia's first bike overnight trip (on her new ride!), Jo-Ann and Michele.

The way out was a bit more adventurous than the ride in: a boulder had rolled from a high cliff onto the wide trail; three downed trees were across the trail (only one required branch removal and lift-over); puddles were big enough to warrant a ferry; winds buffeted fully-loaded mountain bikes like they were $6K road bikes ridden by willowy racing chicks, trails threatened to join the lake and the rain was truly dumping. Yeah! It was good.


That wasn't there on the way out!
There may always be a puddle here, but not like this!

We finally arrived at the parking lot where we were wringing out gloves and scooping handfuls of silty mud from our panniers when Ranger Keith drove up. He was quite pleased to see us. After we gave him a to-do list for the cabin and trail, and got his email for photos, he declared us “Really tough.” I agreed, then quickly headed to the outhouse to change into dry clothes.

As always, the food for our outing was delicious and plentiful. The company was wonderful and the adventure was fun and successful. Thank you, Jo-Ann, for your planning and shopping. Thanks, Linda, for those brownies! And bless you, Cecelia, (on your first bike camping experience) for getting up first and making coffee and tea water! Another great Diva weekend at Serenity Falls cabin!

Maggi "Biking is fun!"

Post written and illustrated by Maggi.


corinne said...

you are 6 tough chicks! i feel like a weenie ... but being home and dry had its plus sides, too. Thanks for telling the story, Maggi.

M├Ągi said...

Oh man. This look so fine! Almost makes me wish that I was with you guys instead of Haines.