Our Vie Adventures consists of Cees, Madison, Vladimir the Kitten, and a 1989 Toyota Motorhome named Vie. Cees and Madison are on the road, living the dream of every outdoor-minded couple by visiting each national park in the country over the course of the year. In celebration of our National Parks Centennial, we’ve partnered with Cees and Madison to bring you stories and photos of their yearlong quest (and of course, plenty of #vladimirkitten along the way).
Keep scrolling to see Cees, Madison, and Vladimir’s visit to Lake Clark National Park, AK. Stay tuned to Downstream for updates on their adventures and follow them on Instagram (@ourvieadventures) for more frequent updates from the road.
The last supper. Most days we eat 100 quesadillas and ice-cream, but sometimes we make the best RV food! This night we made pork chops and applesauce plus some potato wedges and fresh salad with homemade olive oil and balsamic dressing.
The next day we flew out of Anchorage with Lake and Pen Air! They were suuuuuper nice there and gave us little waters, earplugs, and candies before we took off. It’s the little things, am I right? Not to mention, this flight was one of the most epic ones we have EVER been on. It was ridiculously gorgeous. Lake and Pen Air helped us unlock Alaska’s treasures. I’m always a little nervous to fly on these little planes, but the pilots there were great and the planes totally solid.
The view from the plane.
Will I ever get used to seeing massive glaciers, beautiful, braided rivers, and rugged snow-capped mountains on a daily basis in Alaska? I don’t think I will. It never ceases to amaze me.
Without Vladimir Kitten to help us with our cute factor, we have to try really hard to make our sign photos fun. #Nearlyheadless. (Note* this was actually extremely difficult haha)
After we went to the visitor’s center and picked up a bear can and a backcountry map we headed out to Kontrashibuna Lake!
The trail to the lake was beautiful and well-maintained. I guess the rangers had just finished fixing up the trail 2 days prior to our visit. We nailed the timing! I mean, I love a good back-country-weed-whacking-swamp-sloshing soggy Alaskan hiking experience just as much as the next girl, but I’m not gonna lie, it’s really nice to hike on a good trail once in awhile.
The lower Tanalian Falls were amazing and SO refreshing.
We made it to the lake just in time for sunset and it was epic.
There were even boats and canoes left down by the lake, so we hopped in and tried to catch a few fish for dinner!
The colors on the mountains changed so fast it was like looking into a neature kaleidoscope.
We tried with no avail to catch a fish. It was a little disappointing, but what did we expect when we had no clue what we were doing?
The next morning I woke up with the noon day sun beating down on our tent, roasting me in my sleeping bag. I guess I was a little wiped out, oops. I came outside to find Cees had already been fishing, had eaten breakfast, and was hanging out in the hammock. I immediately went to the double hammock to take a nap too.
We tried again to fish even though it wasn’t the fishies’ dinner-time – nothing. It was a beautiful paddle anyway. We hardly saw or heard any other people in the area. Sometimes I really love the feeling of total solitude and sanctuary away from worldly, material distractions.
That evening the lake put on another spectacular show for us. Who cares if we didn’t catch a single fish? This view was worth waiting for.
“I’ve found that some of the simplest things have given me the most pleasure. They didn’t cost me a lot of money either. They just worked on my senses. Did you ever pick very large blueberries after a summer rain? Walk through a grove of cottonwoods, open like a park, and see the blue sky beyond the shimmering gold of the leaves? Pull on dry woolen socks after you’ve peeled off the wet ones? Come in out of the subzero and shiver yourself warm in front of a wood fire? The world is full of such things.” — Dick Proenneke
All was well and good, until Cees’ hatchet wielding capabilities proved too great and too swift.
While he was cutting this dead branch for firewood, the hatchet blade skipped on the wood and went straight into his ankle. You can watch the vlog if you want to see the wound up-close. It was pretty gross and deep. Stupidly, in our haste packing the other night, we had forgotten our first-aid kit! Such bad timing. We used a clean sock and my hair tie as a bandage and elevated his ankle to try to slow the swelling and bleeding. We didn’t even have a single Tylenol pill let alone the gnarly pain-killers that Cees needed to be able to sleep and hike out the next morning.
We woke up at a nice 4:30am and fell back asleep for a painful 15 minutes. We decided that we should just get up and hike out then – we figured we could use the “extra time”. Unfortunately, since Cees was immobile it took me WAY longer to pack up camp than I would have liked. We hit the trail by 6am and had less than 3 hours to hike over 3 miles back to the little airport. You’d think that would be plenty of time, but with gimpy hobbling at a grueling snail’s pace, we were a little worried. But really, Cees did great, he was such a trooper and tried to push it so hard.
He hiked out like a champ on his swollen, split ankle. It was intense and since I had to carry the heavy pack, we both had to get tough.
On the bright side, we caught the sunrise for the first time in awhile. We have realized that we really aren’t sunrise people. It takes way too much effort to pry ourselves out of our warm bed. I have a rule that I only want to see 5 o’lock once a day and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the AM one. Sunsets are definitely more our style.
Once we made it back to the Lake and Pen Air plane and realized we were the first ones there for the 9am flight, we felt a lot better. Cees was a superhuman for making it out of the bush alive! The flight was a little painful for him, but he knew that in a few hours he would be in the hospital hopefully riding the Percocet parade.
Sadly, Cees was in severe amounts of pain, but I was definitely enjoying the flight-seeing back to Anchorage.
As soon as we landed we rushed Cees to the hospital which was luckily across the street. The staff was super nice and helpful and had us in and out of there so fast. They took an x-ray of his ankle just to make sure the bone hadn’t shattered with the impact. They weren’t as worried about the cut because it was already healing nicely and didn’t even need stitches, which was great. Cees got some pain-killers and we made the hugest breakfast feast we could imagine. We hadn’t eaten since the night before and were starving out of our minds.
I suppose the lesson we learned here is to always be prepared. We have been safe so far on our trip but we got careless this time. If you are prepared you have no need to fear. We were legitimately scared that Cees wouldn’t be able to make it out of the bush that morning. He was in so much pain and it was so hard. There’s another lesson to learn though. You can push yourself to do incredible things when you have no other choice. He wasn’t just going to sit there in the woods, miss our flight, and wait for someone to come get him. He had to get tough and mentally push his body to move. The mind is miraculous.