Saturday morning, we drove down the 6 miles of dirt road to the parking area at the start of the Butterfly Lake trail. Together with Drew and Vic we made our way down the 2.5 miles of muddy trail with two wheel barrels of 3 cement pavers each. Dave, in his typical fashion took his wheel barrel the whole way, while Alex and Drew tag teamed the other. Dave was concerned that Drew’s assistance might weaken his hardy wife who he has high expectations for, and make her think she doesn’t need to be “tough.” The funny thing was, most of the grumbles came from Drew, with several statements of, “Is this REALLY how Vic has been having you guys bring in supplies?” or “Couldn’t this stuff get flown in?” Tiring and difficult as it may be, we were the volunteers, and this is the sort of thing we signed up for… so we were ok with it!
After arriving at the boat launch, dripping from both the rain and sweat, the task of the day was to impound the boats that still did not have the needed permits, which were due to be put on the boats in mid-June. All other boats would be moved to the appropriate off-shore or on-shore storage locations. This was the step that we needed to be complete in order for us to complete our project, and Drew was the man for the job… because he is the ranger!
With all the boats moved to the appropriate places, we were able to spend time later in the week adding the finishing touches to the project. Fences to block off the areas that were being rehabilitated were installed, coir logs were installed along the devastated shorelines, jute was placed on torn up ground to help protect the regrowth of vegetation, and information signs were posted.
Who needs the sledge hammer when you have a rock?
During the week, we were also able to finish up our portage project by running the remainder of the boardwalk and installing a dock area. We were excited to show Vic our work, since this project was one that we had been looking forward to completing all summer.
There was a great deal of good work that came out of this week, but one “oops!” early in the week. Monday morning Alex rushed outside first thing in the morning because Dave was teasing her that he would eat her apple and peanut butter. What can we say, we are serious about our food and protecting it in this relationship… apparently we both eat a lot! As it so turns out, the bottom of Alex’s foot made contact with a rusty nail of the bear mat, and it was followed by a screech of pain and some blood. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad, and Alex had received a tetanus booster a few months earlier!
As our time was winding down, we made sure to take time to appreciate our surroundings, take in a few extra lake views, and the sunsets and moon that were now happening early, and by early we mean midnight. The week also brought some cool mornings and evenings along with rainy weather, so we made it a point to have a few more fires in the wood stove while we relaxed with our books and morning coffee and evening tea. We also had the opportunity to relax in a sauna at one of the private cabins on Butterfly Lake. As we had previously mentioned, there are some surprising things to be found on this backcountry lake, such as hot tubs and saunas. One of the locals we had hung out with earlier in the summer invited us to check out one of the saunas. We spent a few hours alternating between sweating and swimming. We would relax in the wood stove heated cedar building which was steamed by throwing ladles of water on stones that sat atop the stove and when it became too hot, we would jump in the lake.
When Thursday morning came, we packed up our belongings, wrote a farewell entry in the cabin log book, and closed up the cabin one last time. As usual, we paddled in a mixture or rain and drizzle to Tanaina where Vic picked us and the canoe up for the final return to the station.
Friday, we will head to Anchorage and have some time to check out the city before we fly home on Saturday. Our time in Alaska has gone so very fast; it is hard to believe we have been here for nearly 9 weeks. We will be glad to once again have running water, a comfortable bed, and to leave the smelly outhouse behind, but we will miss our quiet lake, beautiful scenery, mornings drinking coffee while reading by the fire and the cries of eagles and loons echoing over the lakes.