My guidebook informed me that the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area offers a number of trails starting from the Skilak Lake Road. My plan was to do two three-mile hikes, but I accidentally started off on a third one. It took me about halfway through the five-mile hike to realize that I had chosen the wrong trail, but by then I just decided to go for it and complete all three. I'm really glad I did, because all of them offered spectatular, albeit very different, views.
Admittedly, there were moments where I questioned my decision to venture out in the wilderness all by myself—in particular when I found bear droppings on the path—but I was doing my very best to make enough noise that I wouldn't surprise any grizzlies. Besides wearing the bear bell on my backpack, I was more or less constantly singing as I was walking, and I have to say that I'm pretty glad that no one was there to hear me. Drinking songs, children's songs, Swedish schlager hits, Christmas carols... You name it, I sang it. And when I couldn't sing anymore, I started talking to myself. Still, I guess it worked because if I were a bear I would totally have stayed away from that crazy chick...
First hike: Skilak Lookout—the trail I was not supposed to take. (Kind of glad I did, though...)
Fireweed (rallarros or mjölkört in Swedish) were blooming everywhere.
Second hike: Hidden Creek Trail, down to Skilak Lake. Here, a moose was standing in the water, drinking, while salmon were jumping all around (not shown in the photo, so you can stop looking).
Third hike: Hideout Trail. Up, up, up... The photo really doesn't do the view justice, but you can see the Kenai River winding through the forest to Skilak Lake. Up here, I had a truly unique experience as I was looking down (!) on two bald eagles that were soaring high above the treetops. Otherworldly.
These three hikes all took a few hours each, after which I drove on towards Homer and the wonderful Seaside Farm in Kachemak. What a place! Another gem to add to my collection.
The next day started with a walk along the Homer spit.
Yeah, this is not creepy at all.
Am I the only one looking for a DC Comics supervillain in the picture above?
I'm thinking The Penguin or The Joker—or perhaps simply The Comedian?
Lots of touristy, yet cute, little shops at the end of the spit.
The rest of the day was spent browsing through the farmers market, enjoying the delightful Pratt Museum, and sipping on coffee at various cozy cafes. The locals at Seaside Farm also talked me into joining them to a nearby honky-tonk in the evening, where I enjoyed some proper American culture, far off the beaten track.
The next morning I drove east again, past Sterling and Skilak Lake, all the way to Seward—my last stop on this journey. More on that in part IV...!