Journals, Photos and Videos

Out for a stroll

Almost every location in Kenai (in fact, anywhere rural on the Alaska highway system) is identified by the mileage marker. Wildman’s is at mile marker 47 1/2 on the Sterling Highway, Pink Mountain is mile marker 140 on the Alaska Highway and Soldotna where we are were tentatively headed for is about mile marker 84. On our way we decided to stop at Russian River Campground at mile marker 52. There’s a trail that will take you to the Russian River Falls if you up to the 2.3 mile trek. So - what the heck - let’s check this out.

This is where the bears come salmon fishing. Ever see one of the pictures with the bears in the water with a salmon in its mouth? Chances are that the picture may have been taken here at the Russian River Falls.

The hiker is strongly warned of bears, but it’s a popular trail and very highly praised. Additionally, this falls is a must see when the salmon start running in a couple of weeks. The salmon climb the falls to the spawning pools upstream. Our still and movie cameras are ready for the event. We are trying to figure out how to get to the bottom of the falls for better pictures as the route we took is from quite a distance above the falls.

Maureen hasn’t had the opportunity to do much walking lately, so we were prepared to do about a mile of the walk and work up for the complete hike in June. It was around 11:30 when we started the hike. Maureen thought we were walking on a nice flat, smooth boardwalk around the Russian River.
The trail is excellent, the scenery is awesome (of course) and the first 3/4 of the hike is primarily up hill! In fact, the altitude rise is 1,160 feet. Maureen kept on truckin’ and, by the time we reached 1 1/2 miles, we were committed to complete the hike.

Alas, more hills and rugged trail, a far cry from the flat, smooth boardwalk! The boardwalk.......a hike for another day.

We could now hear water flowing and see some of the Russian River through the trees and followed the sign that says .6 mile to the falls which is generally downhill and follows the rushing Russian River.
Soon, we could hear the sound of the falls and then we saw 2 observation platforms about 50 feet above the river. The falls is not spectacularly high, but is long, tumbling and a rolling rush of water.
Between the pictures and the video, you should be able to get an appreciation of the sight. Now imagine what the spawning salmon are going to look like. By the way, these poor salmon are going to be targeted by fishermen and bears just to get to the falls.

Along the trail we ran into a couple from Waukesha, Wisconsin who were also here in Cooper Landing to work at the Alaska Wildland Adventure company for the summer. A bit down the path we also encountered another couple from the lower 48 and they were from Colorado Springs! We did not pass many people on the trail so the odds were pretty remarkable that we met 2 couples from places we have lived.

The return trek was a bit painful but not bad. When we reached the truck, we had gone 4.73 miles and felt pretty good about ourselves! The whole hike took about 4 hours, including about 45 minutes at the falls. As for wildlife? I saw a squirrel.
Angus made the trip with us but he did not anticipate a 4.75 mile trek either so when he reached the truck, he climbed into the back and relaxed!

We saw many, many patches of “fur” tangled in branches which were broken off the trees
. We were certain the place was crawling with bears who broke the branches and lost the fur as they dashed through the woods to head for the river or any place they could find food. So, we took pictures so we could have Gwenan identify the “fur” and the type of tree in which we saw it......when I happened to look up high in a tree to take a picture and saw the “fur” all the way at the top. Either the bears here are HUMUNGOUS or we were be the judge!!!

We crossed Soldotna off the list since it was so late in the day and we all felt like Angus and opted to go back “home”. One of our co-workers, Chad, performs at the Sunrise Inn a few miles down the road so we decided to drive there and find the Inn before we went back to the RV. After about 3 miles, we pulled into a parking area to turn around. There were 3 other vehicles in the lot with a couple of men with spotting scopes and binoculars staring at the mountains on the north side of the highway. One of the guys came over and told us that there was a group of mountain goats and another of Dall sheep.

Of course we hopped out of the truck with all of our gear and tracked them down. It is pretty amazing to watch these incredible animals hop around in this precarious environment.

It was a great day.