We are heading back up to Alaska on the 18th of May for the summer season. We have guests for Memorial Day weekend so we will have lots of work to do to get the park ready. As usual, I will try to keep you informed of what is happening as the summer progresses. Lots to do this summer as we have to build a new office and complete the interior of the lodge. I also want to extend the deck area and build a campground fire pit. I hope to also do some fishing!!
I am sure that most of you know that Mt. Redoubt (55 miles across the Cook Inlet from us) has erupted again this year and is sending steam and ash into the air on a regular basis. Our neighbor Paul Elkins has been kind enough to keep us updated with pictures of the eruption. This photo taken from the same spot as the previous photo in the February blog this time showing the steam and ash rising from the volcano.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory published this photo in their May update. It’s a beautiful photo of the steam and ash rising out of the cauldron on the rear side of Mt. Redoubt. So far the ash deposit on the Peninsula has been moderate as the prevailing winds have been carrying most of it north and west. The volcano is currently building a dome in the cauldron and the seismic activity has decreased significantly. It is still steaming and expected to continue this summer. A violent eruption is not expected. We are anxious to get up there and see it for ourselves.
One last trip before we leave for Alaska for the summer. Our friends, Ronnie and Nancy Miller decided to spend some time at Wilson lake before they started back to Arkansas. Ronnie loves to fish and I enjoy it too! It was just past spawning time for the walleye and crappie and we were thinking that they might be a bit hungry. Jan and I met them at the Minooka campground about half way up the lake for a short week of fishing. Wilson lake is located about 10 miles north and east of Russell, Kansas birthplace of Bob Dole and Arlen Specter. It’s a very long lake built in the late 50’s on the Solomon River basin as a flood reservoir. The weather was beautiful although we did have some windy days and the wind does whistle down the canyon at times.
Ronnie had his boat and his brother Ed came from Hoxie with his boat. We had beautiful pull through campsites right on the lake. We could actually fish from the bank although we preferred to fish from the boats when it wasn’t too windy. Jan’s son Todd joined us from Lawrence for a couple of days and then Shirley and Dave Cooper and Gary and Janice Baalman came also. We had a great time and caught some fish. We didn’t slaughter them, but we did catch enough bass, walleye and catfish to have a wonderful fish dinner one evening.
The hillsides had some of the most unusual rocks that I have ever seen. They were a very deep red and looked like a form of sandstone or limestone that had been subjected to a concentrate of iron giving the stone it’s color and hardness. The region around Russell has quite a bit of oil, but I don’t know how that would affect these rocks.
These types of rocks occurred in many places in the park naturally usually where the water in the past had cut through the hillsides exposing them. We could see a cove across the lake from us that had a lot of colorful rocks visible. So one afternoon when the fish were taking a siesta, Ronnie took me over into the cove to photograph the beautiful rock formations with their variety of colors and shapes. BOY, was there a variety of both!
The variety of colors are just beginning to show in this hillside. Note the caves that had been washed out at the water level on the left. The upper part of these caves contained the mud nests of a huge number of barn swallows and as we motored by the air was filled with them.
Around the bend from this hill were two monoliths that had been cut from the sandstone by the wind and water and painted by the elements. It was interesting to see the variation in color from the bright greys, to dark yellow going into bronze capped off with the red rocks. Up on the hillsides the rocks were again the deep red and the willows at the right side were just beginning to leaf out in a brilliant lime green. The water is the cove was very clear and emerald green. What a beautiful picture!
Along the eastern shore were a series of rock shelves with a variety of colors and shapes. Here a tree had fallen into the water or was there when then lake rose and drown the tree. Why the red had colored the rock in this particular location is one for the geologist.
Further along the eastern shore of the cove the rocks turned from light sand to mustard yellow to bronze to dark brown. Why this difference was not evident especially as several outcroppings of rocks above the shore were red in color.
At the tip of the cove with a final burst, again a variety of colors in the rocks bidding us goodbye. From the dark reds on the left and above the tip on the bank, shifting through the light grey to yellow, mustard, bronze and into dark browns. Some of the colors are lost in the photo because the tip of the cove was in the shade. Here again a lone tree stands at the tip with it’s bright new green leaves pointing the way into this secluded cove. Unfortunately, you can only enjoy the beauty of this cove from a boat. There are no roads in the area leading to it.
Western Kansas is often visualized as a broad flat plain without much scenery to enjoy. There is wheat and corn almost from horizon to horizon. But as you begin to look around you find all kinds of beauty just waiting to be enjoyed. There are numerous lakes and reserviors promising abundant fishing and boating fun and just occasionally a peak into the wonders that nature has created such as this secluded cove in Wilson Lake.