Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mid-July on the Kenai Peninsula

       Any road trip that starts with a mom and baby Dall sheep on the rocks above Turnagain Arm bodes well. We headed for Homer for the weekend, with sunshine, breeze, and dry roads. The sheep were at about Mile 107 of the Seward Highway, with another mom and baby a little further up the mountainside also drawing crowds of on-lookers.

      At Placer River Overflow just past Portage, and again at Tern Lake we saw swans. They were too far away to get good photos, and besides, they were doing what birds do in the summertime -- putting their heads down and eating.

      We got an early start, and the sun shone brighter as we closed in on Soldotna. It occurred to us that it would be fun to go watch subsistence dipnetting on the lower Kenai River, an occupation that draws thousands of urban Alaskans each July when the red salmon are running.

      We met these two young women on the trail down the steep bluff to the beach. They had four fish, caught over the past four hours, they said, and their family of six could catch a total of 75.
     They weren't the only ones catching fish. Several other people pulled fish out as we watched.

       This guy pulls his net in from the surf with his fish,

and knocks it on the head until it stops flopping.

       Here is another successful fisherman; note the person standing in the water, just to the right of him in the picture who has a fish too. Plenty of gulls were hanging around waiting for their share of the spoils.

      Lots going on in this photo -- the guy in red is carrying his net, giving you an idea of its size. The rim of the net is at the left of the picture; the end of the pole  reaches just about to the right-hand edge. The kids are playing in the sand. Hundreds of people are sitting on the beach, walking around, and down in the water fishing. It's a curved bay, and you can see hundreds more people in the distance out in the water.

      Many people brought tents and RVs and camped for several days. All those cars parked on the bluff on the other side of the bay were a small part of the total. There were hot dog tents, football games,

dogs, various methods of transport,

and constant comings and goings.

      These kids were barefoot, playing in the surf, just as happily as if they'd been at a beach where it was 85 degrees instead of 65 and windy, and the water was more like 70 degrees than 40 degrees.

     Beyond it all, Mt. Redoubt loomed, less clouded than we've seen it all summer.

      We stopped at the Russian Orthodox church just above the beach, with its white picket gate, but no fence.

     The weather was even pleasanter in Homer, with less wind, but still enough for the para-sailors at the end of the Spit.

     We ate dinner at Land's End. Saw more people with fish they'd caught; these with rod and reel rather than dipnets.

     This little boy was part of  a family group that was leaving; his job was to carry the net, and he found an efficient way to do it.

     A sailboat on Kachemak Bay, with sunlight caught on the mountainside behind it.

        An eagle watching at Land's End; behind him and across the bay are the bluff and East End Road.

       A heart in the sand; appropriate for our 34th anniversary today.

     Evening shadows.

      Wild roses for the occasion.

     Just above and to the right of the couple on the beach is the hint of Mt. Augustine, a hazy dark spot. Maybe tomorrow we'll get a better view.

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