Tutka Backdoor Trail

Summer in Alaska is crazy. We’re not exactly farmers, so “making hay while the sun shines” doesn’t really apply, but it’s the same concept that I grew up with at 45 degrees north latitude, just to even more manic effect here at 60 degrees north. The sun barely sets, so the working and playing goes on and on and on. Everyone is trying to earn as much money as they can in a four-month period. One’s hourly “day jobs” take up a bunch of time, but at least offer a paycheck. Self-employment activities… well, hopefully they are given some priority. But fishing, planting the garden, and foraging for wild edibles to pickle, can, freeze, and turn into wine is so much fun. Hiking, camping, parties, beach walks, birding, botanizing, and photography fill in any leftover time. Oh, but then there’s fixing the boat, rigging the fishing gear, painting the house, entertaining house guests, going to community events, volunteering — even the wee hours of dusk from midnight to four AM often get taken up. Berry-picking season hasn’t even started yet. Who has time for dishes, housekeeping, laundry, or writing?  Maybe sometime this fall I’ll be able to pick up the thread on those abandoned Mexico and Galapagos storylines, and finish my Bertie Journals.

Yesterday, I was finally able to get out of town and take a break from this busy and hectic Seldovia lifestyle. If you’ve read this blog before, you may remember a very soggy story I posted last September, called “Rainforest,” in which we visited the new Tutka Backdoor Trail in Kachemak Bay State Park. This week I was able to make a return visit to the trail, thanks to Bret “Hig” Higman and Erin McKittrick’s continuing efforts to coordinate volunteer construction there. If you’d like more information about the Tutka Backdoor Trail, please visit Erin and Hig’s Groundtruth Trekking website. Click here for a link.

I wonder if there is an Alaskan saying that’s the equivalent of “making hay while the sun shines”? Because I’m so busy catching salmon while they run, I’m just going to post a bunch of photos and write captions, instead of taking the time to concentrate and write an actual story.


Coldwater Taxi transported us from the Jakolof Bay dock to the head of Tutka Bay. This particular boat had a double-decker pilot house, which offered excellent views from up high.


When we were kids, Damara and I both lived in Lake Orion, Michigan, but never met until 2013 in Seldovia. Small world!


Landing craft boats are nifty: they can take you right up to shore so you can step onto land without getting your feet wet. But even they have limits. If the approach is too shallow, you may still have to wade that last bit. So, as usual when hiking with Hig, I had no choice but to follow his advice to “embrace having wet feet.”


The section of trail we worked on today goes from a new landing point to the state park’s Upper Tutka Campsite, and then connects to the original Tutka Backdoor Trailhead. The new landing spot should provide a greater range of options for landing at varying tides. Chae was game when I asked him to go pose with this big Sitka spruce tree. The new trail section is an easy, beautiful hike through mature forest.


Groundtruth Trekking’s food and supply cache for a month of volunteer trail work. The electric bear fence got turned back on prematurely while we were still in camp and accidentally zapped Libby the dog — she won’t try THAT again!


Hig and Nikki talk logistics next to Erin and Hig’s tent. This is the view looking up the bay toward the original trailhead. The Tutka Backdoor Trail goes all the way through to Taylor Bay on the Gulf of Alaska side of the Kenai Peninsula.


Kachemak Bay State Park’s Upper Tutka Campsite is next to this lovely creek. If you want to connect through to the trail, this is a wet creek crossing. There are others along the way, too. Bring sandals or Crocs if you’re one of those picky people who like to keep your boots dry.


In addition to working on the trail, I had enough time to do some birding. This tiny Townsend’s Warbler was curious, which made it slow down enough for me to get a photo. See my complete bird list at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S47162816. There’s an eBird hotspot for the trail, so you can file checklists of your own.


These kids — Chae, Renn, Lituya, Ellis, and Katmai — are all very accomplished hikers, campers, fishermen, trail builders, boat operators, and general outdoors-people. (Also pictured: Damara and Libby the dog.)


A different Coldwater Taxi boat picked us up at 6:00 PM for the return trip. This one has a stairway/ladder at the bow. Very handy for beach landings!


Tutka Bay colors.


This is what a taxi ride looks like in my neck of the woods.


This entry was posted in Alaska, Birds, Boats, Seldovia, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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