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Thu 12-Jun-2014 Alaska, Travel | 0 comments | Map

Mitkof Island

Mitkof Island

The sun in our eyes woke us at 4:45. Nice to have sun, but it seemed a little early. At low tide we walked out to the little island across from our camp. All the rocks and shells left at low tide are covered with barnacles – more than we have ever seen. We had expected mud when walking out, but instead it was crunch, crunch, crunch – like walking on gravel. We made it back to shore just before the tide moved in.

We drove further south on the Mitkof Highway to see how far the paved road went and to get a closer look at the logging operation we had been watching from our campsite. They certainly work rapidly. The barge is moored in the bay with a tug boat standing by. The helicopter heads up to the mountain, picks up a log, returns to the barge, lays the log in the barge, and returns to the hillside for another (see photos). The roundtrip takes about 2 minutes. We talked for a couple minutes to one of the people regulating the car traffic on the road over which the helicopter was flying. (Almost seems unnecessary as there are no more than two dozen cars using that section of the road each day, but they certainly wouldn’t want to drop a log on a passing car.) He said the loggers spend about 4 hours in the morning cutting the trees. The snuggers (those who wrap a wire around the log to be moved) and the pilot work the rest of the day moving the logs to the barge. On the barge a machine with a big pincher (see photo) is used to stack the logs. The barge will be taken to Ketchikan to the saw mill there.

We then drove on a gravel road for the trailhead to Three Lakes Loop. We enjoyed a 3+ mile trail around Crane and Hill Lakes. The entire trail is planks of cedar, most about 16-inches wide and 3-inches thick. Planking is necessary because the ground is wet and even areas where it is not wet will be wet once many feet have worn a recessed path in the soft soil. The walk passes through temperate rain forest and muskeg. The muskeg is interesting – moss and grass as expected, but unexpected were the deep water-filled holes scattered over it which had yellow pond lilies blooming in them. At each of the lakes is a row boat that we are welcome to take out on the lake. (Amanda is not the only Elmore who can row.)

On the way back home we stopped at the Blind River Slough where we watched some crazy, happy teenagers swimming in the frigid waters (see photo). Dinner was lamb chops, zucchini and onions, potatoes, and salad.