Living with Nate and Jen: My Alaskan Adventure by Guest Blogger, Chris (Supa) Battaglia

 

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit my good friends Nate and Jen. Traveling to their remote location on Chilkat Lake was no joke. I had to take three flights, one ferry, an hour-long drive, then a 35 minute boat ride. All of this was so worth it just to see my good friends. When you get there though you realize you are in a part of the world that is still untouched. As we pulled up to the dock on their property, I was greeted by two barking dogs, Tucker and DeBeau. These two dogs seem to really love life out there, and Nate says they also deter bear on the property.

The property looks very nice and is well-manicured, with steps in place to walk up the hill from the boat dock to the house. There is also a path along the garden with beautiful rocks leading you to the guest cabin. The guest cabin is absolutely beautiful and quite spacious. It has all the things one would need to feel at home. A very comfortable bed, a couch, a sink and stove, and of course a nice deck with a million dollar view overlooking Motes Mountain. The big house is also very comfortable and very spacious. The big house has solar power and fresh water that comes straight into the house. On the outside of the house they have a nice covered deck overlooking the beautiful mountains and lake. Next to this nice deck is the Alaskan hot tub, which is a wood fired hot tub. Behind this is a very fun shooting range which has many different targets of all sizes and distances. My personal favorite target was the cowbell, while shooting it with a red rider BB gun one handed. We did a lot of target practice while just sitting up on the deck having a cold beer or two and just enjoying the wonderful view. Nate and Jen also have an open deck down below from the main deck, and down the hill on the left are the three goats. They are in the process of finishing up a new boat dock and Jen’s workout room. There gardens are growing with plentiful options from potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, peppers, raspberries, strawberries, onions, garlic, and many more.

The weather was a bit cold and rainy on my first couple of days, but was still absolutely beautiful. The weather here can change in the blink of an eye. One minute it is cold and rainy and then boom the sun comes out and its warm and clear. The lake is the same, as it can be smooth as glass one minute and then white capping the next. On one or two days we were actually in the clouds. You could not see any mountains and the clouds were literally 100 ft above the lake, but the lake was smooth as glass. On clear days it is just so majestic. The mountains are absolutely the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. As you are sitting on the deck you are constantly scanning the mountains for any wildlife. You will do this all day as you just can’t take your eyes off them. On my third day, we saw a large moose on the mountain standing in a field. This moose was approximately 2,000 yards away from us on the mountain. We were looking at it through Nate’s periscope and noticed markings on its face and stomach. As we were looking at this moose we whistled a normal sounding whistle, nothing too loud. Then five seconds after whistling, this moose would turn his head and look right at me while viewing it through the periscope. For me, this was absolutely amazing that he could hear this sound, being so far away. The wildlife is just so abundant here, and not a day goes by you don’t see something new. As I never saw a big grizzly the entire time of my stay, I did see many other wildlife on a daily basis. Just sitting on the porch one morning a group of trumpeter swans flew right by me, making their way back to the lake. And then there were the bald eagles that I was fortunate to see everyday. I think not seeing a grizzly bear was a good omen for my first visit to this untouched land.

Most of my stay here consisted of looking at the mountains from the porch, and also taking off in the boat on little day adventures. Seems everywhere we would go was called Bear something. For example, there was Bear Beach were I did get to see a small black bear hanging out. Bear Beach was a really cool spot just to hang out and look at all the terrain. You could see eagles flying, ducks hanging out by the water falls, and then the largest mountain called Flower Mountain. This mountain just seemed like its own thing. Sitting in the middle of the lake views so it was impossible for it not to be in the backdrop of every picture I took. And it seemed to have more snow and ice on it than any other mountain. Also we got two buckets of pay dirt from Bear Beach to mine back at the house. Now getting this dirt meant we had to get out of the boat and walk on Bear Beach very close to the start of the tree line. I kept thinking at any time a bear could walk right out of those woods. Fortunately we were able to get our dirt and go, and then after panning one bucket found out our dirt was not so good. We did find a flake or two of gold so that was cool. Some other things we did was get out of the boat and walk into the woods. Now we both had to be armed and ready as these woods have large bear. Most of the time you need to climb out of the boat because all these places started off with climbing rather than just stepping off the boat and walking. So after you would climb up to where you were on a more manageable area, you were now being very quiet and very alert for bear. Since we were actually trying to see bear, we were being very quiet rather than being loud to deter them. After finding a spot where we could look out onto the woods from a spot up above, we would just hang out and wait to see if anything would walk past us. This for me was kinda scary, thinking a large grizzly could walk by at about a 30 to 40 yard distance. Unfortunately, we never did see a bear, but just sitting in these woods listening to all the beautiful sounds of birds and water running was terrific. This area where Nate and Jen live is called Chilkat Lake. They live on the back side of this lake towards the end of it. Everything around their house and property is just so great and beautiful. Both have put in very long days of work to get it this way.

As for life on the property, I just have to say that these two great people have done so much great work. This place is just like any other place in regards to modern amenities. They have hot shower, accessible water, lights, gas stove and oven, fridge and freezer, and my favorite is the wood fired hot tub. We sat in this hot tub every single day and it was so great and relaxing. A typical day here consist of waking up around 8am and having coffee and breakfast. Then since Nate was taking the week off from working, we would set out on an adventure till about 11am. From 11am to 12pm we would mess around on the porch utilizing the shooting range and a couple cold beers. Lunch would be around 1pm and then there would be a nap from 2 to 3. This would conclude day 1 and the start of day 2. See each day has 18 hrs of sunlight so the days are really long here. So to make things seem easier and normal, Nate and Jen call them day 1 and day 2. For me this was awesome, because we could do so much in day 1 and then do so much more in day 2. So after the nap we would wake up and start day 2 by going on another adventure in the boat. We would go to Bear Alley which is at the back of the lake and see if we could spot any bear or moose. This spot was really cool and very calm water because it was right up against a mountain that would block the wind. At this specific spot I saw a large moose, trumpet swans, duck, and many eagles. Then usually after a couple hours of exploring the lake, we would head back to the house to hang out on the porch and enjoy the views. But mostly Nate and I were shooting guns down the range. After hanging out for a couple hours just relaxing, dinner would be ready around 6pm. Usually before dinner was ready, one of us would get the wood going for the hot tub. So after dinner around 7pm we would all get in our suits and robes and head to the hot tub. This was a good spot to relax and stare out onto the mountains and lake. After the hot tub we would all sit on the covered deck and just relax some more till about 830 or 9pm. Then it was time for a movie to end our evening. After a movie and desert it was around 10pm and the sun is just now setting and its time for bed. I would grab my flashlight and pistol and walk down to the guest cabin. Flashlight was for when I would get into the cabin and not for the walk to the cabin. There was still plenty of light at 10pm. Once in the cabin I would light both lanterns and usually head out onto the porch to have one last look at the mountains. Then around 11 pm it was bedtime. So that was a basic day on the homestead. I would like to point out that every meal was made fresh. Jen is such a wonderful cook. She would have fresh pancakes, cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, toast, you name it. Each meal she cooked was absolutely out of this world. I kept joking that they were going to eat me at the end of the week.
So, as I could write on and on and on about my week with Nate and Jen, I chose to just give a brief summary of my experiences living with them. All in all, Nate and Jen have a piece of heaven that they have slaved over to get it the way it is now. And they have many more plans for the property and how to enhance its experience. I truly miss them both so very much and am so blessed and thankful that I could make this trip. Thank you to both of you for going above and beyond to make my stay a trip of a lifetime. I can’t wait to go back and explore this untouched world some more with my two great friends.

 

P.S. Vote for “Waving Nate” 2020

 

I have included a 3 minute video of my trip. It is pretty much a video from when I got there till when I left. Notice at the end of the video how the boat is sailing away from the sun. For four hours I watched as we were leaving the sun. The sun being my two friends and where they live. To think they get that much more daylight than Juneau . Anyway it was a great experience to see firsthand. Hope you enjoy the video