Sled dogs at the Iditarod Kennels.
It was not the best of starts to day 2 in Manley Hot Springs. I woke up early to a steady rain pattering down on the tent and the onset of a migraine headache that I occasionally get. I was able to get some medication into my system and slept through breakfast and at the very least put the headache at bay (although I had the woozy after effects for most of the rest of the day). There was nothing that could be done for the rain however. At least it wasn't quite as chilly as it was the day before when the rain was coming down.
Our first stop of the morning was to visit the sled dog kennels of the Redington family. This was about a 1/4 mile walk back up the road and then another 1/2 mile on the road towards Tofty (all in the rain).
Getting a description of the parts of a sled.
As we approached the homestead of the Redingtons and walked back towards the kennel area the sounds of dogs barking at approaching strangers reached our ears. Walking around the corner we were greeted by in the neighborhood of 40 dogs yelping and running around in circles around their kennels. As we later learned these dogs loved to run. Even in the off season (which it currently was) the dogs wanted to be active and the new group of people was just another reason to work up a head of steam. We received a walking tour of the kennel and all the material that accompanies sled dog racing (sleds, harnesses, gear, dogs, etc.). We also got a chance to spend some time with the dogs, who quieted down a bit as they got comfortable with us (but that was a dirty job).
Examining the side and window of the sod house built into the ground. A woman raised two children at this location for several years.
We also spent some time inside (out of the rain thankfully) learning about some of the history of the area (see accompanying review). After a few hours it was time to head back to camp for lunch.
So we trudged back through the rain and tried to figure out what to do about lunch. Finally decided that we would do the Roadhouse for some food and to get dry as the rain was still steadily falling. Coffee and hot tea warmed the body and soul as we ate a hearty lunch (burgers and fries, mmm). Still raining by the time we were finished eating so some people decided to camp out in the Roadhouse or back in their tents, while most others headed out on a short hike outside town. A local resident (Mike) had stopped by earlier and offered his services to guide us to an interesting location not far outside of town.
A drenched group of walkers returning from the sod house location
So those of us adventurous enough to brave the rain and the mosquitos headed out into the mud for a short walk. We walked back along some driveways (if you could call them that) and stopped at Mike's home where one of his young sons came out to join us. From here we walked on a trail along Hot Springs Slough stopping to examine the many mushrooms that could be found on the ground (a hobby of Bill's was collecting mushrooms). Eventually the trail popped out on an older homestead that Mike said was owned by a woman who had raised two children at the site several years ago. The main living quarters was a very simple one room sod house built into the ground for both warmth and protection. No electricity, no phone, no gas heat, yet a mother was able to raise two daughters in the harsh Alaskan environment in this simple fashion.
Boats in the Tanana River outside Manley Hot Springs
Inside was a small amount of supplies and an old tattered notebook with instructions from the owner (the house was available for emergency shelter but the owner still wanted it to be treated and maintained as best as possible). There was also a register for people who visited to sign and so I and several others did so. Outside there was more buildings and structures on the grounds, including a smokehouse, shed, outhouse, and other storage areas to maintain all the items needed for subsistence living. Mike informed us that the daughters were grown and that at least one lives and works down near Denali where the mother spends much of her time when not in Manley Hot Springs.
We returned back to town by a different route through some more heavy rain showers that finally, finally tapered off as we reached our campsite.
Dinner of fresh salmon, pasta with broccoli picked from the garden, and a salad. Amazing what one can do with ramen and spam.
Dianna and I decided to walk a bit more and headed down the road. Eventually we reached the end of the road at the Tanana River. This large river which eventually flows into the Yukon River is one of the major early transportation routes and today still provides much in the way of food to the local inhabitants (from salmon fishing). A local resident was bringing his boat out of the river when we reached road's end and we entertained the family dog briefly while this task was attempted. After a short break we headed back to camp for dinner and another quiet evening.
Tonight we had baked salmon, pasta, and a salad (with several fresh vegetables provided from the Redington's garden). It was another delicious meal and everyone ate their fill.
Bridge Reflection Take 2 (7:00 AM) - Just a little bit crisper than the first photo from 36 hours prior.
Afterwards we again took turns to head up to the greenhouse and enjoy the hot springs. This welcome respite and relaxation would prove to be immensely needed as tomorrow would prove to be a most interesting day.
Manley Hot Springs Sights & Attractions review
A soak and some relaxation
Located in a family greenhouse, the hot springs of Manley Hot Springs are a wonderful place for a bit of relaxation in the rustic surroundings of wild… read entire review
Manley Hot Springs Sights & Attractions review
Sled Dogs and Alaskan Living
An interesting place to visit in Manley Hot Springs (OK, if your going to Manley, it's one of the few places to visit as well) is the Iditarod Kennels… read entire review