Trails and Brews
~Tuesday, August 23, 2022~
Day 8️⃣0️⃣0️⃣!! What??
Day 64 of Alaska Trip
Hard to believe we’ve been on this adventure for 800 days (a little over 26 months). And I’m sure we have over 800 reasons why this trip has been so phenomenal. For those of you reading this, some of whom have been with us ever since Day 1, we thank you so much for being a part of “the ride”. I wonder what the next 100 days will bring? Well, we know half of them will be spent far north until we start heading to the Lower 48.
Since many of the adventurous, more difficult trails we wanted to hike are closed due to landslides and dangerous wildlife 😳activity , we are having to find ones that are a bit more tame and relaxing. The Horseshoe Lake Trail is in the top 10 so we decided to give it a try. In the past few days, we’ve noticed it is strange to see quite a number of hikers walking alongside the railroad tracks near the park entrance. Now we know why…..from the parking lots, it’s the only way to the trailhead for Horseshoe. This easy 3-mile out/back trail starts with a slight uphill, then a pretty gradual downhill to Horseshoe Lake, so we knew the return trip would be a good, heart-pumping good time.
Because of its easy rating, we knew the trail would be a busy one, but it wasn’t overly so. The scenery to the lake was beautiful, and the shallow lake, peaceful. Much of the lake has been created by several visible beaver dams with no beaver sightings today. Man, what destructive, yet brilliant animals they are. They really know how to create a structure. We even spotted a few of their dens in the distance. As we continued our way around the lake, we could see many a fallen tree that they had munched away at,
then thought too big to haul away. Maybe they take it down to get to the branches? Eventually we came to the 140-mile Nenana River. Very silty, this glacial river forms the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and is one of the reasons tourists come for a Class III and the occasional Class IV rafting experience. Getting closer to the end of our hike we could hear the Alaska train, ultimately seeing it on the ridge above the trail, heading towards Fairbanks.
Somehow, I managed to think I was deserving of a Halibut Fish ‘n Chips dinner. Jeff had noticed another 49th State Brewing location in Healy yesterday and couldn’t wait to compare it to the one we’d recently been to in Anchorage. The place was hoppin’ with its more rustic, backroads country vibe. The one in Anchorage has a more sleek, metro feel. We were able to grab an outside table though the weather wasn’t being very cooperative as the sun hid behind a big mass of clouds. As long as the wind kept down, we were fine. In their “beer garden” as they call it, the big attraction is the “Magic Bus” used in the film “Into the Wild”.
The real bus, known as “Bus 142” was airlifted from its location in the Denali wilderness back in 2020 as it became a dangerous pilgrimage site for many curious hikers. Two have died and 15 others severely injured due to treacherous river crossings. The University of Alaska (UA) has become the repository for Bus 142. You can see what it took to relocate the “home” for Christopher McCandless to its final resting place at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMU2CqdZcU4. The story of Christopher McCandless goes something like this….a privileged man decides just after his college graduation, to go after a life of existential meaning, making very poor decisions along the way. In his 4-month journey of living off the land in Alaska, he seeks shelter in an abandoned school bus near Denali National Park. Eventually, not having enough food to sustain himself, he succumbs to starvation, likely by being poisoned by the very plants or seeds he thought would carry him through. It was a bit eerie being inside this replica of a bus, seeing the many diary entries and photos he’d taken of his struggles, bringing to life only what we’d read about previously in the national bestseller or seen on screen. Such a tragedy and so young.
As the weather grew even colder and we’re watching all the delicious stuff coming out of the kitchen, we decided to get some grub there as well, but inside. Sitting in the bar area, we were quite enamored with the tree wall behind the bar……..a row of evenly sized cottonwood trees. Hmmm…noted for our next house maybe in a master bedroom or dining room. Jeff has now found a beer that ties with his other favorite from Charleston, South Carolina……the Sourdough Spaceport New England Hazy IPA. My fish and chips and raspberry mojito were just as amazing as last time in Anchorage. Jeff had the Bison Meatloaf on top of Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sadie had the pleasure of nibbling on a few dog treats offered by the hostess. And to think we were only stopping for beer? A paper coaster on our table was a simple reminder about how amazing this Alaska adventure has been so far….. “Alaska isn’t about who you were when you came this way. It’s about who you become.”-by Kirstin Hannah. Very accurate.
It was the clearest evening we’d seen in a long time. So much so, it was tempting to take the 30-minute drive to see if Denali was making her appearance. But it can wait as we’ll have 2 more chances to see her on our drive to Talkeetna then up to Fairbanks. By the time there was enough darkness, I double checked the skies to see if there was even the slightest hint of The Northern Lights (the Aurora Borealis). It wasn’t in the cards for tonight, but we’re certainly counting on seeing it before leaving Alaska. But the most special treat for the evening was getting to talk to our daughter Hannah, Devin and the grandkids. Missing them so much. Easton was so proud to show us his Shrek bandaged war wounds (shots) from his check up at the doctors. And of course we had to hear all about the ice cream treat at the end. Tomorrow is his first day back to preschool and he’s so excited!