Up Hill!

May 28, 2020, Sitka, Alaska.  

Sitka seem a little schizophrenic.  Part of Sitka, along with the rest of Alaska, has started to “re-open responsibly” according to the Governor’s directive.  And another part is reacting to Sitka’s second COVID case.  While some places are opening up others, like the radio station, are closing in.  Volunteers are again off the air at Raven Radio. 

The new COVID case was discovered when someone went to SEARHC Hospital for a procedure.  They tested her before admission and she tested positive, so now the State is contact tracing.  I had my COVID test last Tuesday before I went into SEARHC for some tests.  Since they let me in, I must have tested negative.  (No one called me.)  This is a good time to do those routine tests that I sometimes let slip.  I called to set up an appointment that I usually have to arrange weeks in advance and got “get your COVID test tomorrow morning. We’ll see you day after.”

Suzi and I are fairly strictly observing social distancing while still getting out.  I’m not ready to eat is a restaurant but take out is ok.  One of the nice things about Sitka is there is so much “out” that I can walk trails with little danger of coming within 6 feet of someone unless I want to.  We’ve expanded our “social bubble” a little, having pizza with friends, outside, at social distance, with a separate pie for each family.  I’ve been taking advantage of the weather the last few days to double down on my daily walks.  On the morning walks I enjoy the minus tides and have posted some pictures on Facebook.  In the afternoons I have gone, if not further afield, further up.

On Tuesday I hiked the short trail to Thimbleberry Lake.  I’d been up that trail two weeks ago and wanted to see how the spring had progressed.  The skunk cabbage has lost its curled up yellow and is now broad-leafed green.  If fact, the whole trail is greener than it was, if that’s possible.  The trail takes you up past the falls to still and pretty lake. 

On Wednesday I took the Ben Grussendorf Forest and Muskeg Trail.  Ben was a former high school teacher, mayor and then Speaker of the Alaska House.  Ben was from Minnesota and our house in Harris Township was across the county road from the Grussendorf farm.  Ben’s dad and my father-in-law were hunting buddies.  Both were county attorneys. (Small world.)  I’m happy they named the trail after Ben.  He liked to walk his dogs up there.

For some reason haven’t taken it in a couple of years.  Well, I know the reason, a bear scare.  It was good to get there again.  I always find this trail to be counter intuitive.  You climb up on firm land and emerge, at the top, in a muskeg, a spongey swamp that you cross on a boardwalk.  I keep wondering why the water just doesn’t run downhill and, you know, drain the swamp.  But this muskeg is in a depression which, if it were a little deeper and less organic, would be a lake.  Little mountain flowers are just beginning to bloom.  At some angles the tea colored water reflects both the blue sky and the scrub plants around it.  In the muskeg the trees are stunted and twisted, with strands of moss.  They look like witches’ trees. 

There’s a bench at the top of the trail, in the middle of the muskeg.  I sat there and heard the cry of a raven.  I looked up and a raven was chasing an eagle.  A second eagle cut in and eventually the raven dropped out with a steep dive.  I enjoyed the aerial ballet for a while before hiking down and picking up the newspaper on my way home.

4 thoughts on “Up Hill!

  1. Thank you for your great photos! I grew up in Sitka way back when, before the whole trail system was put in. We’ve discovered many of the trails on our past visits but haven’t encountered the Ben Grussendorf trail. Where is the trailhead? BTW, I was one of Ben’s high school students.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. Beautiful to read and see. Hope to see you soon…Evy

  3. Eva, The Grussendorf trail runs from across the HPR from Old Sitka, up and over to the Nelson Logging Road where it connects with the Starrigavan Estuary Loop Trail. Evy, Me too.

  4. I love Sitka. When we first cruised in, it was like heaven on earth. Thank you for all your posts and beautiful pictures!

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