Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day One at Swan Lake Cabin in Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

One ax and one broom; one centrally located wood stove; one newly constructed outhouse; four wooden slabs for beds; hundreds of dead flies littering the kitchen counter.  Swan Lake Cabin is a gem—and it’s our home, hearth and haven for the next three days.

Swan Lake Cabin
          Minutes ago we watched our Regal Air float plane depart from Swan Lake.  It turned and disappeared over the mountains while we towed our gear to shore in the cabin’s rowboat.
We settle in at the rustic cabin.  I dispose of the flies and clean the kitchen counter while Tim unpacks our three duffel bags full of clothes, sleeping bags, pads, food, coleman stove, fuel, and fishing equipment.   
After dinner, images from Willa Cather’s “O Pioneers”  float through my mind as Tim chops wood while I wash dishes in a tub on the front porch steps.
Evening chores completed, it’s time to grab the oars and take the rowboat out for a spin.  We’re in the middle of a giant snow globe—the lake sparkles like a bejeweled necklace in evening’s low light; fluffy white cottonwood seeds fill the air.  We watch beavers swim around the lake, branches from newly fallen trees clutched in their jaws.  One large male swimming in front of us suddenly smacks his tail—hard—on the water, advising us to back off; we're getting too close to his lodge.  
        We see families of ducks journeying across the lake and notice terns fishing for their evening meals.  A female moose enters the water from the northern shore, swims to the middle of the lake, then browses and bathes for 40 minutes, oblivious to her human audience.  As we watch the moose Tim catches a nice rainbow trout.
At 10:30 p.m. we row back to shore, then start a fire in the cabin’s outdoor fire pit.  As we sit by the campfire the sky turn shades of orange and pink.  Another moose enters the water and strides across the lake, her tiny calf swimming alongside her.
Blue/black twilight envelopes us.  It’s almost midnight here on the 4th of July.  We may not have witnessed a fireworks display tonight, but we've had front row seats to a spectacle far greater—the splendid scenery and abundant wildlife of our 49th state. 

Read about our next two days at Swan Lake Cabin:

Swan Lake Cabin, nestled at the East end of Swan Lake among 2000-3000 ft. mountains, is located in the Chugach National Forest on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.
        State and federal agencies in Alaska offer 200 backcountry cabins for rent.  You can read all about it at:
         Regal Air provides charter flights, flightseeing trips, and day trips and tours to Alaska's backcountry.  Find out more by visiting this website:

The cabin's ax comes in handy.

Front yard and view of Swan Lake from the cabin.

Cooking dinner in the cozy cabin.


  1. Oh my gosh, Rita, the landscape in your photos looks like paintings - idyllic! How amazing to see so many moose (meese?) and have such a wonderful setting all to yourself. Heaven!

  2. I like thinking/hearing about all the animals living their lives--building the lodge, getting a snack, playing--parallel to all human concerns.
    Thanks for sharing, Rita!