Kelsey’s Journals!

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Monday, October 26th, 2015

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Feb 13, 2012 Baranof

Thursday, April 5th, 2012


It was a dreary, drizzly day but we made the best of it with a snowshoe adventure.  After a slow morning, we took off above the cabin to lands unknown.  In the woods, we were largely sheltered from the rain.  We climbed upwards, first coming across a primitive A-frame shack, maybe 5×10.  It was boarded up and looked to be a work in progress. Perhaps it would serve as a suitable hunting shack but this dark, tight space was no place for me.  Next we found remnants of an abandoned cabin project from long ago, the wood post foundations rotting.  The gem was a tiny unfinished shack teetering on top of a massive boulder with the best spot in all of camp, totally private and with views over the bay and out to Chatham.  It was the perfect hermit hideout, hobbled together on a shoestring budget.  We peered inside the picture window and found a cool book collection, Pete straining to read all of the titles.  The extending “deck” was falling apart, and Pete was precariously positioned.  Unfortunately, there’d been a marten invasion and the place looked like it had been torn to shreds.  We solved the mystery of a bright blue tarp that I kept seeing up in the woods from our cabin window.  It turned out that the blue was the reflection of the sky off this shack’s picture window.  From this newly discovered backyard that we deemed “upper camp” we stayed high and continued our trek.  We headed for another place tucked up in the woods, a charming hand-hewn log cabin, a real piece of craftsmanship.  We’d come across the place last summer and were sad to now see one of the lower corners rotting.  Someone had invested so much time and care into its construction.  The cabin was elevated and everything underneath was stowed in a very orderly fashion, work boots, hard hat, rain jacket, etc., all hung just so.  Something about it was a little spooky.

Feb 12, 2012 Baranof

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

34° SNOW + RAIN, 34° CLEAR

While I was making samosas in the late morning, Ben (a friend from the hatchery who’d arrived on his sailboat) and his 5-year-old son Tristan came by the cabin.  Tristan was curious about the cooking project, asking, “What are you doin’ Ms. Kelsey?”  He’d taken a shining to me.  He told me about his proficiency in the kitchen, how he’d made his mom a pot of soup for her birthday.

Ben agreed to weld our cracked snow blower handle, given his access to a full-blown shop at the hatchery. We’d ordered a brand-new handle, but it would be wise to have a back up.  Pete showed Ben & Tristan to the L-tub and they soaked before departing the bay.  A group of seasonal employees from the hatchery had made way for the grotto without snowshoes and we wondered how they (and our nicely packed snowshoe trail) had fared.

The theme of the night was Indian, and we had Dave & Anke over for salad, samosas and a coconut-tomato-chickpea curry.  Pete set the ambiance with a CD he’d picked up in India.  With tapioca pudding for dessert, we were all stuffed to the brim!

Feb 10, 2012 Baranof

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

36° SUNNY, 34° CLEAR

A mighty fine morning, warm and sunny, coincided with our plans to buck up logs down on the tide flats.  Pete donned full safety gear and got down to business with the chainsaw.  Two of the logs were cedar and in fine condition and the other two, unfortunately, soft and rotten.  The warm air and and combined smell of gas and cedar sawdust was intoxicating.  The noise I could do without.  Even with the ear protection, the whirring had me on edge. Pete & I took turns splitting the rounds and the end result was roughly a cord of wood.  We raced against the rising tide to hoist all of the rotten rounds onto the boardwalk, for fear of releasing any navigational hazards into the bay. Pete found he-man strength for the job.  The incoming tide did the clean-up for us.  Only a scattering of sawdust left behind, it was as though we’d never been down on those flats.

Over the radio, Dave & Anke caught wind of our activities and they offered to pitch in and help with the numerous wheelbarrow loads ahead.  We couldn’t ask for more kind, helpful neighbors!  It sounded like Anke wanted a bit of a workout, and we certainly made her sweat.  Both Anke and I loaded our respective wheelbarrows and began the ascent up the steepening boardwalk to John’s cabin.  If the task became too onerous, one of us would push the other up the hill.  Pressure applied by the “pusher” gave that extra boost needed to make it up.  Pete received the wheelbarrow loads and stacked the wood underneath John’s cabin. Meanwhile, Dave loaded the rotten rounds onto a dolly and piled them in the public picnic shelter.  The job was certainly made more fun with four.  We rewarded ourselves with whiskey gingers and an L-tub soak well into the evening.  It was a calm, star-studded night in contrast to last night’s volatile storm.

Feb 9, 2012 Baranof

Thursday, April 5th, 2012


Last year’s caretaker had towed four logs ashore to be bucked up for firewood.  John told us that we were welcome to them in order to replenish his firewood supply.  Lying near the high tide line, the logs were now tunneled into the snow and we had to dig out the accessible halves and melt out the rest with our unlimited supply of hot water and a long snake of hoses.  As the tide creeped higher than expected, we worried that we’d untied the logs prematurely.  Pete put us on log watch” during the top of the tide and, fortunately, the buggers did not stray.  We plan to get to work on them tomorrow.

From the L-tub we watched the weather take a sudden turn for the worse, ominous skies overtook the bay and white caps stirred up out in Chatham.  A major wind storm with 60 knot gusts and 3 ft waves hit in the evening.  I’d never seen it blow up like this in the bay, as we’re normally quite protected.  We frequently checked on Privateer as the dock bucked violently and the waves washed over the airplane float. The float might not make it through the night by the looks of it.  Even a few of the dock pilings looked somewhat dubious and we hoped they would hold!

Feb 7, 2012 Baranof

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012


I’m relishing in this warm” weather and have learned that warmth is a relative thing.  It feels like spring is in the air, though perhaps this is wishful thinking.  We’ve lost the top layer of snow and the boardwalks are nearly melted out.  After a three-hour sunrise soak I set out to shovel another roof’s pile.  This roof shedding caused some minor damage, taking out a wooden staircase railing.  Yet another poorly designed property, unsuited to the Alaskan winter!  Christine’s dog, Emily (referred to as the town’s harbormaster”), stood by my side and kept me company.  She has a strong, independent spirit and will stick around only if she’s in the mood.  During the summer, Emily is keen on greeting boats at the dock and accepting their generous culinary offerings and has become a stowaway on more than one occasion!  We had looked forward to spending time with Emily this winter, but her appearances are all too brief.  She probably prefers to stay snug in the cabin during these frigid months.  While I shoveled, Pete worked on boat projects.  With the change in weather, we’re getting anxious to go cruising!  Dave & Anke showed up unexpectedly this afternoon and we happily joined them up at the grotto for a soak.  Life is good!

Feb 6, 2012 Baranof

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012


It rained all day and I was decidedly staying put inside.  Pete rowed over to the lodge for morning coffee with Dave, Anke and Ben, who’d stayed the night on his sailboat, tied up at the lodge’s dock.  I enjoyed the time alone to do yoga, fiddle with guitar chords and read.  In the evening, Pete and I headed to the beach at low tide to comb for treasures.  We found some cool China pieces from a former Baranof and a plate whose underside was marked with Made in Occupied Japan.”  The spring tide is in effect, making for lower low tides.  Moonlight shines bright through our bedroom windows and fills the room.

Feb 5, 2012 Baranof

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012


We carried coffee and bathing accessories down to the L-tub for an early morning soak. The beloved L-tub is located in one of the resident’s bath houses, a simple wooden structure with windows” (no glass) open to the bay and views straight out to Chatham. It’s nestled on a hillside amongst the trees and located far enough from all the usual summer activity.  Pete surprised me with a spruced up bath house which he referred to as the spa.  He had stashed all the belongings left behind by previous bathers out of sight and we claimed the place as our own, even if just for the morning.  The water had finally reached a comfortable soaking temperature and we whittled the hours away during this first winter visit.  This newfound free time was a luxury!  Evidence of sunrise was still in the sky.  During the summer we like to watch the activity of boats coming and going from our quiet perch.  The lack of distractions during the winter allowed us to pay closer attention to the natural world–birds chirping in the nearby trees, ducks riding the current at the base of the waterfall and evolving weather conditions.  This was our version of paradise.  In the evening, we headed to dinner at the lodge and visited with friends from the nearby hatchery who’d arrived in their sailboat.

Feb 4, 2012 Baranof

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

34° CLEAR, 34° SUNNY

A bluebird of a day beckoned us outdoors.  This was the first day warm enough to travel without a jacket and it felt so good to shed the layers.  We punched our way through a crusty top layer of snow as we snowshoed to the lake.  The conditions were appropriate for our snowshoe extension tails which provide better weight distribution, but we hadn’t thought to bring them.  As we approached the lake, we saw fog steaming up through the trees and were for anxious to get a better look.  We scaled up to the knob, newly dimpled and cratered since our last visit.  A thick band of ice fog engulfed the largely frozen Baranof Lake.  Extreme humidity combined with below-freezing air coming off the icy lake surface had created a spectacular scene.  I had first seen this phenomenon in Colorado’s San Luis Valley last fall and was giddy to witness it again.  As the fog slowly dissipated, we realized how impeccable our timing had been!  Pete headed back home and I stayed atop the knob to soak up the sun until it nearly disappeared behind the ridge.  Then, I headed for the grotto for a solo soak in the woods.

Feb 3, 2012 Baranof

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012


Sleep did not come easy last night.  Pete awoke at 3am to check on Privateer and found her ably withstanding the elements.  There was a wind advisory until 9am and the outdoors looked unfriendly and forbidding.  Once the wind had settled and the skies cleared to blue, we snowshoed up to the hydro intake.  The snow level in the forest had noticeably grown taller and new tree branches blocked our pathway.

Our hot tub water had gone rather cold and we suspected a break in John’s hot water line. In our attempt to find the breakage point, we started at the hot spring source in the midst of the damp, mossy forest and worked our way down along the line.  Fortunately, the break was located close to the source and it proved an easy fix for Pete.

Another project was in store for the day.  One of the roof shedding events had taken down a pole-mounted solar panel, affixed to the fascia of one of the cabin roofs.  The panel had been placed poorly, and it was no surprise to find it gone.  Pole and panel were hanging upside down over the side of the deck, dangling by a mere cable.  We fashioned a rope and pulley system to hoist the awkward piece of equipment up on the deck where it would fare better.  It was a semi-dangerous task managing the heaviness of the contraption coupled with its unwieldy nature—a swinging twenty-foot long metal tube with a sharp-edged panel attached to its end.  Our careful retrieval efforts were successful.

It felt like a spring day and the snow began to melt on the docks.  Our narcissus bulbs, a gift from Pete’s mom transported all the way from Minneapolis, are just about ready to bloom inside the cabin.  They seem the heartiest of all plants and require only sand or soil to grow, little water and a recommended dash of hard liquor!  Dave & Anke arrived for dinner in the pouring rain.  It was spring by day and fall by night, our harvest feast consisting of wild-rice pilaf, morel mushrooms, sweet potatoes, a salad with beets and apples and carrot cake.  We enjoyed Dave’s home brewed wine and were glad for the company.