Tuesday, July 2, 2019

What Were They Thinking?

Given the world renown fishery at the Russian River, getting a camp site anywhere close takes some planning and luck. Three years ago, our son was lucky enough to get a couple spots at the Russian River State Park for the late sockeye run, but typically that park is booked full the first day of available reservations.

This time we positioned at the nearly empty Trail River NF campground near Moose Pass in hopes of snagging a favorite spot at Kelly Lake during the typical weekend shuffle.

In spite of the growing Swan Lake fire to the north, we had beautiful reflections on the lake when we snagged the primo lakefront site at Kelly Lake. And even better, it's free! Six years ago, we'd visited the Swan Lake area because of the canoe route that winds through a number of the lakes in that area.

We tucked both of our rigs into the one spot rather than taking up two of the four sites available. Even with the tree shading our solar panels in the morning, we had more than enough power production to stay happy for six days.

Kelly Lake also has a cabin that can be rented. It's about .5 mile from the campsites and parking, but does come with a rowboat if you think it's easier to row your gear instead of carrying it. While we were there, it seems it was only rented one or max of two days at a time.

Once in a while the breeze would change directions and we would end up with enough smoke from the Swan Lake fire that you couldn't see across the mountains on the far side of the  lake.

In spite of the number of times we'd visited the area, none of us had ever driven the Skilak Road. It's an 18 mile gravel loop that runs south of the Sterling highway. The guys took a day off from fishing so we could check out the area. Several nice lakes, and several nice campgrounds were found. The most amazing thing was this small sign along the road, west of Skilak Lake.

Of course, we had to check it out! What we found was an abandoned, but very impressive double lane dump, set up so that it could be used from either direction. The water had been turned off, but the dump appeared still usable, in spite of the weeds growing through the asphalt. The price was right, but the road was rough enough that I wouldn't consider driving there to save a few dollars! What were they thinking???

With more than enough salmon to fill their annual needs, the Alaska contingent decided to wind down their fishing and we decided that we'd had all the smoke we wanted. After six days with family at Kelly Lake, we pulled up stakes and moved down the road to Ninilchik View. I'd been thinking of Deep Creek Beach, but Turk liked the grass at Ninilchik View.

It turns out, we left just hours ahead of when we would have been evicted. They closed all of the campgrounds along the Skilak road as well as the the campgrounds on the south side of the Sterling Highway. The fire hasn't crossed the highway but they are using the highway as fire break and traffic was restricted for a while. We'll have to go back that way, but not until we're done in Homer.

While we were at Ninilchik, we did some wandering around, including checking out all of the campgrounds at Anchor Point. We really liked Halibut Campground because it was adjacent to the beach and near a tractor launch operation, but it was full. We did manage to snag a cache while we were there that is the western most cache accessible to the road system in the US.

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