Huddled under tarps, we squeeze ourselves into our two small tents to keep dry. We have set up camp on a wooden platform overlooking a small waterfall on Rio Roberts creek. Our camp looks like a contemporary stellar crystal design of colored nylon and parachute chord. It is our daily woven web we design to keep the rain out while we are backpacking through the rainforest.
This leg of our journey started with a drop off at the Karta River outlet. Our first day was wet, but trail walking to Salmon Lake cabin made the miles seem fast even with a few areas of blown down trees, stream crossings and three bear encounters. We had a dry cabin for the evening, where Mara could sketch plants we have seen by candlelight.
Our next day commenced with a morning bushwack over ridges towards Rush Peak. We scrambled up a high hill into muskegs and ran across a clearcut that was not on our maps, so we re-routed slightly towards a lake. Our goal was to reach an old logging road that would eventually lead to more developed logging roads and finish at the paved road to Thorne Bay.
We used this route to illustrate the concept of boundaries and we talked about those boundaries while we hiked: boundaries of landscape and movement. We hiked from a designated wilderness area since 1990 and representative of older second growth due to fires in the area at the turn of the century. From there, we walked through a steep cedar forest and into the state land selection lands which largely represented muskeg habitats. At the clearcut boundaries of the road system, we encountered difficult blow down as a result of the open canopy disturbances caused by large-scale clearcuts. We walked from no trail to paved road in one day on Prince of Wales island-covering short distances due to overall travel conditions (bushwacking!) but crossing many boundaries and land use designations. We recognize that the diversity of this matrix would change dramatically if this land was selected and new boundaries were drawn under state ownership.
We finished this leg of the journey with a roadside pick up from our friend Mike, hot showers, great food and great friends and family in Craig. One of the truly unique aspects of southeast Alaska, very much alive on Prince of Wales island, is the familiarity of instant community that forms around adventurous spirits sharing stories.