Here in Alaska, we like to take advantage of the great outdoors that surrounds us. We didn’t get to go camping as much as we wanted this summer, so what better time than winter?
My friend Stephanie invited Matt & I to join her and some other cool kids on a weekend trip to Eklutna Lake for some good old-fashioned tent camping.
Early Saturday morning Matt & I went to REI to pick up the winter tent and sleeping bags that are rated to -20 degrees that we had rented. Once we grabbed those and put them in our packs, we headed north on the 45 minute drive to Ekultna.
There were five of us total: Matt, myself, Stephanie, Jodie, and Alex. We all had filled our backpacking packs with tents, sleeping bags, dehydrated meals, and warm layers. We took the lakeside trail for 3.5 miles before our 40lb. bags demanded we rest for lunch.
We ate down on the beach and found some amazing structures built by someone out of driftwood that looked amazing. It was the perfect place to set up for lunch. I had a bit of a mishap with our lasagna meal – the bag malfunctioned and lasagna spilled all over my jacket and gloves. According to Stephanie, it looked like I had been shot! (I had been holding the bag in the crook of my arm while it cooked, and the seal had detached from the wall of the bag. Ouch!)
We found a flat spot along the beach to camp at, and set up our tents and gear before it got dark. As we are getting closer to the winter solstice (December 21), the days are super short. Saturday the sun rose around 9:30 am and the sun set around 4:00pm.
The boys & Jodie got down to building a fire immediately, while Stephanie & I took photos of ourselves with the mountains and lake in the background and discussed how unhelpful we are at building fires. Then we proceeded to help gather firewood, so it’s kind of like we carried our own weight? Maybe?
After we got the fire going and ready, Jodie, Stephanie and I put on our cross-country skis and went on the trail to try them out. Sasha & Moose tagged along, making it a fun ladies activity!
Unfortunately, there still wasn’t enough snow on the trails and we kept skimming rocks with our skis. After 45 minutes of attempting, we headed back to the campsite to jam out to some Taylor Swift and make s’mores and dinner.
After a fun time spent around the fire, we retired to bed where the pups had already claimed their spots. It was a cold night, and the dogs kept pushing us off our mattress pads and Moose even tried to climb in Matt’s sleeping bag a little bit.
When we woke Sunday morning, it was a lot warmer and it had rained through the night. That made it really not fun to take down a wet tent and pack the bags back up.
Matt made an amazing breakfast of biscuits and gravy on the camp stove, and we all got ready for the hike back to the cars.
The dogs had a blast on the trip, with Sasha blowing everyone’s expectations by being a mountain explorer the whole time! Both Moose & Sasha would run into the woods and tree squirrels and then run back to join us on our hike. They completely exhausted themselves though, and have barely moved off the downstairs couch since we got home.
Throughout the entire weekend, we couldn’t get over the beauty of Alaska. I used to feel spoiled living in the Carolina’s with hiking ‘only an hour away!’ and now that we can be 15 minutes from great hiking, and less than an hour from recreational areas like Eklutna, it reminds me how lucky I am to live here.
You can see a little red dot in the photo above, which is Moose in her jacket. She kept sitting at the edge of the lake, looking philosophical all weekend, as if she was contemplating how pretty it is and how many things she needed to pee on.
I’d say it was a successful weekend, filled with the Alaskan adventure we dreamed about doing when we moved up here. Can’t wait to see what we do next!