Canoeing Finger Lake, Palmer, AK – August 28, 2013

I headed up Bogard Road and turned onto Finger Lake Park Way and paid the $5 State Park Fee. I then went to the camp host’s trailer and waited. The camp host was at another location and dropped what she was doing to facilitate my canoe rental. I chose a red Coleman flat-bottomed canoe, rather than the traditional type. The Coleman is a cross between a canoe and a row boat, and a lot more stable.

As I wrote in the Dorothy Page post, Finger Lake is one of four lakes that run between Palmer and Wasilla. It is possible to portage a canoe or kayak from one lake to the other, between any of the four. There are designated points to do this so that you’re not trespassing on private property or needlessly adding distance to your haulage. These boats weigh over 100 lbs, so one must be in at least decent shape to portage. To canoe all four lakes would take four to six hours and the camp host would meet you at your terminating lake and drive you back to your vehicle at the lake of origin. You could start out on Finger Lake, portage to Mud Lake, which runs into Cottonwood Lake, then portage to Wasilla Lake. The trip is reversible and I would discover later on that there was a canoe / kayak rental right at Lake Wasilla off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.

I would love to have canoed all four lakes, but I had other plans as my final 36 hours in the state were rapidly approaching. I took a three-hour rental and stuck with Finger Lake.

It took a little getting used to the canoe, but I learned fast. I was able canoe the complete lake from one end to the other in the allotted time.

It was around 1600 / 4 PM when I secured the canoe. My final 36 hours in the state would be spent winding down and getting ready to head home. I had to ship that model maglev to myself – there was no way I was going to check that thing on the plane. My final breakfast was not at the Mocha Moose, but at the Wind Break. In those final 36 hours, I experienced some of Alaska’s most special treasures.

I departed at 12:40 AM August 30. My flight home would take 18 hours counting the layover and time zone changes. As my taxi came within a mile of my house, I heard my Sarah Alarm go off. She had posted “As I said before, Let Allah Sort it Out” in reference to the Obama administration’s hare-brained scheme to take military action in Syria, because Syrians were bombing Syrians. Fortunately, that war was averted. I called Josh Painter, who was editing for me at the time to get the story to press. My wife, Elsy had a light dinner ready for me when I got home. After not seeing her for 10 days, I could not run immediately upstairs to put the status to press. The morning after returning home, I would be pounding Manhattan’s pavement once again as Elsy took her ballet class.

But, this pounding of the Manhattan’s pavement took on new meaning. Alaska and her treasures became part of my soul. The Marcus Baker and Knik Glaciers still captivate me. I’ll never forget the Butte and Flattop Mountain. I’ll always remember that unique color of the sky the night of the fireworks – the same night I also saw a funnel cloud forming. Nor will I forget those twilights on Lake Lucille with the sun setting 10:30 PM.

For all I had done, I had seen but a snippet of Southcentral Alaska, let alone the vast state, and I had not ventured into the truly rural areas outside the relative safety of the Railbelt.

The double rainbows I saw there on August 23 and August 24 and a single rainbow I saw here in New York five months later led to the same pot of gold….

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