Kenai National Wildlife Refuge: Happy Birthday, Emily!

Pristine wilderness, maintained trails and clean, stocked restrooms on federal land? Thanks, Obama!

Seriously, we got all of that and more this weekend in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge between Kenai and Sterling. Emily’s 30th birthday wish was to get out for the weekend. We brainstormed backpack routes, nights in Talkeetna or Homer and ultimately settled on a two-night, two-day paddle in the Kenai NWR Swan Lakes Route (east route).

We pushed off Friday night and paddled/portaged three lakes before camp. After midnight the sun had set but the moon was so illuminated, even with it behind clouds we hardly needed headlamps. Day two was 7 hours between lakes and Moose River, heading back in the direction of Sterling. Navigating narrow, swampy river in a canoe with three people and all gear was tricky at times. Once we got the hang of it, the river was really pleasant and a ton of fun to navigate.

Eventually, we hit a commonly used campsite and set up for the night. After wine and birthday s’mores, it was early bed. All three campers were exhausted. We were up and at ’em an hour earlier today and made our way out of the Moose River to Sterling in another 7 hours.

Emily’s only birthday resolution was to ‘adventure hard’. Well, they say how you spend the first day of a year sets the tone for the rest, Em, so cheers to 364 more wonderful trips like this one!

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