A pair of mountain goats on Cecil Rhode Mountain graze above Kenai Lake on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

A pair of mountain goats on Cecil Rhode Mountain graze above Kenai Lake on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Mountain goats and milkshakes: the summer to-do list

I crossed a few things off my summer bucket list this week, including mountain goats and milkshakes.

The to-do list I put together in April slowly shrank as the summer moved on, with a check mark next to great hikes or “catch a king salmon.”

Then, it would grow again as I found activities to add, when the nights were still nonexistent and conversations about adventures continued long into the evening, like the Cecil Rhode Mountain traverse. It quickly moved to the top spot of my summer to-do list, and I got to scratch it off Monday.

It was a triple whammy, too. Up there on my bucket list was to see some mountain goats, and it seems like a group of them was waiting for us around every turn. I had also been craving a Wildman’s milkshake, and after nearly 11 miles and what my phone tells me was over 5,000 feet in elevation, I enjoyed every last sip of the shake and was glad to mark that one done.

But, my to-do list is unique to me and everyone’s list can be shifting until the temperatures drop and the snow flies.

I asked Jeff Helminiak, the sports editor and one of my companions on my Cecil Rhode hike, what he’d like to do before he picks up his skis for the winter.

“If I had a chance, I wouldn’t mind fishing for silvers with all the fall colors in the air, not a bad thing,” Helminiak said.

Taking down some wildlife seems to be high on several lists, including Michael Meredith of the Soldotna VFW.

“I talked to a man who said they were looking for a deserving veteran to take on a trophy hunting trip,” Meredith said Saturday at Industry Appreciation Day in Kenai.

Meredith joked that he doesn’t fit that description before grappling the logistics of his bucket list item.

“He said if you could carry a pack with 40 pounds on it, I’ve got it no problem, and I could carry 40 pounds,” Meredith said. “So I’d love to do that.”

I got a chance to ask Gov. Bill Walker the same question, but having some time off may be wishful thinking for the governor.

“I’m always in fall denial,” Walker said. “I hope I have one more night at my cabin. Partly because I’m hoping to put some things away to get ready for winter. So, one night at the cabin is what I’m hoping for.”

Danae Wilson told me yardwork was in her future, before the yard disappeared under the snow.

“I’d like to mow the lawn one last time,” Wilson told me while decked out head to toe in rain gear last Sunday. “I keep getting halfway done and then it starts raining again.”

The rain has been putting a damper on Kenai Wildlife Refuge Park Ranger Leah Ekelin’s plans too, but she’s hopeful she’ll find time.

“The last thing I want to do before it starts snowing is to go check out all the cool mushrooms after this rain stops,” Eskelin said. “And get out on a trail with a really great vista where you can see all of the coming fall season. … This time of year is cool, it gets crisp and the smells change and the mushrooms should be popping out.”

Eskelin said she’s looking forward to the first freeze, too, since that means the lowbush cranberries will be ready to pick.

“Seven Lakes trail has loads of lowbush cranberries and it seems this year will be a pretty good year for them,” Eskelin said. “I’m hoping.”

Soon, it’ll be cold enough for the lowbush cranberries, but too cold to drink milkshakes. So, as the summer season winds down it’s a great time to finish up those to summer to-do lists before admitting defeat to the cold weather and starting work on winter’s list.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

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