A Green Lining?

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Destinations, March 1999

A Green Lining?
Ten years after the tragic spill, Exxon’s loss is Kachemak’s gain

By Doug Fine

A decade ago this month, when the Exxon Valdez hemorrhaged 11 million gallons of crude into Prince William Sound, most visitors to the 400,000-acre interior of Kachemak Bay State Park, 80 miles west of the sound but still in the spill zone, were black bears, pink salmon, and floatplane-ferried fishermen. Today, the area’s ecological
healing continues slowly (only one affected species, the bald eagle, has officially “recovered”), but ironically, the tragedy has also prompted a few laudable transformations in the local landscape. As of this spring, you can hop a $50 water taxi ù and rent a sea kayak ù from Mako’s Water Taxi (907-235-9055) in Homer, and then hike 50 miles of freshly cut
trails through virgin spruce forest and lupine fields, cable-tram across the Grewingk River, and bunk at four new cabins or 20 backcountry campsites ù all funded by $850,000 of the state’s $50 million Exxon settlement booty.

If you go to Kachemak (907-235-7024), be sure to hike the 10-mile Humpy Creek Trail, which threads past wild blueberry patches and piles of altogether too-fresh bear scat before reaching Emerald Lake. More than any other such-named water hole I’ve seen, these glacier-fed waters well deserve the precious comparison.

To reserve a cabin ($50 per night for up to eight people), call 907-269-8400.

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