Day 66 – August 17th – Arrival on the Kenai
Somehow we had figured that we had were about to leave dramatic scenery and lofty mountains behind us on a peninsula. Wrong. If anything the mountains on the Kenai were the most impressive we had seen yet (save for Mt. McKinley – and the ever-present clouds prevented us from ever truly experiencing its grandeur). The Kenai (pronounced “kee-nigh” with the accent on the “kee”) has glacier packed ranges which spring up right out of the ocean. The rain that had been with us since the trip on the Dalton still hung on with only occasional breaks as we drove toward the peninsula from Anchorage.
Working from a base camp at Bertha Creek Campground, we would spend six days here – exploring several areas including Seward and Kenai Fiords National Park.
A few days later the skies brightened and the clouds lifted a bit so we headed across peninsula through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to the towns of Soldotna and Kenai on the other side of the peninsula. (There was also a most excellent craft brewery reported to be in Kenai – Kassik’s Brewery).
We got the sense that the Kenai can be a busy playground for the folks from Anchorage, but things quieted down after the weekend…plus it is getting late in the season. We enjoyed our Kenai experiences in spite of the weather, which, we understand from the locals is rainy more often than not. One of our more memorable moments was a (very) brisk walk through pouring rain to see Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fiords National Park. It would take a whole day to dry out our shoes, but it was worth it…
The other most memorable moment was seeing THE MOST INTENSE RAINBOW that either of us had ever seen. EVER. Like in or whole lives EVER. We were on the road and saw this kind of faint rainbow which we had just begun to talk about when, BAM, we came around a curve and saw the main part of the rainbow (we were only looking at the secondary). We were nearly as awestruck as “double rainbow dude”. We just couldn’t help ourselves…
Between forays out to various locations we did some more sluicing and panning – as our campsite was conveniently located along Granite Creek, where we were allowed to pan for gold. It was hard work though, and for very small flakes. This may be the last spot where we can take the time to do this activity on this particular trip. Even at $1800.00/ounce this is hard work and it gives us pause to think what the original Alaska Gold Rush Pioneers endured to get their gold. For all of our efforts we have learned a great deal and have about a smidgen of gold. In summary, we figure that we have been to “Gold College” and have just graduated our freshman year with a “Gentleman’s C”.