Author: Janine Niebrugge
One great thing about shooting the Chugach National Forest this summer has been the opportunity to explore new areas. I have found most people feel the need to travel away from home to recreate and vacation. Or tend to frequent favorite areas over and over. Ron and I are no exception. We have our favorite trails right here in Seward and we do them over and over again. So this summer we have ventured beyond our backyard and have had a blast doing so!
The Kenai Peninsula is full of wonderful trails that we often talk about doing but seldom make the effort. This past week we enjoyed TWO full days in a row of glorious sunshine so we took advantage of this rare weather event to mountain bike a couple of trails that have been on our list for quite a while.
On Monday we mountain biked part of the Russian Lakes-Resurrection River trail. We started at the trailhead near the Russian River Campground. A beginner mountain bike rider, I found the trail easy to ride with no rocks or roots to maneuver. This would also make a great hiking / walking trail for all ages and levels of experience. We quickly made our way to Lower Russian Lake where we stopped at the Barber Cabin. What a beautiful location right on the lake where we watched three swans and a loon. There is a dock and canoe for cabin guests to use. Ron and I will definitely be reserving this cabin in the future.
After leaving the cabin we backtracked to where the trail to the Russian River Falls intersects and rode down to the viewing platform to see if we could see any bears feeding on the spawning salmon. No bears :(. We stayed a while before returning to our truck. Total trip was 9 miles. We had so much fun we can’t wait to do it again!
On Tuesday I had plans to go to Anchorage but the weather was too nice to spend inside so I changed my mind. We had so much fun yesterday that Ron and I decided to try mountain biking part of the Resurrection Pass trail. Ron has long wanted to photograph Juneau Falls. So we packed up our gear and headed down the road. We started at the trailhead off the Sterling Highway just outside Cooper Landing. Right away I knew we were in for a different experience than yesterday. This trail was more difficult with many rocks, roots and an overall elevation gain of about 900 feet with most of the climb in the first two miles. Experienced mountain bikers would take it in stride but my novice skills were challenged! About 1.3 miles into the trip Ron stopped abruptly. Hearing a rustling in the bushes below the trail he stopped expecting to see a porcupine, instead he found himself face to face with a large grizzly bear about 20 feet away. They both starred at each other for a few seconds and then the bear turned and started running through the brush. By this time I to had stopped but could only hear the bear crashing through the tall brush but couldn’t see anything. Not wanting to be stuck with a bear between Ron and myself I quickly rode up to join Ron. My heart quickened and my eyes darted back and forth looking for the bear. In what seemed like forever, a large grizzly bear emerged from the forest onto the trail about 50 feet away. I heard a woofing sound coming from the brush and more crashing sounds – there were two grizzly bears. Both bears stopped on the trail and looked our direction before heading into the forest.
Ron and I released a huge sigh of relief and collected ourselves before continuing our ride. We made lots of noise hoping to avoid another encounter. All of a sudden my pink jelly bell wasn’t such a joke! Arriving at Juneau Falls we decided to continue our ride to Juneau Lake and the Juneau Lake cabin. We reached our destination without any further wildlife encounters! Our return trip was equally uneventful and we finished the 19.1 trip wet and muddy but with smiles on our faces…just another day in the office!