Paddling around Cook Inlet and 'becoming one with mud'

Bob Hallinen

Yurt-dwelling Seldovia couple Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman are already well-known among Alaska outdoors types for their ambitious expeditions -- in recent years accompanied by their two young children. They faithfully document their journeys on their Ground Truth Trekking blog. Now the family is in the middle stages of an 800-mile paddling voyage around Cook Inlet, and the region's famous glacier-silt mud is proving a challenge.

McKittrick writes: It took over our gear. I pulled a grape-sized chunk of compacted silt out of my shoe, which had gained half again its weight in clay-like paste. Both shoes finally burst out the sides, as the silt squeezed out all the space for my feet. Each time I blew up the sleeping pads, I could feel the grit between my teeth. It formed a fine gray dust that rained out of everything we owned — pouring from every drybag, shaking from every piece of clothing. It mixed with the layers of sunblock to form a dark grey makeup that eventually took 15  minutes of scrubbing to remove from my face. Even now, after several days in Anchorage, I find little pockets of Turnagain buried deep within our stuff.

Follow the family's summer voyage at Ground Truth Trekking, or via their Facebook and Twitter posts.