Sun reflects off snow covering the mountains across Resurrection Bay from the Tonsina Point area on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 near Lowell Point, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Sun reflects off snow covering the mountains across Resurrection Bay from the Tonsina Point area on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 near Lowell Point, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Out of the Office: Best laid plans

I’ve always been a planner.

At age 4, you could find me bossing my father around a meticulously planned tea party — the water (you don’t give a 4-year-old real tea) was always served at the perfect temperature to my carefully curated guest list of stuffed dogs and plastic ponies.

Throughout high school, I was the girl you could always trust to have gum, tissues, a pen, what have you, in her purse — always prepared for any situation. I quickly became good at being the group organizer.

I’ve always hated not knowing the who, what, where or when of a group outing (maybe I should have guessed earlier on that I’d be a journalist). Jumping into weekend plans with only a vague idea of the departure time and who’s going to be driving has always seemed generally insane to me.

For a long time in college and the years immediately following when I first moved to Alaska, I would either pester my friends for said information, or make those decisions myself and shoot it off in a group text.

Like I said, I’m a planner.

That said, a strange thing has started happening to me when it comes to taking trips or going on outdoor adventures around the Kenai Peninsula. More and more of late, I’ve started neglecting certain details, either not thinking of them or not bothering to do too much research. I’ve opted to not pack for all the possible outcomes I normally would, choosing to fill the space instead with a book or playing cards.

I think what’s happening is that I’ve been on enough Alaska adventures by now to know, at least subconsciously, that they are never, ever going to go the way I plan them.

So, my brain is subtly telling me, I think: Why waste all that energy planning when it’s all going to take a big left turn anyway?

One such left turn occurred on a recent camping trip to Seward with a friend. Our objective — spend two nights at the public use cabin at Tonsina Point in the Caines Head State Recreation Area just outside Seward on Resurrection Bay. See some wildlife, do some hiking, press pause on the relentless grind of the work week. Pretty simple, right?

Our first sign that things would not be going to plan was the ongoing downpour that greeted us in Seward, followed us out to Lowell Point and kept us company during the entire hike to the cabin. To be fair, we could hardly be mad at the weather — it was Seward, after all. And the hike was a short two miles.

The second complication arose as a result, ironically, of my previous planning for the trip. Relatively little information could be found online as to how much fuel was needed for the Nordic stove inside the cabin.

My best estimates for two days and two nights based on the amount used by one family who wrote a review had us (and by us, I mean my friend) hauling in way more diesel than we would actually need or indeed manage to use.

This resulted in a two-mile hike that lasted much longer than it should have, pushing our arrival at the cabin past the sunset. Squinting through the rain with the help of our headlamps, we eventually found the structure tucked just back from the shore and set to work drying out the contents of our packs.

Dehydrated chicken and rice had never tasted so good.

Another wrench in the operation was discovered when it came to light that neither my friend nor I had remembered to buy cheese to melt on top of those gourmet dehydrated meals. A travesty to be sure, but we soldiered on.

The second day, in a way we never could have planned for, was beautiful. A peaceful sunrise cast alpenglow onto the snow-topped mountains across Resurrection Bay, and cloudless skies allowed the sun to shine down on our hike that day. A friend of mine who lives there even remarked later that weekend that rarely is the weatherman so wrong about Seward.

This unexpected fair weather twist was placed in the “positives” column for the trip.

The morning we were set to leave, Seward was back to her old tricks. On the trail that made its way from the Lowell Point trail head parking lot down several hundred feet of elevation to the beach, rain on top of more rain transformed the quaint trickles of water cutting across the trail into small rushing rivers to be hopped over.

One section of trail in particular, which Saturday had been a small creek to wade through, had turned into a tricky, fast moving impediment that required careful fording and about 10 extra minutes to get past.

Unlike the day before, we saw no locals out walking or jogging on the Tonsina Creek trail that day. The locals were smart and had thought better of it.

I reached my car at the end of the trip soaked through and shivering. And yet, nothing in my mind at that point was telling me the trip had been bad or a failure. Had it been smooth sailing all the way? No. Had it all gone to plan? Absolutely not.

What I realized is that, as Alaskans, we were prepared to be unprepared for at least part of the camping trip. We almost expected some things to go wrong. So, when things went a little off kilter, we weren’t disappointed. We weren’t thrown totally off guard.

As Alaskans, we come to expect the unexpected and are at least prepared enough to deal with challenges as they arise. We have a knack for making the best of them.

Multiple-day downpours or a late arrival in the dark or completely overestimating how much fuel needed to be carried in couldn’t ruin the fun, because Alaskans, in their tenacious, determined, slightly unhinged way, find fun in the roads less taken and in the plans gone awry.

My only advice for your future adventure planning? If you see a block of cheese, pack it.

Out of the Office is an outdoors and lifestyle column written by reporters at the Peninsula Clarion and Homer News. Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

Moss-coated logs rest fallen over a shallow creek along the Tonsina Creek Trail on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 near Lowell Point, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Moss-coated logs rest fallen over a shallow creek along the Tonsina Creek Trail on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 near Lowell Point, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

More in Sports

Soldotna junior Liam Babitt holds a grip on South Anchorage’s Britten Hamilton during the 215-pound final of the Lancer Smith Fall Varsity 2021 Invite on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2021 at the Menard Arena in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Soldotna crowns 4 champions at Lancer Smith

The Soldotna wrestling team finished fourth Friday and Saturday at the Lancer… Continue reading

Ice sits ready to skate at Bottenintnin Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska on Nov. 1, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Tangled Up in Blue: Skipping skating

I was looking forward to ice skating this winter. I had bought… Continue reading

Fall colors, a dog and game in hand make for great outdoor experiences on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: On point this fall

His eyes were fixated on the white spruce before us. We knew… Continue reading

Mariner's Micah Williamson steals the puck from the Warrior's Karson McGrew as he advances down the rink. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Hockey roundup: West wins End of Road tourney

End of the Road Tournament The West hockey team won the End… Continue reading

Sports in brief

Hockey Upcoming meets: 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18: Kenai vs. West, End… Continue reading

Alaska Olympic Development Program 2008 boys team featuring Gunnar Pinsky, Beau Miller and Kai Waltenbaugh (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)
Homer soccer players compete on Alaska Olympic Development team

Seven Homer soccer players are making their national and international debut after… Continue reading

Homer’s Gracie Gummer goes up for a kill against Kenai blockers Calani Holmes and Emma Beck during the 3A state volleyball consolation game at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai takes 2nd, Homer nabs 3rd at state volleyball

The Kenai Kardinals volleyball team fell narrowly to the Valdez Buccaneers in… Continue reading

Kenai Central’s Ayden Spann skates the puck across the blue line during a 4-1 loss to Colony during the second day of the 2021 Alaska Army National Guard Stars and Stripes Showdown on Friday, Nov.12, 2021, at the MTA Events Center in Palmer, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Kenai, SoHi, Homer finish up play at Stars and Stripes

The Homer and Soldotna hockey teams finished with 1-2 records at the… Continue reading

A Soldotna Stars wrestler goes for the pin against a Homer Mariners wrestler during the Best Western Bidarka Round Robin Rumble on Friday and Saturday in Homer. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Soldotna wrestlers win Round Robin Rumble

The Soldotna wrestling team cruised to the team title in the Best… Continue reading

Most Read