Dreaming of Fox Island, Alaska

Today we are super excited to feature this guest post from Kristi Trimmer who is a full-time traveler, beer & wine blogger, runner, tech geek, and garden lover. Kristi is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and after traveling to the last frontier (and falling in love with the never-ending beauty of this vast land), is currently in the middle of trying to survive her first ever winter in Alaska. Although the minimal daylight hours and chilly temps can get to most people, we are pretty sure that Kristi’s job spent interviewing craft breweries and wineries is keeping her mighty warm at night. 😉 Read on to learn more about Kristi’s journey to Fox Island, a lush, mountainous isle in Resurrection Bay located just a short boat ride from the quaint fishing town of Seward, Alaska.

There is one place when I close my eyes that I imagine I am back at… Fox Island, Alaska. An island with very few people, an amazing lodge, a room that had the best bed I have slept on in years, and a porcupine that I wanted to hug. Yep, I’m still dreaming of Fox Island, Alaska.

A part of Fox Island is owned by CIRI Alaska Tourism, which is located in Resurrection Bay, 12 miles south of Seward. You have to take a boat to get there and there are no phones, no internet, and no people. Well, a few people, but not many. There are only eight cabins – so the whole place has a very friendly, intimate feel to it.

Every day the Kenai Fjords Wildlife and Glacier Tour boat stops at Fox Island for lunch after departing from Seward. But you don’t get to go to the Lodge. The Lodge is special. After I took the boat ride to the island I was met by Cathy Martell, the General Manager of Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge. I might have fallen in love. Not with her! But with Fox Island. I found a place that I never wanted to leave. I sat down, put my feet up and warmed up by the fireplace and looked out at this wonderful place.

I was only there for the night, but I wanted to stay forever. It was a bittersweet time – I am at one of the most beautiful, most romantic, places I had ever been, but I was there solo as the man I was dating had to cancel last minute. I was in the midst of couples celebrating romantic getaways to a remote island. That’s not awkward at all.

There were 3 couples and me staying at Fox Island. It was the last weekend before the island closed for the season and there was excitement in the air that I just can’t quite explain. When we arrived at the Wilderness Lodge we had a seated lunch looking out at the crystal blue-green waters of Resurrection Bay. They were all tables for two, not communal dining. That’s ok, I am used to eating alone.

Then about 10 minutes into the silence, the guy at the table next to me spoke up and asked where everyone was from. So glad he broke the ice! I met Day and Jacob from Texas and Steve and Fiona from England. What was awesome was that Day and Jacob invited me to eat with them – I gladly accepted!

We were all then shown to our log cabins and given some time to freshen up before the afternoon’s activities of a nature walk, a Chef’s cooking demo and then a seated 5-course dinner at the Lodge. Heaven, I tell you!

Nature + Cooking + Amazing Views = Heaven

My cabin the woods – I would live here year-round if I could!

I needed a few minutes alone to get my mind right. To not stress out over being there alone and to enjoy each moment that had been gifted to me. When I walked into my room, I felt more at home in that moment than I had in years. It was the perfect tiny house!!

What you don’t see is that there was also a cozy couch and coffee table with a perfect view looking out over the island’s lake. Right in front of this oh-so-comfy bed, I did 10 minutes of yoga to clear my head, stretch my body, and to meditate looking out over that pristine, calm lake. I climbed up onto that bed and never wanted to leave. I almost ditched the day to spend it all right there – *that* comfortable!!

I loved that right outside my door was a footprint made with rocks found on the island. And that tree stump was home to a few mushrooms, raspberries, and Salmon berries – and yep, I ate a few. Yum!

I headed back out and met the other couples for a nature hike on the beachside of the island. We found out which berries we could eat and which we definitely would want to steer clear of.  There were also dozens of different types of wild mushrooms everywhere and I was SO enthralled by them all. I so want to do some mushroom hunting this year!

I had signed up for the cooking class with Island Chef Matt at the Wilderness Lodge. He was making salmon skewers with a mango balsamic reduction. He was aware of my soy allergy and was up for the challenge! He changed up the recipe to something he had never made before and it was utterly delicious! I never would have thought of making salmon skewers as an appetizer – but boy, were they easy and fast to make, and amazingly good too!

It really was a great way to end this most amazing Alaskan Summer!

After I had some tasty fresh-caught Salmon in my belly, I headed out with Day and Jacob on a paddle boat to explore the island’s interior from the lake. After awhile, Day and I put our feet up and Jacob did all the work – sorry about that! We laughed and laughed out on the water – they were so much fun! While we were out on the paddleboat, Steve and Fiona had taken a kayak trip around the lake and came back with stories of seeing Stellar Sea Lions just feet away from them – they were on Cloud 9!

View from the lakeside… so serene!

After we cleaned up, it was dinner time! Executive Chef for Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge and Seward Windsong Lodge is Jerry Phaisavath. Chef Jerry and Chef Matt did not disappoint with their menus for each meal. The star of the show at dinner were the fresh scallops and seafood risotto. That was hands down, the best scallops of my life! I also want to somehow get that seafood risotto recipe because it put mine to shame. I was so impressed with all of the food so far – nothing was left out in making sure the guests had an amazing experience. From the snack table of fresh fruit and cheeses, to each course at every meal being made with full flavor profiles and good, not pretentious food. They even had great wines and Alaskan beer to pair with each course. Seriously, 5-star experience all around.

After dinner, we were out enjoying the view when we spotted orcas far off in the distance. We thought if we walked around the island that we might have a better view of the breaching whales. So we walked around the south end of the island saw so many jellyfish on the shore and black slate rocks that glistened in the early evening sun.

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish taking in the view.

Once we rounded the southern tip we saw a pod of Orcas – we were all in awe! The sun was setting over the mountains and we decided to take some pics. First time I had used them timer function on my Canon T3i!

Fox Island Shenanigans with new friends!

Jacob took this pic of me which I just love!

When we came back from that walk, everyone else was talking, but I was lost in thought. My ankle was acting up, and my limp was back making me walk so very slow. I was thinking about my life, my time in Alaska, and how this land continues to amaze and change me. How this island touched a part of my soul. I was in love. I was in love with Fox Island. And then I had an affair.

We walked up to the Lodge and were told that the bonfire with smores had just started down the beach. I was going to go and drop my camera off in my room and put on my bigger L.L. Bean coat as the cooler temps were already affecting my Arizona blood.

But then he came into my life. The porcupine. At first we thought there was a big black dog on the beach. Nope. That was not a big fluffy dog, but a big not-so-fluffy porcupine! Of course I tried to get close enough to get a picture of him. He was not amused and sadly, scared of us. He darted back through the woods and up a tree. Who knew porcupines could climb trees?!?

There were very few animals on this island and we had just found one of a handful! He was so dang super cute! Yep, wanted to give him a hug, but instead took his pic. Yep, I had a love affair on Fox Island with a Mr. Porcupine.

I went back to my cabin, grabbed my Theo Dark Chocolate and headed to the bonfire. I stayed for one smore and then decided to call it a night at 10:30pm. It was dark out and I was pretty tired. The boat was coming for us early in the morning and I wanted to be well rested.

At about 6:00am, hot tea and a light breakfast showed up on my deck. The service here is incredibly stellar! I made some tea, did my yoga, and breathed in the peace I found in this cabin on Fox Island.

I headed to a full breakfast with the other guests as it was the last time we would all be together. Day and Jacob were going on the day whale watching cruise with me and Steve and Fiona were on the shorter one departing in a couple hours. Hugs all around as we said goodbye to our new friends.

Chef Matt made me a special lunch to take on the cruise that was soy-free. He had been SO amazing with my food allergy. He really made me feel like I had nothing to worry about and that it wasn’t the pain-in-the-ass that I know it is. And that, my friends, is how every person with food allergies wants to feel.

Thank you Fox Island staff for making my trip to be so amazing – your smiles, your expert advice, and for just being so real, not stuffy or fake – you made your guests feel like family, Thank you!

I dream about Fox Island a lot. A lot. When I am stressed out, I close my eyes and remember the sunset off the island, the crystal blue waters of the ocean, the serene calmness of the lake, and the way my heart and soul found peace. I might have been there alone, but I was not lonely. New friends were made, I had a love affair with porcupine, and I smiled again. I’m still dreaming about Fox Island…

Read Kristi’s disclosure at the bottom of this blog HERE. To read more about her Alaska experiences, please visit her website at http://kristitrimmer.com/.

Advertisements

Live the Dream; Mush a Dog Sled Team!

When we ask people what their top motivators are for visiting The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, the majority of the responses we get are… mountains, glaciers, wildlife, and fishing of course! But during the winter months activities are much more limited as the temperature begins to drop, many lakes and rivers freeze over, and the bears go into hibernation for an extended vacation. But we are here to tell you; don’t let a few hurdles get in your way of enjoying one of the most wonderful times of year on Alaska’s Playground. Winter activities are truly in abundance and if you are ever in need of some tips or pointers, we have lots of ideas to share! Let us start with one of our very favorites… taking a Winter Dog Sled Tour with Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours in Seward, Alaska.

Seavey's IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours

Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours

Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours was started by the Seavey family. “Take care of your dogs, and they’ll take care of you.”  The Seavey family’s simple motto certainly seems to be working.  With three consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race championships, a tour recognized as the “Best Sled Dog Tour in Alaska,” a growing list of great-grandkids ready to carry on the family tradition, and the ability to support their family doing what they love, any Seavey will tell you they’re blessed. To learn more about Mitch Seavey, Dan Seavey Sr., Danny Seavey, Dallas Seavey, Conway Seavey, or Jennifer Seavey… visit this link HERE!

Photo from Marc Lester/AP

Photo from Marc Lester/AP

On a Winter Dog Sled Tour, you will mush a dog team down through one of the most beautiful areas on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground… Seward, Alaska!

And where will you go in the beautiful town of Seward? Well, you will go through the Resurrection River Valley right to up to Exit Glacier.

Resurrection River Valley

Resurrection River Valley

Not only will you go up to Exit Glacier (which is a glacier derived from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains), but you will actually eat a trail lunch and drink some delicious hot chocolate all the while taking in the awe-inspiring views, right at the glacier. The road is closed in the winter, so dog team is one of the only ways you can see the glacier in the winter. The trail is wide and easy to maneuver, so anyone can learn. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what it looks like, here is a gorgeous sneak peak…

What is Dog Mushing exactly? Well, Dog mushing was designated the official state sport of Alaska in 1972. Mushing is a term for a sport or transport method powered by our favorite four-legged best friends. It includes carting, sled dog racing, skijoring, freighting, and weight pulling. More specifically as it relates to this tour, it implies the use of one or more dogs to pull a sled on snow.

Winter Sled Dog Tour

Sled Dog Tour

Make sure you bring your camera. The scenery is incredible, and you often see moose and eagles. You really get to experience the Alaska wilderness, and will leave with an understanding and appreciation of sled dogs. It is usually between 20F to 35F and somewhere between snowing and clear. Trips will be cancelled if temps drop to 10 degrees or sub-zero conditions.

Team Seavey in Action

Team Seavey in Action

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions including gear requirements, reservations, age ranges, mileage traveled on the tour, etc… click HERE!

Danny Seavy, Photo From Seavey's IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours Facebook Page

Danny Seavy, Photo From Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours Facebook Page

If you are a nature lover, an animal lover, a thrill seeker, and most importantly… someone who enjoys a fun adventure, we highly recommend that you put a Seavey’s IditaRide Winter Dog Sled Tour on your must-do list, today! Hurry, winter tours fill up fast! Just look at this face, how could you possibly resist? 😉

Name: Raptor

Name: Raptor

Find yourself on Lost Lake Trail

The Chugach National Forest from Lost Lake, near Seward, Alaska.

Before we get started, we must first send a big “THANK YOU” to Ron Niebrugge with Wild Nature Images for taking such amazing photos that truly capture the magic of Alaska’s Playground. The majority of the photos in this blog post are courtesy of his stunning photography skills and for that, we are incredibly grateful.

Lost Lake Trail Kenai Peninsula Alaska

Lost Lake Trail is located in the Chugach National Forest, closest to the town of Seward, Alaska but also accessible from a trailhead in Cooper Landing, Alaska. It is approximately 15 miles long and is accessible all year long. It is most commonly used for hiking and backpacking in the summertime.

Lost%20Lake%20Mountain%20Bike%201

During the winter months many residents and visitors alike will use portions of the trail for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snow machining.

Snowmachine Lost Lake - Jake

When snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, you’ll be moving at a pace that leaves you plenty of time to take in all of the breathtaking views.

From the Lost Lake Trail in the winter, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

There are wonderful public use cabin‘s along the trail that many adventure-enthusiasts love to take full advantage of as well, so long as they follow the strict requirement of needing to sign up a minimum of 6 months (180 days) in advance prior to staying. It might seem like a lot of notice needed, but these cabins are often considered hidden gems and they tend to fill up very quickly!

120113-056

On the inside of this particular cabin, you’ll experience a very cozy setting with all of the essentials to keep you safe, warm, and comfortable overnight.

Lost-Lake-Cabin

The views aren’t too bad either. 😉 And yet again, we are humbled by how spoiled we are with endless natural beauty on Alaska’s Playground!

Lost-Lake-Cabin-4c

During the summer months, tent camping is always an option as well. If you want to get “up close and personal” with nature, this is definitely your one-way-ticket to achieving that!

13127622

Look for forest birds such as fox sparrows, chickadees, thrushes, gray jays and spruce grouse. Alpine tundra draws out gray-crowned Rosy finch, ptarmigan and American pipits. Black and brown bears use the habitat, along with moose. Marmots bask and feed in rocky areas above tree line—listen for their sharp, whistled alarm calls.

marmot1

Mountain goats forage on steep slopes of Ascension Peak overlooking the lake.

slowhappyrunner.wordpress.com

slowhappyrunner.wordpress.com

The trail begins in a mossy low-elevation Sitka spruce forest only a few miles from the sea and then climbs through a succession of habitats until it breaks out into subalpine tundra. The valley surrounding Lost Lake is known for its meadows of flowers.

To access the Lost Lake Trail, you have two options. The first is the Primrose Access which is located east of Kenai Lake as you head towards Seward, AK. You’ll find the Primrose Campground and Lost Lake trail access parking lot on the right. This is a steep and moguly climb through dense hemlock forest to the mountains surrounding Lost Lake, high above and behind Kenai Lake. Click HERE to view the Department of Natural Resources Trail Map.

If traveling by snowmachine, the ride is bumpy going up, and takes a 1/2 hour or so, but the endless riding and powder above offer an extreme experience for expert riders.

Snowmachine Lost Lake - Jake

Another way to access the Lost Lake trail is from the Cooper Lake access point. You can climb through V-Max canyon and access Lost Lake from the opposite end by taking Snug Harbor road off of the Sterling Hwy in Cooper Landing, just past the Kenai Lake bridge. A 7-mile drive up this partially paved/gravel road will take you to a small parking area.

IMG_0391

If traveling by snowmachine, you can unload and travel several miles further up the road through a packed snowmachine corridor, and turn left at Rainbow Lake parking area to follow the tracks up the mountain, through V-Max Canyon and to Lost Lake. Bring extra fuel for this route, as you should probably do just about anywhere you go in case you get carried away with your riding.

060407-130

Lost Lake Trail is rated a “difficult” trail, so please be advised of the extremities before attempting to venture on a journey down the trail and utilize your local resources to make sure that you are fully prepared. One thing is for sure… if you do make the journey, we are 100% certain that you will not be disappointed with the beautiful scenery that you experience!

Lost Lake region, Chugach National Forest, near Seward, Alaska.

Additional Sources: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewinglocations.lostlaketrail

2014 Keen Eye Photo Contest Winners

Well, what can we say… it was an amazing 2014 summer season on #theKenai. And now that the snow is flying on Alaska’s Playground, we must start our winter wonderland celebration by first and foremost, saying “THANK YOU” to everyone that submitted a photo in the 2014 Keen Eye Photo Contest. Secondly, we must send a huge congratulations to our top three winners; Tom Brott in first place with “Friendly Seas,” Debbie Wik in second place with “Kayak Alaska,” and Jeannine Audet in third place with “Paddling with Icebergs!” We had an overwhelming response this year and for that, we cannot thank our amazingly loyal audience enough.

Keen Eye Photo Contest Winners 2014

And for your viewing pleasure, scroll down to enjoy a few more incredible photos that were submitted. Like this one from Jennifer Hanan titled “Fishing Lessons.”

10583937_696711080376555_69935561659554301_n

A dinnertime fire while camping on “Sunken Island” in Sterling, Alaska. This photo was submitted by Deann Crandall.

10592860_696707870376876_4561905251224467097_n

Rolling Hills” taken while on an ATV ride in Nikiski, Alaska was submitted by Leslie Richards.

10613067_696711737043156_233389124850122832_n

Midnight Sunset” taken on a float trip down the Kenai River was submitted by Jeannine Audet.

10565150_696712240376439_8994058011891539627_n

Time for breakfast! “A Barrel of Fun” featuring a Mama Bear & her 3 Cubs getting into a barrel of feed in Cooper Landing, Alaska was submitted by Calah Long.

10599152_696705787043751_484761028335634562_n

“Marmot Meadow” taken while hiking the Harding Icefield Trail in Seward, Alaska was submitted by Jeannine Audet.

10603438_696705190377144_7476408319792118317_n

Camping at Kasilof Beach = “Radiance” 🙂  This photo submitted by Sherrie Seymour.

1907416_696706727043657_5698637147375679635_n

“Midnight Beauty” submitted by Kathleen Dougherty.

10612784_696702283710768_7565603318840934843_n

If you don’t already have plans to visit The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground next summer, we are sure that these photos will convince you otherwise. 😉 Stay tuned for the 2015 Photo Contest for your chance to win CASH through sharing your adventures on The Kenai with us! In the mean time, get out and enjoy all the splendors of winter wonderland!