December 4 is a family holiday we call “First View,” commemorating the anniversary of the first time we saw the homestead property. Last year, I related the story of that day. This year, I’d like to reminisce about our second visit to the homestead, President’s Day weekend, February 2005.
The most memorable part of that trip was getting to the homestead. We had taken the ferry north in the afternoon and arrived in Haines after dark. We drove to Mud Bay, and, heavily loaded with gear, set out to hike the trail to the homestead.
In retrospect, I’m amazed at our enthusiasm, if not our naivete. We’d been to the homestead only once before, hiking in with a guide in daylight, with light packs. This time would be very different.
I remember that the day had been clear and cold, and the night sky shone with stars and northern lights. We crossed the creek without incident, despite icy margins and no idea where the deep places in the creek might be. I had a pack on my back, a knapsack slung against my chest, and I towed a military duffel bag full of food strapped to a plastic sled. Aly and Michelle were both weighed down with packs. We had come for a long weekend, but we’d already decided to move to the homestead, so we carried a lot of belongings that would remain behind when we returned to Juneau.
The star and aurora light held till we found our trail head and plunged into the forest. After that, we had to rely on our flashlights. The trail is rough enough that Michelle and I carried the sled between us much of the way, stumbling and slipping through the snow.
I don’t know how long it took us, but it seemed like, and probably was, a very long time. We missed the trail only once, but knew almost immediately that we’d done so. A quick cast around returned us to the proper path.
Later, when we described the trip in to our friend, the Realtor who had helped us buy the property, she laughed and told us that we were destined to own the property—we’d found it so easily because it was truly ours.
Eventually, we stumbled through the cabin door, laid down our loads and lit the fire, relishing the feeling of having Arrived Home. It’s a feeling we’ve come to know well since, and the joy of it has not diminished!