It's winter. Which means it's dark. And I didn't feel like hiking in it, so I reserved the Berry Patch cabin at the Eagle Beach Campground (Alaska State Park).
This cabin was recently built and has been beautifully maintained by the state parks. Located at campsite #1, it is drive up in the summer and only a 0.2 miles walk on a paved sidewalk...or snow in the winter. Downstairs there is a sleeping platform with enough room for four adults. An angled ladder delivers you to the loft which has room for four adults or six if you know each other well enough for that kind of thing. There are plenty of hooks for your coats and gloves, a chain from the ceiling from which to hang you lantern, and I appreciated the counter and cupboards in the meal prep area. The cabin comes with a two wheeled wheelbarrow/cart so we didn't even have to lug our heavy dutch oven and bottled water the 0.2 miles from the car. The door has a combination lock. You are given the code when you get your reservation confirmation. We were glad the building was lockable when a man came knocking at midnight.
The Berry Patch cabin is heated using a kerosene stove (diesel #1). Mr. X and I have previously not had much luck starting one of these puppies, but somehow we made it work. Actually, when the instructions say "a couple tablespoons of oil" what they mean is when one corner of the cup starts to look damp. And Mr. X created a teepee with all the toilet paper he used on the cone. Once we got the stove going we were roasting. The whole time.
Since we didn't have to hike-in to this cabin, I wanted to try some dutch oven cooking. I had decided to make an enchilada pie. Mr. X split kindling and we started the charcoal briquettes. I assembled the goodies that I had precooked at home and put them on the coals.
Our friends arrived now, clutching each other. Apparently, their flashlight went out so they walked out with only their cell phones guiding them. Another group of friends arrived shortly after, announcing, "whew, that's my kind of hike."
Dinner was bubbling away on the coals, and when I brought it into the cabin I set it on the stove to since that was the safest place for a hot pot...only the stove was so hot the enchiladas really boiled.
After our Mexican dinner we played Mexican Train dominoes and went to sleep. Well, really I think I just roasted all night.
In the morning, I took off on a the loop trail. I looked at the tide flats of the Eagle river, crossed under the highway and took a short jaunt up the Eagle glacier trail (we've never been up there despite it's being on my list for years), part of the Yankee Basin trail and then on the planked trail around the Methodist Camp. When I got back to the cabin, I watched some of the river ice break-up and grind itself on the shore. I also watched a seal watch me. Mr. X caught up with me then and told me he had found some bear tracks in the tide flats above the cabin.
For breakfast, I had planned to cook on our tabletop stove that we bought 4 years ago (garage sale $3) and have never used, but I just set our pot on the stove and cooked everything up that way. Easy Peasy. After breakfast burritos, Mr. X burned our trash and taught our friend to use his sling. Then we all headed for home. A simplified but satisfactory outing.