Autumn Camp - The Irish Eye

     Our United States Forest Service owns dozens of cabins throughout Southeast Alaska that are available for rent. They are generally very small, rustic shelters with a few wood bunks, a wood or an oil stove, and a nearby outhouse. You can rent the cabin up to six months in advance, which is how we got this particular one. The commercial Shrimp season opens on October 1st and the area we were camping in has a great shrimp population (They aren't actually shrimp, they're prawns; similar in appearance but they're different animals. You cook them exactly the same way you cook shrimp. The biggest difference is that prawns taste so much better). So it would be a late September camping trip.

      Six months ago we had planned on five of our kids, our two sons-in-law, two grand-kids and five dogs attending this trip. Work and obligations whittled that down to me and my daughter and her two boys leaving on Wednesday. Her husband and my boys would join us Thursday and I would return to town to get my wife on Friday.

     As we prepared for the trip the weather forecast was not good. We were leaving on Wednesday afternoon, the forecast was for heavy rain and fifty mile-per-hour winds Wednesday night through Thursday. Wednesday morning was beautiful. Right up until the time we left we contemplated postponing our departure. The weather held so we made the fifty mile trek to the cabin, stopping nearby to deploy our shrimp pots and crab pots. After arriving at the cabin we unloaded our supplies and I tied the boat to the mooring buoy and rowed our raft ashore. There were amazing stars that night. The clouds were rolling in but we could see so many stars. I was so lost in them, I didn't even think to take a picture.

     Thursday morning found the storm on top of us. It was blowing hard and raining in sheets. We got the fire going in the wood-stove and planned to keep to the cabin all day. After breakfast Becky broke out some games and we played with the boys. They're a rowdy pair of youngsters, their mom did a great job keeping them entertained in that tight space. Shortly before lunch the boys lamented the absence of their father. This was their first camping trip without him and he is great fun at camp.        My son-in-law is a born and raised Sitkan, a native Alaskan with great wilderness skills – skills he works hard to pass on to his children.  He was supposed to arrive that day but I forewarned the boys that he might wait out the weather and wouldn't make it until the following day. Ten minutes later we heard the engine. The storm had pretty much blown itself out in town so he picked up my boys and made the run, with only the last ten miles being rough. It was a happy moment on a damp day. We got his boat unloaded and started a campfire in the storm.

     There are very few people I would make the one hundred mile round trip to town for, my wife is at the top of the list. Not just because I love her, but because she makes these trips special. She always creates some type of adventure for the kids. Whether its collecting shells, rocks and sea glass, or clam digging its more fun when my wife is around. This trip it would be stargazing. About halfway to town I had a great treat: I spied a doe and a fawn swimming across the channel. I had to stop and watch them until they swam to shore and walked off into the woods.

     Another storm blew in on Saturday. It wasn't the raucous blow we had on Thursday, so we felt safe enough to check our crab pots. When we pulled our traps on Saturday afternoon we had a sweet surprise, our friend Bob and his son Luke were anchored in the cove where our pots were. We had a quick visit and invited them to our camp. Upon our return we had another great surprise. My son Dan went for a hunt with his uncle and got his first deer. We had an awesome evening around the fire with friends, family and a feast of crab and venison.     

     After breakfast Sunday we broke camp early. We pulled our gear and headed back to civilization.

Swimmers

Swimmers