The campgrounds are all closed but there are cabins, lodges and a hotel open. Since the Sunrise Motel has one spacious room with 3 queen beds, we opted to stay there, hoping to convince our kids to come and spend the weekend with us for a mini-vacation. The other advantage is the Sunrise has a cafe (new owners are advertising it as a bistro, but that is a stretch) that is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. We weren't sure what other restaurants were open.
|Burn area off the Stetson Creek Trail has opened up some views
|The Stetson Trail was in good shape despite a forest fire
along it last June
We were pleased that despite the long climb, we were not winded, a testimony to our winter conditioning program (basketball for Doug; Alaska Training Room for me).
After checking into the hotel, I convinced Doug to check out another hike: Slaughter Ridge. It is a 4000 foot climb to the top of the ridge, but Doug expected that snow would stop us within a few hundred feet, otherwise he wouldn't have agreed to a pre-dinner stroll up a mountain! It is a south-facing slope and I suspected we would get quite a ways up the ridge, but I wasn't tell him that!
|I love this little waterfall near the start of the Slaughter Ridge Trail
|There is one short section of log-hopping in a swampy area on the Slaughter Trail before it begins the serious climb.
|The view of Kenai Lake from only about 1000 feet up where we finally hit snow on the trail.
Back over to Sunrise, we took an evening stroll (truly a stroll this time!) on the shores of Kenai Lake which is almost across the road from the motel. The water is low so there is actually a beach, though it is rocky. It was dead calm out so it was a pleasant walk.
The plan for the next day was to check out the Bean Trail, which is the local's connector to Resurrection Pass. As with all these hikes, they were exploratory and we didn't know how far we would get before stopped by snow or ice. As with the whole weekend, we were pleasantly surprised by how nice conditions were.
|The road at the start of the Bean Trail was icy, so ice spikeys on our boots were helpful.
|We would just get peeks at mountains through the trees on the Bean Trail
|Snowmachines made the trail easy walking
We geared up with multiple layers, extra socks and gloves, hotties, food and drinks. The kids' goal was Juneau Creek Falls, and impressively large waterfall 4 miles from the Cooper Landing Resurrection trailhead. Doug and I were just out for a walk--for the joy of being out in the woods exercising. If we made it to the falls, great, but if not, no big deal.
|A perfect winter scene along the Resurrection; contrast it with Slaughter Ridge--no snow!
The two fresh inches of snow covered the ice on the trail, but we managed to get away without ice spikes on our boots. The first couple miles had minimal snow depth on the trail and icy patches that kept us alert. As the elevation climbed, the snow depth increased to a couple feet, but many walkers before us had packed a single track which was easily navigated. Doug and I hiked out an hour and twenty minutes. We had just turned back when the kids came cruising into view; they had made it to the falls, past the falls, and were already heading back. Young whippersnappers! The weather had warmed up rather than cooled, the snow fell sporadically and the wind had died down so it was actually pleasant walking.
All in all, it was a delightful weekend until we had to drive home Sunday morning. It had continued to snow all night and then it began to rain. And then it warmed up and all the packed snow on the roads turned to slush. What a mess! But I've now decided that Cooper Landing should be a winter destination as well as a summer one. It is far enough away to be "away" but not so far away as to eat up a whole day traveling. Yea for spring break in Cooper Landing!