Final days in Sitka . . .

September 30, 2015

Final days in Sitka . . .

Last week I did get a new roommate – Coleman Ruston – a historian who will be working with things related to the Russian Bishop House and St. Innocent.  He comes from Central Washington University and Ellensburg, WA.  I believe he will be doing translations but am not certain.  He’ll be in Sitka for about 9 months.  We spent just a little over a week together before it was time to leave so I can’t say I know him well at all.  He, however, was a nice housemate.  It was fun cooking for more than just me a few times.  Hadn’t realized I’d missed that!  We’ll stay in touch over Facebook though and I think he will enjoy his time in Sitka.

This was my final week in Alaska for 2015.  What an awesome three months it has been.  Leaving was incredibly bittersweet.  While ready to get home to family and friend, it was difficult  leaving such a beautiful place with such great people.

I did manage to get in a hike on the Indian River Trail thanks to another volunteer, Michael.  I didn’t want to go it alone and it turned out to be a beautiful day.  Michael brought the bear spray (I didn’t have any) and off we went.  This trail runs up a slight incline following the Indian River for about 4 miles and is considered to be an easy hike.  We didn’t make it to the top due to time but we did get a little over halfway up before heading back in order to arrive before nightfall and more likelihood of finding (or being found) by a bear.  Here are some pictures (not going to tell you how many I actually took but it was too many!) It was just so beautiful.  Hope I don’t bore you with too many here.

Indian River Trail_Michael_09252015
Michael Romera, my trail mate.
Another Pic of Indian River trail
This is a muskeg – defined as a “grassy bog”. Muskeg is approximately synonymous with bogland, but “muskeg” is the standard term in Western Canada and Alaska, while ‘bog’ is common elsewhere.
Indian River Trail walk 1
Trees fall but then new ones grow on top of the fallen trees.
Indian River Trail Fall Colors.9.25.2015
fall colors!
Indian River Trail Walk 4
More brush to walk through
Indian River Trail_IndianRiver_09.25.2015
The trail follows the Indiana River. The same Indian River that runs through the National Park and where the salmon come to spawn.
Indian River Trail_skunk cabbage_09.25.2015
There are boards to walk on that have been laid on the trails and covered in many places with a mesh that keeps them from being so slick. Next to the trail (the leafy plants) is Skunk Cabbage. Bears love it!
Indian River Trail_Trees.09.25.2015
Beautiful day! The sun was filtering through the trees.
Indian River Trail_Rope Swing_09.25.2015
We found a rope swing over the river about 1/2 way up the trail. Looks fun and so tempting!
IR Trail Walk 1
More of the trail
IR Trail Walk
More of the trees
IRR Trail Climbing through trees
Climbing through the fallen trees.
IRR Trail sun Through Trees
More of the sun coming through the trees.
IRR Trail 3
Michael surveying the trail.
Indian River Trail_Mara_09252015
I really enjoyed the hike!

Saying goodbye to the salmon.  Only a few left in the river.  Most have spawned and passed on, leaving a wretched stench in the air!

salmon life cycle
The salmon are almost gone.

My last ten days were full of little treasures.  A lunch with folks from the Episcopal Tea House; a trail hike on the Indian River Trail with fellow volunteer Michael; some extra walks in the rain;  a special meal at the home of the garden volunteer made from the fruits of the garden; a last walk to say good-bye to the remaining salmon spawning in the river; a final walk on the totem trail, and lots of “till we meet again” goodbyes to new friends.

Rangers Em and Ryan with Carver Mark
Mark, Alaska Native Wood Carver, with Rangers Ryan and Em.
Bernie, who walks the Park trail every day. She’s in her early 80’s and she is showing the $100 she won in the drawing for those who completed their “Park Prescriptions”. I want to be as spunky as she is when I’m in my 80s. I loved seeing her every day!
StPeters Tea Group Lunch 09.25.2015
Ann, at the head of the table, took all her Episcopal tea house helpers out to lunch. It was my “farewell” lunch. She was so delightful. I’ll miss her a lot.

I was also given a few treasures to bring home with me as well.  There is Spruce Tip Jelly, smoked and canned salmon, a Christmas tree ornament beaded by a very special beader, a signed piece of red spruce from the new Cormorant Pole, along with so many new acquaintances and friends.  Can’t wait to show off my prizes when I return home.

This adventure was just the first of what I hope to be many more volunteer trips.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested.  My hope is that I can make these happen six months out of each year.  I’ve already started looking for the next opportunity.  I wonder where I will go. . . would love getting near the water again.  But then, the mountains look great too.  I’ll just have to wait and see.

Next up:  Three months at home and some family time.  Will share some of these events with you in the next blog.