For Memorial Weekend we decided to pack up our canoe & kayak and head to Watson Lake for a remote camp out. Watson lake is located around mile 71 of the Sterling Hwy and offers 3 free camp sites next to the lake. Our plans were a little more ambitious than a campground could offer though and we loaded all our gear, kids and dog up between the two boats and headed across the lake. Watson lake is connected to two other lakes by lily pad filled streams and our final destination was an established campsite at the far end of Afonasi lake that my husband found while fishing last summer.
As the crow flies it's a little more than two miles to this campsite but with the winding stream and exploring nature of our day, we paddled much further than that. My toddler spent a great deal of time under her umbrella and I would recommend bringing one along for young children to play with on this long paddle. There was a half devoured owl along the bank of the first stream and all the kids were very interested about its outcome. We spotted a variety of ducks, an eagle, some ravens, loons and snipes along the way and all the kids enjoyed the jumping trout.
This paddle proved to be a little too long for my 9 year old and we ended up attaching a rope to the kayak and pulling him across the last lake. This is also when a head wind picked up and my husband and I had quite a workout getting us to the campsite. But it was so worth the hard work. The campsite abuts a hillside and there was plenty of good dry wood to start a fire to make lunch. There is a trail behind the campsite that we explored that evening and followed to a four-wheeler trail and stream. It made the trip feel less wild but the kids were happy to splash around in the stream before we headed to camp for the night.
We were woken by some very loud ducks at around 3AM so my husband and I started a fire to 'enjoy' the night time and have some tea. I was back to bed around 4AM and we had an uneventful rest of our night.
It was spam and pancakes for breakfast then the boys got cold playing in the lake and warmed up by sun bathed on the canoe. My husband and I enjoyed a lazy morning drinking our coffee and when it was time to get going, everyone pitched in to pack up camp.
For anyone visiting the Kenai Peninsula and wishing to do this paddle, Alaska Canoe & Campground has a wide selection of canoes and kayaks for rent with shuttle service and delivery options. They are located right on the highway in Sterling. We have rented from them in years past and found their prices very reasonable.