YUKON RIVER KAYAK TRIP - Week 1
WHITEHORSE, YUKON TO EMMONAK, ALASKA
APPROXIMATELY 2000 MILES
June 11– Sunday
– Left Bend about 10AM I just couldn’t take it any longer. Stayed up on the pass on the way to Salem at the Forest Service campground at Lost Lake. Been by it 100 times but never pulled in.
June 12 – Monday – Went by Jeff and Jeans to go to breakfast with them. Got to see Amy. They both are doing very well. Then on to Skip Fisher’s place in Sheridan.June 13 – Tuesday
– Spent the night at Skips. He is doing great. He really made some good financial decisions over the years. Should have hired him as a Mentor or the decision maker. His place is first class. Headed to Vancouver, Washington about 10AM to go see Jeff and Jimmy Nowland, George Newland’s 2 boys Mike Nowland’s brother. Both Mike and George died first of last year.
Stopped at Jeff’s 1st. Jeff also has cancer and the prognosis is not a good one. Evidently it is in his blood and bones. Very sad. I spent the afternoon with him. I have known him since he was a young boy and he was up in Alaska with all of us off and on.
Then went to Jimmy’s and spent the night. I have also known Jimmy since he was a little boy. June 14 – Wednesday
– Left about 7AM for Lance Nowland’s place in Randle, Washington. Lance is Mike Nowland’s older brother, I have also known Lance for years. He and Judy his wife were also in Alaska for years. Arrived at his place about noon.
He was in the process of putting in a small RV pad for a lady who is a disabled vet out of the Gulf War to help her out. I helped him level the pad and set the trailer. He has a great little 8 acre place. He is 78 now won’t be long and he is going to have to make a change, he just can’t keep the place up.
Both he and Judy are doing great. She still substitutes teaching.
I left for Bothell, Washington to meet with Tom from Wild River Press about helping me edit, organize and self-publish my “narrative” “A Vietnam Soldier Remembering” on my 26 months in Vietnam.
I stayed in the Fred Meyer parking lot about 5 minutes from his house. June 15 – Thursday
– Wasn’t a bad place to spend the night, no one bothered me and surprisingly enough it was quiet. I was at Tom’s at the appointed time.
Tom is quite a guy. Www. Wildriverpress.com is his website. An avid steelhead fisherman, fishing all over the world. He has published a variety of books.
The end result of our conversation is he is going to help me and the book should be ready by Christmas this year for me to give as Christmas presents.
He is also going to help me the same way with “101 Ways To Tell The World To Kiss Your Ass”. My plan is to have that done and ready for him on my way back.
After our meeting we headed to Bellingham, Washington to catch the ferry to Skagway on Friday at 6PM. Once in Bellingham I found out I needed a health certificate for Stormy so went to the Vet to get it and by 3 that was accomplished. Then we went into long term parking across from the Ferry Terminal and spent the night.
June 16 – Friday – Spent the morning getting a few things and getting some food to eat on the ferry. We also went for a long walk in a park in town. Once I checked in it was a patience thing until about 3 when they started to board the ferry and put the vehicles on.
00I put all my bags on the baggage carts and kept 1 bag and the food bag which is actually one of those ice bags. I hurt my stomach muscles and pulled both my back upper leg muscles and suffered greatly. I should have made that big red bag 2 bags. I handled the other bags easily. That one was just too heavy. It was an issue until I finally got to the campground in Whitehorse.
We had to be patient once again. Since I was a walk on we stayed on the upper deck under the solarium which was more than adequate. The ferry left on time at 6PM.2540254000
June 17 – Saturday
– The 1st night on the ferry I did not sleep at all. None. I didn’t even doze. I don’t know why. Obviously, it was a very long day. My legs and stomach were bothering me, I was stressed in such an enclosed area and I was miserable. I let a lady with 2 kids sleep on my cot, rather than see her sleeping on the hard deck. There were deck lounge chairs but not enough. I had my sleeping pad so I was comfortable. But that 1st night was tough.
00The off yellow color is because of the tint in the glass in the solarium.
June 18 – Sunday – I slept good last night. By 5 or 6 last night I was almost sick I was so tired. But I took my Melatonin and 2 AM/PM Tylenol. I woke up feeling good except for my stomach. I have pretty much walked off the soreness in my back legs walking around the ship.
I have eaten only once so far down in the galley, it was a hamburger and fries and suffered.
Lot of Coast Guard guys transferring in to Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Wrangle. None of them know Lavonne’s Justine. Also met a nice lady from Northern Ireland who is in Qatar helping that country set up a Cancer Research and Treatment Center.
Met a great couple from New Zealand who have been to the Vanuatu Islands and told me they are very beautiful and would be a great place to spend months kayaking from Island to Island.
I haven’t been reading. With my vision deteriorating, I tire easily and if I read at all it really wears my eyes out. Going to make this trip somewhat more difficult. I hope I can get them operated on soon after I get back.
Stormy has been the hit of the trip with the small kids and everyone. She is very good with the small kids. They climb all over her and she just lays there.
00June 19 – Monday – It was good to get to Skagway. I couldn’t take much more. Another day and the next stop I think I would got my gear and just paddled the rest of the way. The scenery along the Inland Passage Way is beautiful. The Waterfalls are numerous and spectacular. I have decided to kayak it in Summer of 2019 from Bellingham to Skagway. Met a lifelong fisherman with his own boat who has fished these waters all his life, he is going to help me plot the route.
Once off the boat, the motel I had made reservations at had the courtesy van there. I obviously wasn’t the only one. With all my bags, I waited and was the last one to be picked up and taken to the motel. Room was great, small but worked. I took a long hot bath which made me feel better. I am beginning to think the discomfort in my lower stomach is more a urinary thing. I don’t think it is Kidney stones I have had them before and doesn’t feel like it. I know I am peeing continually. If it keeps up going to make being in the kayak tough.
I just snacked again for dinner and went to bed early. June 20 – Tuesday
– Up early, I certainly have no problem getting up. Stormy and I went for our normal morning walk. Left her in the room and went and had a bowl of oatmeal. I had no idea that Skagway had so many cruise ships stop, several every single day of the season. Yesterday there were over 5,000 people off the ships. Today, there will be over 10,000. It reminds me of New Orleans when I finished the Mississippi last year and was there to get the van. I have never seen anything like it for basically a one main street, 6 block town. Unbelievable the amount of shops and the quality and quantity of what the sell them and what they buy.
00To be sure there are the Well Fed, The Over Fed, The Inbred, The Brain Dead, The Newly Wed and The Near Dead.
Never seen anything like it in my life. Every day all summer long. I think I could come up here in my ’29, set up and sell 30,000 copies at $20 a piece in a summer season. Do the math. I might postpone the Lake Baikal trip to see if I can next summer. The ’29 would be a hit, one of the main attractions in town and fit right in. The title of the book will sell the book. Every single day one has thousands and thousands of new impulse buyers and the 101 Ways would sell.
00We caught the bus at 2PM and the drive to Whitehorse was beautiful. The only thing is tour bus after tour bus of every size. RV’s by the hundreds and motorcycles by the hundreds. There is no break it is endless, not my style. A Couple offered to take us and the bags in their pickup truck once we got to their RV park which I greatly appreciated.
Within an hour of arriving I had the tent set up, things organized and ready to assemble the kayak 1st thing in the morning. There are pine squirrels all over the place and of course know how to tease the dogs. Stormy is in heaven. I even caught her pretending to sleep underneath a tree with one eye open hoping one would come close. She has completely worn herself out chasing them. No rain, which is a blessing as I am getting things ready. KC has been here, dropped his stuff off and is on his way to Fairbanks.
This tent Cam gave me and it is going to work very well. I just need to learn the best way to set up in it.
This is the 1st picture of the Yukon River, the main channel is at the top of the picture.
If KC doesn’t show up today, I am going to l load up in the morning and go down river and get out of here and wait for him along the bank. This camp ground is right on the Alaskan Highway and 1 feel like I am in the middle of a freeway.
#2 JOURNAL JUNE 23 TO JUNE 30
JUNE 23, Friday Day 1
- On River, I got up and started packing up, no way was I going spend another day in the camp ground. A group of 9 people, 3 guys and 6 girls from all over the United States were also packing up and getting ready to launch. One guy from Colorado had organized the trip and the all connected off the internet. The have 4 canoes and 1 small kayak without a rudder. Only 2 of them have ever been in a canoe. The guy who organized the trip has done the entire Mississippi and Missouri Rivers so he is experienced. The are going all the way to Emmonak where I am going and have air reservations for the 19th of August I believe. They plan on giving the 4 aluminum canoes and kayak to the school in Emmonak. Canoes were $300 a piece and kayak was $200 so makes sense considering what it would cost to send them out. Quite an adventurous crew to say the least. They are going to be very pushed to make the miles they have to per day to be there to make their plane.
00There was also a couple from Boston putting on this morning who have been coming to Canada and Alaska for 40 years every summer and have pretty much done every major river and tributary in both states. Quite a feat for sure. I will try to get a picture of them down the river, they are taking out where KC is also ending his trip.
I told KC I would wait for him down town Whitehorse at the canoe shop where there is a good place to stop. I still needed to get a few things, which would be the 3rd trip to the store.
Once packed up we headed down river which I think was about 10:30. Great feeling to finally feel the current moving us down stream after all the planning, driving, waiting and expense. Once more we get to start a trip with unbelievable weather. Sunny and 70 plus degrees and no wind.
At the canoe shop theY had also stopped and were finalizing things and about to launch once again.
I went into the Canoe shop and bought a couple of maps for about half way.
KC showed up about 3 and he went and got us hamburgers made from elk, buffalo and boar and French fries, about 4 to 5 inches thick and $23 a piece Canadian. The conversion rate is $1 US to $1.25 Canadian.
We launched at 4 and paddled until 8 setting up the 1st night on the Yukon River on an Island with a stiff breeze out of the S but we tucked in behind some brush.
Keep in mind the sun doesn’t go done until will after 10 and it never really gets dark. I think we went to bed about 11, way to late for me. Stormy was more than ready. What a great traveling companion. Everybody likes Stormy.June 24, Saturday, Day 2 On River
– KC is not an early riser and is not one that gets right with it. I got packed up and flew the drone for a bit. We got on the water about 9, a good 2 hours later than I like to, so we are going to have to make some changes there. Not sure yet, but I will probably pack up and just go. I like to make my cup of tea before finalizing packing the kayak and have my cup of tea 1st on the water than I have the yogurt and oats afterwards while drifting. I have a variety of energy bars, some salt water taffy, licorice both red and black, if I have them an energy drink in my day pack and of course water in the seat with me.
We hit the entrance to Lake Leberge about 11. This lake can be the most dangerous part of this trip on the Yukon. It is shallow and the wind can come up in minutes. The wind blows mostly down river out of the S. It was very smooth when we entered the lake. Our plan was to paddle the lake and get to the other end about 11, taking 12 hours to do the 30 miles. I had my doubts. I looked at the map and drew straight lines from point A to B, arriving at B which then becomes point A and so on. I had no intention of being on the open water after 1, 2 at the latest. I went straight down the lake. The way KC has his canoe set up he can only travel about ½ as fast as me and must work twice as hard. I knew we weren’t going to make the 30 miles in one day, nor should we.
I turned around once and saw KC way behind me. The next time he was nowhere in sight.
00At about 12 the wind came up from the S, which was at our back and it started raining. I was not prepared, I didn’t have my rain skirt on, didn’t have Stormy’s cover on and wasn’t dressed properly.
I headed directly for an Island on the East side which was my 1st B. I arrived at 1:30. I figured perhaps KC headed to the East bank to be closer to shore and safety if he needed to stop. I built a good fire, made a couple peanut butter and jam sandwiches and Stormy and I sat under a tree and waited for it to stop raining which it shortly did.
I gathered more wood to keep the fire going and walked to a high point to see if I could see KC, which he was nowhere in sight. I decided to go thru my gear, consolidate and eliminate which I did. Set my camp up, heated up a can of chili and sat by the fire awhile and then we went to bed. I can already see that because Stormy wants to be close to me at night, it is going to be easier for me to sleep on the floor of the tent than sleeping on the cot. Besides with the way this tent is configured Cam gave me it is better to sleep on the floor, there is more room.
00Once off this lake and back in the current absent any really bad weather I am beginning to think this is not going to be that hard of trip. But 2 days certainly doesn’t make that true.
June 25, Sunday Day 3 On River
– I was up at 4:30 and on the water and 5:30 which is the time I like to hit it. The weather was beautiful, sun shunning No wind, barely a breeze. It was obvious that KC did 1 of 2 things. He went to the East side or let the wind blow him right down the middle of the lake. The wind yesterday quit blowing at about 5 or 6 so if he continued he wouldn’t have got to the end of the lake before 1 or 2 in the morning.
Before leaving I set my sail up in case the wind came up. After consolidating my gear yesterday, the kayak packed much more easily.
00I paddled for a while and then the wind came up and I set the sail and sailed for several hours. The wind died down and had to paddle again. We got to sail again almost the rest of the way. I arrived at the end of the lake at 1:30 PM. No KC, so he obviously stopped for the night. I don’t think he is in very good shape. He smokes a combination of tobacco and pot, rolls his own. Says he has been coughing since he was a kid, mold on his lungs. He is admit the smoking has nothing to do with his smoking.
Nobody around, this is a very beautiful place. 1 guy in a canoe showed up and has camped up river from me a way. He is from Whitehorse and going to Carmacks I think.
I got my camp set up, I put a tarp up for shade in case it does rain and put the tent up right behind it, fire pit and table right out front. Great set up and I have decided to spend tomorrow here. I have caught a cold and am miserable. I only have Vicks and aspirin. I will probably get over it quickly but next time I can get to a store, will get some cough medicine and more cough drops.
00The couple from Boston went by and told me KC was about an hour behind them. So, that told me I am a head of all of them.
KC showed up and said he got tired and had to stop. This also told me the 9 kids are also behind me.
I am not sore or tired in any respect. If it weren’t for the cold I would be in great shape and it shows.
I told KC I wanted to stay here for a day and he concurred. I made a great vegetable soup out of dried soup, fried up some hamburger/onions and put diced stewed tomatoes in it. Delicious.
00The crew of 9 showed up and decided to cook up their dinner here on the bank, no room foe that size of group to camp out in the open. There is a great site in the trees off the bank, but the bugs and black flies are prolific in the grass and trees, no breeze or winds.
There are bathrooms here and the natives own the place and take care of it.
We have had no issues with mosquitos or other insects yet.
I went to bed about 9 but had to get up and I took the cot and put it outside and set the bed up on the floor and Stormy was extremely happy.June 26, Monday Day 4 On River
- I didn’t wake up until 8:30 which is very unusual for me. I don’t feel that great. I set my fishing poles up last night. The spinning reel doesn’t work so it ended up in the Yukon. The fly reel doesn’t have enough fly line. Should have checked them before leaving. Hope there is a second-hand store down the river. I can use the fly pole.
My plan today is to get caught up on the Journal, do a Chapter in the book and take a nap. I have my gear very consolidated and packing the kayak is easy.
I also plan on flying the drone this afternoon. I saw a Dall Sheep on the lake and wished I would have been able to send the Drone up. But I can’t sail and have the drone out at the same time.
Had yogurt and my cereal for breakfast. I don’t eat granola anymore, but did break down and buy dairy based yogurt. I have plenty of food.
I am going to fly fish later and hope we can have fish and rice tonight. This must be one of the best places I have ever camped on any of my trips.0000June 27 Tuesday 5 On River
- No fish. They are there because you can see them jumping. Not a lot bugs on the water. I got a good night’s sleep. We had a mouse in the tent and with everything I had in there it drove Stormy nuts. We didn’t find it until I had everything out and was ready to take the tent down. Between the mice, the frogs and the squirrels Stormy is having a ball. I was up at Little after 5, feeling much better. Laying over for a day has made a difference in the way I felt.
I was packed up and on the water at 6:30. It was an absolutely beautiful sunny morning. Slight breeze but with the river running 4/5 miles an hour a slight breeze one does not notice.
KC was not far behind me. We have agreed that since I am an early riser and get right with it, I will go ahead and go, he catches up or he stops where I have stopped for the day. We have also agreed to do an average of 40 miles a day on the average. He fishes a little bit, but does nothing else at night. So, he doesn’t like stopping early. I on the other hand have this journal, a book I am reading and 6 more, the book to finish writing, a drone to learn how to fly and a dog to play with and take for a walk. I am a busy guy.
00I stopped and flew the drone twice. It doesn’t want to work on the platform I built. I thinly it is a combination of the copper pipe for the frame, and or the solar charger, battery and inverter. I am going to play with this evening and try to figure it out. It works fine away and off the kayak.
I also caught a nice Grayling but released it, didn’t want to drag it for 20 miles.
We arrived at our camp ground at about 3:30, along with a guy from France who lives in Reno, NV and is a retired Pastry Chef. He has come up here quite often. He is also a bike idea and has his bike in his canoe. There are also a father and son from Holland and 2 more couples just showed up. Lots of people on the river.
The Yukon Quest starts tomorrow so there will be hundreds and hundreds of racers on the river, starting at Whitehorse to Dawson City. I believe it is one of the longest canoe/kayak races to participate in, in the world. They in fact come from all over the world.
Another good place to camp tonight, someone does a good job of keeping these public campgrounds clean and stocked with wood and the outhouses clean.
So far this is nothing like I imagined. Day 5, so we shall see if I think the same on day 50.
00June 28, Wednesday Day 6 On River
– Where we camped last night once again there were tables and outhouses. Something I never expected. Spending the night also were the father and son from Holland, the retired pastry chef from Reno/France, two Canadians couples who paddled the Teslin River that comes into the Yukon at this place. 3 more canoes went by with 5 guys who also paddled the Teslin.
I got a good night’s sleep. I have eaten good, will once again try to catch some fish when I am done getting caught up.
I left at 6:45 and paddled 43 miles arriving at 1:30. That is an average of 6 miles an hour. We compromised last night, KC wants to do 50 miles, I am happy with the 30.
But 40 or more miles is easy on this river especially if you get up and get going. I am beginning to question if KC is going to last with me. Guys who have smoked a lot of dope all their lives are a little goofy.
There are plenty of places to camp. The only animal’s I have seen was a Dali Sheep on the lake, some beaver and bald eagles.June 29, Thursday 7 On Water
– There are no shortage of good places to camp and they have all been used extensively. Last night was no exception. I went to bed about 8. 1 don’t go right to sleep but it doesn’t take long despite it not getting dark. I was awakened at 3 by the 1st paddlers of the Yukon Quest. I never really went back to sleep so I got up at 4 and on the water at 5. Lots of the race participants all day, I arrived at the 50-mile predetermined camp spot on an Island at 1:00. One hopes that camping on an Island means no bears or porcupines. Stormy was up most the night chasing squirrels, mice and rabbits. She caught a baby rabbit, I probably will never break her of that. She kills rats down on the lake often.
00This getting on the water early and making the miles for the day by 1 or 2 is great. It is barely 3 and I have camp set up, kayak cleaned out and cleaned up, went thru all the gear again and consolidated. Got clothes ready to wash tomorrow morning in Carmacks and a grocery list and a few odds and ends. I have also practiced flying the drone. Have no idea what is available but will know by 10, we should be there by 8 or at least I will, it is only 5 miles an hour’s paddle.
When it comes to the drone. I don’t think the solar charge and battery storage put out enough Amps to charge the Drone batteries. Also, my idea of flying it off the kayak won’t work because I think the Titanium frame creates a magnetic field/metal interference. It works great on the sand bars away from the kayak. I am also hoping there is a library or Wi-fi spot so I can get some things accomplished and communicate some. I didn’t realize how much I would miss doing so.
00One of the many all women participants in the Yukon Quest race of 450 miles.
#3 JOURNAL JUNE 30 TO JULY 5
June 30 – Friday – Day 8 On Water
– As I mentioned in the last Journal on Thursday I arrived at the camp at 1. KC and the Pastry Chef arrived at 5.
The Chef got knocked out of his canoe about 3 and he was freezing. He got too close to shore, was watching some of the racers and a “Sweeper” a tree hanging out over the water close to the water knocked him backwards out of the canoe. A couple guys helped him get his canoe and back into it.
00The Chef in his blanket coat trying to get warm while I built the fire.
I built a fire quickly and he got out of the wet clothes and it wasn’t long he was warm and changed his clothes. A disaster if one were to be by himself. That is exactly why I hardly ever paddle close to the bank. Another reason is I don’t want a Mama Grizzly bear jumping om me from the bank.
KC didn’t see it happen. The way he has his canoe set up he rows going backwards most of the time. He doesn’t see a lot going on and misses a lot. He also is not as fast as my kayak.
00We were up by 7 and I shoved off at about 8 and was at the boat dock in Cormacks about 8:30. Once I secured the kayak and changed out of my hip waders into my shoes, Stormy and I headed to town. I stopped at the Visitors center and plugged in the drone batteries and my battery pack. There has been no sun for the last 2 days so no Solar charging.
Then I stopped at the Rec. Center and found out they open at noon and I can use their Wi-Fi. Then we went to the grocery store and what a store. Unbelievable a little road stop like Carmacks has such a thing. I bought $200 worth of food and “stuff” and we went thru the checker and my debit card declined 3 times. The Manager, a great guy let me use his computer in his office and I checked my Mid Oregon account, Plenty of money. I had not wanted to use my cell phone because of the international rate charges but I called Mid Oregon and sure enough the Fraud Company put a hold on my card because of the out of country charge. I had forgot to let Mid Oregon know I was going out of country. They know now. Once I got that taken care of the Manager and I by now had become quite acquainted and he gave me a ride back to the boat dock.
Here is what I bought, thought it might be enlightening or entertaining:
Bag of oranges and 2 different kinds of apples, 6 bananas, a lot of pastries, some brownies, 2 cans of chili, 2 cans of fruit cocktail, 1 can of diced tomatoes, lb of ground hamburger frozen (I fry it up with onions then put some in the chili or mashed potatoes),1 onion, 10 red bull, 2 cans of tuna, 3 cans pop size V8 juice, box of large zip lock bags, small box of smaller black garbage bags, 1 small green can propane, 3 bags of ice, large container of yogurt, small block of cheese, loaf of bread, (I like making a peanut butter/jam sandwich and put it in my day pack), 6 packages of pastas, 3 packages of rice, 2 packs of brown gravy, 4 bottles of water and a 20lb bag of dog food.
Once back the store/motel had a Laundromat with showers. I washed and dried and took a shower. Then I went to the restaurant and had a Hamburger and fries with the Manager of the grocery store. Then I went to the Rec Center got caught up on the Wi-Fi and then stopped at the Information center and got my stuff that was charged up and went back to the kayak and finished packing and got my hip waders back on.
I have consolidated my gear and with being a good week on the river I managed to get it all packed. I am heavy but when we get to Dawson City on Thurs will top everything off and I can go for a good 2 to 3 weeks.
Stormy and I were both ready to get out of there. KC showed up, he had stopped at the campground and did what he wanted to do. He operates a lot different than me.
00The Pastry Chef decided to end his canoe trio after the dunking and ride his bike the remaining 250 miles to Dawson. I don’t remember if I mentioned it or not, bur he had his bike broke down in the canoe. He is quite a guy for 65 I think he is.
We left at 3 and paddled until 9 and did 40 miles. We were both very tired, long day. We found a good camp on an Island and both of us were set up and asleep by 10.July 1 Saturday – Day 9 On Water
– We were up at 7 and on the water at 8. We stayed together for the 1st couple hours. I spotted a Grizzly with 2 cubs up on a slope, the sun was shining off their very light brown hair. I hollered several times and she heard me and stood up on her hind feet, her cubs got to her and hey headed up the hill to a ridge line then into the tree line. They were to far away for a picture but close enough for good viewing. They are the 1st bears we have seen. KC didn’t see them because he was rowing backwards.
Then I got out ahead of him and found another good camp on an Island at 53 miles and arrived here at 3:30, once again making very good time. Here it is after 5 and still no KC. I did take my sail down that is red and white and put it on the end of the Island on the side I am. He won’t see it if he is rowing backwards and hope he comes down this main channel I am on. There are 100’s of Islands so it wouldn’t be difficult to miss one another.
00Sun July 2– Day 10 On Water
- KC showed up about 6 and got his camp set up. We planned the next day’s stop 50 plus miles. I slept good once again. Still sleeping on the ground. I haven’t had to get up and pee lately at night so that helps sleeping on the ground.
I was up at 4:30 and on the river at 5:45. Today I saw 3 black bears, 1 moose, 3 beaver and several bald eagles.
00It started raining about 11 and rained all day. I ran into the 9 kids and passed them. They say they are on schedule to catch their flight out of Emmorak on the 19th. At the miles, I am doing I may get their about 6 days or more before them.
I got to the predetermined Island at 3:30. Still raining. Got tent set up and things arranged. Also built a fire. KC showed up at about 5:30 and it quit raining shortly after that. The sun came out and I got everything dried I needed to.
00Stormy had a rough day.
KC and I once again decided to camp on one of a couple Islands 50 plus miles again tomorrow. Doing 50 miles is very easy on this river with the current there is.
I am sure I will be up early again. I flew the drone once again and feel much more comfortable flying it. I don’t take it high or send it out far. I need to figure out the recorder so I can narrate on the videos.
July 3 Monday – Day 11 On Water - Up at 4:30 again and on the water at 5:45. Just works for me. It was raining again when we woke up but quit just as I got out of the tent to start packing the kayak. I always try to be ready for rain, have my rain coat in the tent and of course wearing the hip waders. My feet have not got wet or cold one time. They also give me arch support and confidence getting in and out of the kayak.
It never rained again, cleared off about 11 and stayed that way until we did the 50 miles. I got confused on where we agreed to stay for tonight. The White River came in to the Yukon about 4miles back. It is heavenly laden with glacier silt. So it has turned the water a very milky light brown and has. Completely changed the dynamics of the river water. I have stopped on an Island in the main channel and put my sail up on the end of the Island on the side I am on.
A thunder storm, a good one has hit with both lightning and thunder. It has kind of circled around me so I haven’t got a lot of rain. But the temp has dropped significantly. KC might have stopped to get off the river with the lightening. KC never did show up.
July 4 Tuesday– Day 12 On Water – Up early again at 5. It had been raining but quit when I started to pack the kayak. Got my breakfast made and hot tea and hit the water. I had decided to paddle the 67 miles to Dawson rather than make camp again ND have to break it down and only go 20 miles at the camp ground we are going to take a day at.
It got colder and fogged up. Very difficult to see. There are enough challenges as there are without the fog.
0010 miles down the river I saw KC camped on an Island. He said he didn’t see me but that is getting to be standard practice for him. It is him rowing backwards.
At 22 in the afternoon it was 80 degrees and that is hot on the water. I arrived at the camp ground at about 4:30, very tired. Got squared away, had something to eat and KC showed up. I was asleep by 10.
July 5, Wednesday Day 13 On Water – I was awakened at 2AM by a guy with a black hoodie stealing my little camp stove. It was sitting on a table. I hollered at him, got the zipper to the tent down and Stormy took out after him. He dropped the stove but later I realized he also took a pair of shorts. There are a lot of unsavory people in Dawson.
I was in town by crossing the river on the ferry. I washed clothes, bought supplies, had breakfast, took a shower, on the internet and it is 3. No easy way and the worst part of these trips. I can’t wait to get back on the river.
Stormy doing what she does best.
#4 JOURNAL - JULY 5 TO 12
July 5, Wednesday - Day 13 On Water
– I sent out the 3rd Journal on Wens afternoon from the visitor’s center in Dawson. It took me all day to wash clothes, take a shower, give Stormy a bath in the river, buy groceries and a few things, have a nice steak dinner, baked potatoes and ceasers salad. What killed us was the almost 2-mile round trip walk from where we camped, take the ferry across, walk into town and then walk around. We did it 3 times. That is what it took. All I had to do was stop for the night few miles upriver. Hit the bank right in town at 8 And I would have been done by 12 and back on the water. It is just another example why I don’t do these trips with someone. I also wore the shoes Cam had given me with no socks and they chafed the hell out of my feet. Very stupid.
00July 6, Thursday – Day 14 On Water
– My plan was to get up early and get out of there. Didn’t happen that way. As I was packing up I dropped the camp stove on the face/glass of my notebook. Shattered it. Nothing worked although it would come on. I am obviously upset, this means no more pictures, videos or Journal. Let alone work on the book.
I do have a tablet for the drone. I decided to go back to town one more time to see if I can get some help. I found a guy named Patrick from Cheslovokia who worked at the Visitors center. There was nothing he could do. I got another bag of ice, few more things and headed back.
I finally got packed up and on the water about 11:30. KC has gotten a very bad rash/infection on his left cheek butt. He has decided to go to the clinic. I am going to go 20 miles, then 30 next day for him to catch up.
00This picture was taken with the drone.
Stormy and I stopped at what is called 12 Mile River. The water is crystal clear and a very beautiful place. I tried catching some fish. No luck. We went for a walk and saw fresh moose and wolf tracks.July 7, Friday - Day 15 On Water
– Both Stormy and I slept hard. Some guard dog she is, she has been going to the bottom of the sleeping bag. However, I know she is very sensitive to noise and her hearing is phenomenal. We got up at 6:30 and what another beautiful morning. We were on the water by 7:30. I was not in a hurry because we are only going 30 miles to a predetermined camp spot to give KC a day to catch up.
00They say this part of the river is the most scenic and I agree. I spotted some ice up in a creek bed on the north slope. I managed to get to shore about ¼ mile down stream and loaded up my ice bag that surprisingly enough has been working great.
We arrived at the camp spot about 1. It is a good one Government run, at the Confluence of 40 Mile River. It is a Heritage site run with the Natives. It is here, 40 miles upstream that the 1st gold was found that started the gold rush to the Yukon. There is also some archeology work going on. KC showed up about 4. He did get to the clinch. At the visitors center they sent him to a Native Lady for some salve made from Birch sap. We shall see. More mosquitoes here than any place else. Up until now I don’t think I have been bit 3 times. I got the notebook out and figured out I can turn the computer on and use the mouse. I just can’t use the touch screen. Tomorrow we will see how easy it is to take pictures and videos.
00July 8, Saturday - Day 16 On Water
- I was up very early and on the river by 5:30. It was later I figured out it was 4:30 Alaska time which meant I was up at 3. It was a beautiful morning until about 10:30 and the wind came up blowing up river. I stopped for 2 hours hoping it would lessen up. It didn’t. We took off and all I did was keep the kayak pointed in the wind and tried to keep us in the current. It is still very warm. Before long in about an hour longer than normal we were in Eagle.
Once I tied up and got on top I was right in the center of town, about the size of Tumalo. I asked a couple in a motor home from Nebraska set up on a nice lawn in front of a nice log home if I could stay on the lawn over in the corner. She said I would need to ask the lady in the log home. When you are on thru river and cross the border from Canada to the U.S. you need to go to the Laundromat and use the Yellow phone in a box outside on the south wall. It is a direct line to the Customs office in Circle, which was what I did.
Then I went back and asked the lady if I could set up my tent and she said yes.
I got set up, got a few things at the store that was closing and found out the library has Wi-Fi 24/7. I was very tired. The wind was still blowing and a storm was coming. KC hadn’t showed up yet. He struggles in the wind with his craft.
The storm hit and it really rained and blew. KC showed up about 8 and was wet and tired. He had stopped about a mile out of town at a boat dock. He had gotten a ride into town. He walked back and camped there. He had to have had a miserable night. I have yet not been unprepared. My hip waders and the tent Cam gave me is making this trip.
We were up at 4, thinking it was 5. I bought a cheap watch at Walt Mart in Whitehorse and hadn’t changed it. I got the kayak packed, went to the library and then Stormy and I set in front of the new hotel/café and waited for it to open at 7. I had biscuits and gravy with 2 eggs, sausage and hash browns. Then a cup of tea and a piece of blueberry pie. KC showed up about the time I was done. We talked a bit and planned on another 50 miles.
00We both left at the same time. It was beautiful, complete opposite of the day we had yesterday despite it starting the same way. As we left town there was this huge beautiful granite wall. I stopped and got the drone out and sent it up and took what I hope is a good video. I am getting better at flying the drone. The day remained very nice. Hot once again and little breeze.
I got out ahead, stopped a couple of times and we had another good camp spot on an island. I flew the drone once again. I even flew it off the kayak so I am not so certain there isn’t a glitch in the controller and or drone or both.
July 9, Sunday - Day 17 On Water
– I am going to let this day pass.
July 10, Monday - Day 18 On Water
– We got up to the wind blowing once again. I decided to once again let the current do most of the work. I stopped about 10 and put Stormy’s cover on and put my rain skirt on. It started raining but not hard most of the day. Very tough day. KC was beat by the time he reached camp. He was cold and very tired from rowing. He put his tent up, got his bed rolled out and climbed in. We both were in bed early. It rained very hard throughout the night. But this tent once again kept us very dry and warm.
00July 11, Tuesday - Day 19 On Water
– We were up a little later. The wind was still blowing but not raining. I don’t like sitting on the bank so once again I decided to get packed up and go. We decided to do 40 miles instead of the 50 miles we have been doing. It blew most of the day but about 3 it died down and cleared up a bit. At 6 it has completely changed directions and is blowing pretty good. I am very comfortable.
I fried up a half of onion, made some gravy and put the onions in the gravy and the made some mashed potatoes. It was very good. Last night I fried up some onions and put them in a can of chili and had a bagel. For breakfast I had oatmeal, can of V-8, a bagel with cream cheese. For lunch in the kayak I have dates, cookies, apples, oranges, energy bars and a few sweets. I repack it every morning.
So far it is working good with me using the mouse to type, take pictures and videos.
We will be in Eagle by 8 in the morning.July 12, Wednesday - Day 20 On Water
– Up at 4 all packed and can’t push off. Thick fog. Too thick from a safety aspect. There is some maneuvering to do thru some islands to get to Circle. Circle is only 2 hours away. Once the fog clears it feels like it could be a nice day. I had planned on it being a full Circle day anyway.
00We waited till 8:30 and I and Stormy pushed off. A mile down river no fog but a lot of smoke. We got to circle about 11. I changed out of my hip waders into the walking shoes and headed to the store. Two hours later had bought what I had on my list, charged up what I wanted to and KC was done and we headed out and did another 30 miles before camping.
One of the Native fisherman named Mike we met gave us about a 6lb Chinook, which meant we were going to get to have fish for the 1st time. As we were leaving Mike mentioned he was an Iraq war veteran. I mentioned I was in Vietnam. Then he casually mentioned he was with 101st Airborne. Then we both realized a bond. Then I said I said my unit was B 2nd 502 Co C. He looked at me and said that was also his unit. Very few know this but it was the unit that was sent into Mosul to get Saddam’s 2 sons. It was the first person in 50 years I had ever met that was in the same unit.
00Once camp was set up, I flew the drone. KC built a fire and cooked the fish. I had bought some Texas garlic bread not knowing we were going to get the fish. Fish was excellent. So was the bread.
I hadn’t prepared for rain so was up about 12 putting the cover on the tent and the covers on the kayak seats. 1st time the mosquitos got me.
#5 JOURNAL - JULY 13th TO 21st
July 13, Thursday - Day 21 On Water
– Another night of camping on an island. Certainly, no problems finding camping spots. Particularly in the Yukon Flats. Stormy and I are both tired. Fort Yukon is 90 miles from Circle. I have a feeling KC and I are going to be having a parting of the ways.
I ran into a woman, Lisa Fredric and a young guy from Germany. She in a Fobot Kayak which is like mine. He in a canoe, a knock down he brought with him from Germany.
Upon talking to her, she knows Steve Calhoun very well. She is from Kodiak, and Steve had the Royal Quarry based out of there for years. Her brother who just recently passed away worked for Steve on the boat for years.
It is my intention to hit the water early, get to Fort Yukon. There is cell service, store and internet so once again after the stop I should be stocked up and caught up.July 14, Friday - Day 22 On Water
– As planned I was up at 5:30 and on the water by 7. KC was in a very sour mood.
I was in a lagoon at town by 9. It took me close to 1½ hours to send some texts and make some phone calls. Lisa and the young guy showed up. KC also. He came over to me, made a few smart remarks and I told him he needed to “take off”. He did.
I had to make 3 trips but got everything done. Total of 3 miles. You aren’t going to get any help from the natives. We left town about 3:30 and only paddled an hour. With those few miles, I figure 200 miles left for Dalton Bridge, 5 days.
We had another good camp spot and slept well.
July 15, Saturday - Day 23 On Water – Up at 4 and on the water at 5:45.
This part of the trip is tricky and stressful. I have no map nor GPS. Phone doesn’t pick up GPS/maps like it did on last years trip. I am trying to stay in the main current. All this water ends up at the same place, at the end of The Yukon Flats there is a canyon that channels all this water. Up until about noon I did good. I even went by Lisa and the German.
We stopped about 2:30 that is close to 9 hours on the water. It is hot again, good wind up river out of the west. River has changed direction from North to West. We are now headed for the Bering Sea. I know I took the wrong channel, but there is lots of water and current. It all goes to the same place. If Lisa and her paddling partner come by later it would get rid of some anxiety.
Today I saw a moose. A small black bear. The moose was in an area between 2 islands. The bear was on shore playing in the water. It came out of the trees just as I was going by and there was too much current to get close enough for pictures or a video.
I also saw a Bobcat/Lynk swimming across a very wide channel. I managed to get pictures of it swimming and exiting the water.
It is very hot. It looks and feels like thunderstorms coming. I am ready at 5. One of the distinct advantages of getting on the water early.
It didn’t storm but there was some thunder and lightning.
I am going to sleep with some anxiety to how long it is before I hit the main channel.July 16, Sunday - Day 24 On Water
– I wake up early so when I looked at my watch and it said 4:15 I wasn’t surprised because that is the routine time for me. We got up and Stormy was a little slow about it. When I took the 1st load to the kayak I looked up and down river like I always do. There was a big black bear up river about 100 yards away. Needless to say, the packing went rather quickly.
All I could think of that bear was thinking “Hmm, I wonder how well fed that Stormy dog is”.
We shoved off and as I was attaching my watch to the kayak as I do every morning I noticed the watch read 11:45. The sun was setting not coming up, Stormy was looking at me the whole time like I was nuts. Nothing to do now but go forward.
We entered the main channel 1 ½ hours later to great relief. Soon a native fisherman in his boat came by. I started seeing gill nets and soon saw a couple fish camps. All this confirmed I was where I needed to be.
I got tired and sleepy about 4. We stopped and I got a tarp, my sleeping pad and bag and we slept for 3 hours. On the water, again about 7. This is 2nd day of wind, enough to blow the dust and sand off the beaches.
We stopped at 1:30 on an island just next to the Native Fishing Village Beaver. I had to walk a good distance to get us set up but we are out of the wind. Mosquitos have not been a problem but the horse flies are a nuisance. Once evening comes they disappear which really helps.
1st day I am beat. I shaved, did a little sponge bath, will eat good and should feel good. I would like to think that by midmorning we will enter the canyon and be on our way to the Dalton bridge and then Tanana 90 miles or so.
July 17, Monday – Day 25 On Water – I am glad we stopped early yesterday. I was extremely tired. The only mistake I made was not going to the fishing village and filling my water bottles before camping. I couldn’t get there this morning because of the current. I should have bought a gallon of water in Fort Yukon.
I finally ran into a native family leaving their place/fish camp they call Purgatory. It was about 2. Once they told me where I was and that I still had about 80 miles to go to get to the Dalton Bridge it confirmed I certainty wasn’t going 50 miles a day anymore. Which is what I was expecting. We took our 2nd break about noon and stopped at 3:30 and are all set up. I found a spot right on the bank. Last night being so far off the bank makes it difficult.
All the wind and sun makes for a very hot face this time of day no matter what. An afternoon shower is passing over but we are all set up. I hope to fly the drone.
I have only 1 midsize bottle of water left, stupid on my part. There should be a native village by noon I hope.July 18, Tuesday – Day 26 on Water
– Long day today. We were up again and on the water at 5:45. Beautiful morning, not even a breeze, water was very smooth
I had the drone on top and flew it off the kayak. My initial thinking the titanium frame might be interfering, not so. I flew taking a video of us in the kayak. I flew it a 2nd time later in a pretty spot. Both times I placed the drone at the right height andleftcenter
let the current take me to it. I grab the strut with my right hand then turn it off on the controller with my left.
I was determined today to get the next Native Village no matter how long it took. I ran into a couple guys and they said it was 25 miles. They also confirmed the canyon was anther 10 and the bridge another 20. We arrived at the village at 5:30. We stopped 3 times. That is a very long day paddling for anybody at any age.
We filled up my 7 water bottles and left. We have camped in sight of the village, this time in the shade. What a difference to be in the shade. I only ate a can of apricots last night. I had an orange and 2 candy bars today is all. As soon as I got set up I made some oatmeal and feel much better and have drank 2 bottles of the water. I have thrown away the cheese, summer sausage and the yogurt I had left. Won’t buy any more. If I do ice anymore it will be for drinks only for a few days, no more perishable foods, it is just too hot.
I shaved, took a sponge bath with clean water and put clean shorts and a shirt on. For a couple of very long days I don’t feel to bad. I would expect to be at the Dalton Bridge by 2 or before. I will eat something at the restaurant, fill my water bottles and get more if I can. In 4 days, I should be in Tanana
July 19, Wednesday – Day 27 On Water – I got hit last night with 1 of the worst cases of Diarrhea I have ever had. Had to be the water from the Villages community water source. My stomach is churning. I managed to get us packed up and had to pull the kayak along the shoreline to get back to the main channel.
What a long day. I went thru 2 rolls of toilet paper and have finally restored to going in the water and getting clean that way. Should have thought about it sooner. It certainly hasn’t helped that the only water I had is the very water that made me sick.
We got to the canyon about 11 and arrived at the Dalton Bridge about 3. I was hoping to find a good ice-cold creek for good water. The hills are not that high or big. They are all dried up.
Here the 4 canoes/1kayak …6 girls and 3 guys are camped. One of the girls gave me a bag of tang and her Yukon Guide book, the 1 I should have gotten. I went to the restaurant and had 2 Ginger Ales and a bowl of ice cream. Then we went down the beach a way and made a shade cover out of a tarp and the tent. It was too slopped and way to hot for the tent. I leveled out a place big enough for the sleeping pad, put a log about my length on the down side under the shade cover, laid down the tent bottom, made our bed and laid down for a couple of hours.
We went back to the café and I ordered another Ginger Ale and a fried cheese sandwich but could only eat half. Not a lot of food and calories for all the energy I am expending. As you all know, I don’t say much, but this is a lot of work. I am paddling most of an 8 to 10-hour day. The setting up and breaking down camp twice a day is no easy task in itself.
We were down by 10 and I felt like I was feeling better. If nothing else I knew I could go to the Health Clinch in Tanana.July 20, Thursday – Day 28 on Water
– I went up and had a bowl of Oatmeal with raisins, blueberries, brown sugar and milk. I tried the internet Wi fi for the 2nd time to no avail. Lot of these people up here try to use the excuse for their lack of services it is remote. It is 2017. Remote has nothing to do with it. They are just being Stugoofids. Stupid. Goofy. Idiots. Unshaven. Dirty. Very unkempt. Disorganized.
I had to wait until 8 to call Mid Oregon Credit to see where I was on my account since I couldn’t check on line. The café let me use their phone and I have a calling card. With that done we were on the water by 8:30.
At 1:30 a huge thunder clap hit right behind us. Very loud and long. The river had turned east for a big horseshoe bend then we would turn west towards the sea again. The canyons were steep and high. I turned around and a huge thunderstorm was coming straight for us with a sheet of water. I had to paddle across and down the river to be able to get out and get set up. I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I managed to get the tent set up but not the cover. The wind hit us 1st along with continual lightning and thunder. The tent blew down and immediately filled up with sand. With in seconds the rain hit and it was a wall of water with continual lightning and thunder.
Fortunately, it was warm. Then the tent was full of mud. I got it up and the rain cover on and got my chair and a few things including the sleeping pad and sleeping bag. All this time Stormy is up in the thick willows drenched with her tail between her legs and once she saw the tent up she made a beeline for it. I had also grabbed her bed. I took my wet clothes off, cleaned the tent the best I could with 2 towels and we both dried off with another towel I had in my clothes bag and we crawled in the bag. By now it is 2:30.
At 7:30 the storm had past. I took everything out, cleaned the tent good and got everything squared away. I was feeling better so I heated up noodles with currying sauce. It was very spicy, only ate half of it. About 9 3 guys from Norway in a good size canoe stopped by. I had seen them in the café at the bridge. They had paddled thru the storm which I had thought about doing and maybe should have. I can be water tight with Stormy’s cover and my rain skirt and rain coat. I was concerned with being on the water and the lightning.
Considering the amount of time we have been on the water and that so far has been the only storm there was nothing to care about. Things dry out so fast.July 21, Friday – Day 29 on Water
– Same routine up early and a good day. Beautiful weather. I did a lot of drifting and even got to sail for about an hour.
#6 JOURNAL - JULY 22nd TO 28th
July 22, Saturday – Day 30
on Water – I knew I couldn’t make it to Tanana so decided to stop about 15 miles upriver then get up early as usual and get there about 10 and try to be done by 3. The Norway boys caught up with me, they stop much later and start much later. We paddled alongside each other for a while.
As I was trying to find a camp when a boat with 2 guys and 2 young adults stopped and we chatted for a while. Turned out 1 of the guys had been up there for about 40 years, a retired surgical nurse there at the hospital in Tanana. Imagine that. A bit of a character to say the least. They said they were on there way down river to get a king salmon for dinner and would I like to have dinner and spend the night. I jumped at the chance since I hadn’t had much to eat for days. It took me another hour to get to their place.
I unloaded my bed, pad and a few things and laid my pad out, got the umbrella out for shade and lay down and took a nap to wait for their return. Hour or so later I went to the creek and rinsed and filled my water bottles with very cold water, the best I have had in a long time. About that time, they returned.
The one guy who has been around for 40 years is Mike McCoon. One of those guys who has been every where and done a lot. Pilot, author, is one of the real life guys on the Discovery show on the Yukon. We had a great dinner, salmon, fried potatoes and a good salad. It really helped.
The other guy was from New Orleans. His family lives in Homer, AK and was there helping Mike, doing the cooking. The two young kids were from Sweden, Mike had met them somewhere and Mike was giving them an opportunity to experience some Yukon style living.
I slept in the guest house, a tent they had set up just for that. Stormy once again had fun chasing squirrels and everyone just takes to her.
00July 23, Sunday – Day 31 on Water
– I was up at 5 and packed by 6, ready to go. Mike was up, we exchanged contact information, he gave me a copy of the 2 books he had published and we were on our way. I anticipated getting to Tanana by 11. We got there at 11:30 with the wind howling as we came around the bend. I was here when Dad, Mike and I put in at Nenana, came down the Tanana River ands went down to Ruby and back in his flat bottom boat.
We hit the beach and promptly found out it was Sunday and everything was closed and would not open until 10 tomorrow morning. We were compelled to take a break. The wind was blowing and a storm was coming. We went down close to the airport where the Village has a little campground. It was perfect. Behind trees out of the wind, it is a 15 minute walk to town right on the bank so easy to get unloaded and get set up.
Once set up I made something to eat. Then Stormy and I walked into town to use the payphone to at least get that accomplished. The phone didn’t work. The liquor store was open because the barge had arrived and was receiving inventory. Jeff who runs the store insisted I use his cell phone.
I called Debbie, all 3 girls and Cam, with Cam the only one answering. We went back to camp. Laid down and I read awhile. Then it started raining and we fell asleep.
July 24, Monday – Day 32 on Water
– There was no hurry this morning but we were still up by 6. I tidied things up, made some oatmeal and we went for a walk. I think the Library opens at 9 will head there. It looks and feels like the storm is going to pass. We will accomplish things, organize, relax and head down river in the morning.
The library at the school didn’t open until 5. We went to the store and waited for it to open at 10. I got enough change to wash 2 loads, she said it would take $30. I wondered if I was buying the place or washing just 2 loads. The dirty clothes and my blanket I use and Stormy’s bed. It actually took $35.
To keep this simple we washed and dried, the place had great showers, another $2, bought supplies, enough water and we were done by 2. By 3 everything was packed up and ready for the kayak. I rested for an hour, went back to the store and ate something out of the microwave, then went to the library.
We were back at the tent by 6, I read and was asleep by 9. July 25, Tuesday- Day 33 on Water
– Nothing wrong with a routine if it is a good one. Down the river at 6:30. Overcast but no wind. What a break considering the amount of wind in the last 2 days. A good day. At 2 we stopped, got set up, went for a walk, snacked, built a fire, updated the journal and had mashed potatoes and gravy.
There is a hatch of small flies going on. They get in everything, they don’t bite but a huge nuisance. I am wearing a mosquito’s net for the 2nd time.
Less than 700 miles to go.
July 26, Wednesday - Day 34 on Water
– We got a good night’s sleep despite these little pesky flies. Up at 5, packed and on the river at 5:45.
1st thing in the morning I saw a very large Grizzly bear walking up river on the N. side, which is the side of the river/channel that I have been paddling along. He was ahead of me so there is no way he could see me coming. He started to run and he just kept running and running until I almost couldn’t see him. Then he turned into the river and started to swim across the channel. His head was so big it was easy to watch him swim across the river. But once he got to the Island bank, he started to swim upriver along the Island. I for the life of me couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He kept coming towards me and I started to paddle over to the bank he had swum from. Before long I decided to get the bear spray out and the air horn because he kept coming my way. There was no way I was going to be able to out paddle him he was such a strong swimmer. If he decided to chase me down river, he was going to catch me.
What the hell was this bear doing I thought. As he came long across from me directly, he turned and ambled up the bank, shook the water off and walked into the tree line. I don’t think he ever saw me. I also think he was running and swimming as long as he could to get away from the small flies that were especially bad this particular morning.
It was overcast then started a slight drizzle. I stopped and put Stormy’s cover on and my skirt. Stayed pretty much the same all day. The 3rd barge I have seen came up river about 1.
I saw a black bear on our side of the river walking up river. I could get a picture and some video finally. Stormy was sleeping and I did not disturb her.
Soon thereafter we stopped for a break. The mosquitos were the worst so far. A cloud of them followed us for some time.
At 4 after 10 hours of paddling I was tired. My thumbs are bothering me considerably. I decided starting today we would hug the right/North bank. As I was about to pull in and set up another Black Bear came out of the brush. Not enough time to get a picture he was a little behind us. Stormy saw him and at 1st wasn’t real sure what she was seeing. Then he grunted and turned to go back in the brush. I thought Stormy was going to jump out of the boat. It didn’t take her long to settle down.
Down a ways I picked a small gravel bar surrounded by water.
As I was setting up we saw the bear come back out and head up river. A good little shower came thru, once again I was ready.
This is a very organized and well laid out Bible Camp. The only thing like it on the entire Yukon that I saw.
July 27, Thursday – Day 35 on Water
– Our next way station to stop at is Galena, I would expect to be there on Fri afternoon or Saturday morning, once again trying to hit in so I don’t have to spend any more time in town than necessary. After my lesson in Tanana, with everything being closed on Sundays and getting there late Saturday afternoon, I don’t want that to happen again, although that down time was spent productively and with the way the weather was, it worked out well.
The little flies seem to be dissipating. I don’t remember if I mentioned I had bought Stormy some insect repellant when I got her Health Certificate from the Vet in Bellingham and finally remember and got it on her. It has made a huge difference. The bank keeps going by.
I am beginning to realize that my doubts about this Feathercraft, the tandem K-2 being the right kayak for this part of the trip remaining is the right choice. It is heavy when it is loaded. It doesn’t do well against the wind let alone a good stiff breeze. I am working twice, sometimes three times has hard as I have to. That is one of the main reasons my thumbs are bother me. I need a hard shell, sleek, light weight, no dog, no dog food, limited supplies and camping gear and paddle right on thru the remaining miles that are left.
Once we get past Galena a couple of hundred miles, it opens up, no hills, no mountains and no trees. Therefore, no wind breaks. Going to be tough going. It already has been.
Since I made the decision to stay on the right bank, N side of the river channel I am on, I have to paddle across at the end of the day to get on the island. It is tough, because normally after 2 a good stiff breeze of wind is blowing up river and it can be a job at the end of the day. Very stressful and trying. But once we are there we are there. Once again, I don’t want to camp on the main shore line because of the amount of bears and bear tracks I have seen all the time. Every time I see a cow moose and her calf tracks, there are bear tracks and wolf tracks. Always.Now, once again, the thought process that the bears aren’t on the islands is bullshit. I have seen just as many bears, bear tracks on the islands as I have on the main shore.
The water is also dropping daily. So that means sometimes a good walk to get up off of the sand bar, back against the bushes or the trees. If you set up on a sand bar and the wind comes up, you can have your tent full of sand in about 30 seconds. So I always make the trek, no matter how far it is. It takes 5 trips up to set up and 5 trips back in the morning to pack the Kayak. I look at it as loosing up at the end of the day and in the morning as my exercise and getting the stiffness out of my muscles and joints. Stormy likes it because she gets to run. She is always glad to get out of the kayak at the end of the day, but she sure is good when she is in it. She has not once time made a fuss, no matter how long we are in the kayak. July 28, Friday – Day 36 on Water
– We still are having very good weather. It is only a matter of time and the weather has to change.
We are getting more wind and with that comes more work. I am constantly looking at the weight between Stormy and myself, all the gear, etc and at times I wonder if this Feathercraft is the right kayak to be doing this sort of trip. It works great when there is current. Even when there is current with a brisk breeze or a good wind coming up river, it does fine. I have worked hard at eliminating gear. I have mailed a box back to Cam’s, given the cot and a good deal of stuff away.
But once you lose the current, with a brisk breeze and a good stiff wind coming up river, you are working very hard to do 1 to 2 miles per hour. 8 hours and you haven’t gone very far and you are extremely tired. You get fooled and complacent when there is a good current, favorable weather and no wind. 50 miles a day is easy. Then I am not even dwelling on the amount of energy at the end of the day it takes to cross the channel to get to the Island to camp. Lake Baikal in Russian will be this way. 10 hr day, 20 miles for lake paddling. 1,200 miles is 60 days. No other way to plan it.
I hope to get to Galena today, late this afternoon. The only thing that will prevent that is I have to stop because of the wind. By getting there on a Friday afternoon, it means I can resupply, internet up and get back on the water before the day is over.
We arrived in Galena about 5:00 after the wind coming up to our backs. I sailed very hard and fast for about 20 miles. Then I had to traverse across the river to be able to hit Galena without paddling on the side of the river the wind was hitting. I would have never gone anywhere and had to stop and wait the wind out.
Once I got across, the wind carried us right to the village. It was windy and raining. Once again I had to set up in the wind and rain. We set the tent up on the front lawn of the Alaska Fish and Game whose office was right on the bank of the river where I had hit the bank.
Once the tent was set up, I left Stormy in the tent and walked up to the grocery store. It was about closing time for them, so I got something hot to eat out of the Microwave and said I would be back at 10 in the morning to stock up.
#7 JOURNAL - JULY 29th TO AUGUST 5th
July 29, Saturday – Day 37 on Water
– It quit raining about 1:00 in the morning. Fortunately, Stormy can pretty much go all night long without having to go outside. I can’t. So when I get up to go pee, she always takes an advantage of that and goes out real quick. She loves to sleep, so she is in and out and back in the bed. She appears to be sleeping but she is always hearing everything or smelling it. It is uncanny what she hears I don’t.
Since the grocery store doesn’t open until 10:00 and I get up early, we were up and broke down the camp and carried everything down to the kayak to have it ready to load later on in the day when it was time to launch.
Then we walked all the way around the end of the runway, to go to the RAVN office which is the airline that flies in and out of all of the Native Villages. Once there it didn’t open until 9 so we waited. Once it opened the lady in the office was very rude and uncooperative. I learned absolutely nothing and was very stressed, because I was already thinking that my thumbs were going to be the grief that caused me to end the trip prematurely. So therefore, I needed to find out what my options were in flying out early and where from down river.
After walking a ways, a guy stopped and gave us a ride back to the grocery store. Once it was open, I bought what I needed and got a ride back to the kayak. I packed everything up, packed the kayak up and then decided to go to another part of the village, the other grocery store and a small café I had heard about and have some lunch. I was also told that the school had a library that would open at 2.
I don’t know why, but I had my waders on. I should have put my shoes on. I picked the wrong road to walk the 2 miles down to the other end of the village. I rubbed my legs raw from the sweating and walking, I just couldn’t get a ride, there was very little traffic. I finally got a ride the last couple hundred yards.
I went to the café and the lady working in there said I could use her phone. She got the numbers for RAVN and Alaska Airlines both. I order a BLT and made the calls. Since I had not made my mind up if I was going to end the trip early, the flights were for out of Emmonak, my original destination.
Since my money didn’t go into the bank until the 1st, I called Angie and asked her to make the reservations for me; giving her my card # and the flight information and made sure she understood that she needed to make them on Tuesday. She agreed to do so.
Then I went and got a few things from the 2nd grocery store, got a ride back to the kayak and finished packing up and we hit the river.
Down a ways I ran into a couple from Ontario. They had put on the river at the end of May. I started the 24th of June. So they were really taking their time. They were in a canoe and they seemed to have the right gear and were enjoying their trip.
I had paddled over close to the bank where they were sitting up camp on an Island and once I started to leave I got stuck on a sand bar. I got out and pushed off and as I was getting back in the kayak I fell in and got soaked, filling up my waders. That was the only time that had happened. I had my left leg in and my right foot got stuck in the mud and the kayak moved on me as I was trying to get in. Embarrassing to say the least, but none worse for the event.The weather turned and it started to rain again. No fun setting up the tent in the rain. But once it is set up and things are inside and the kayak is secure, things are fine.
We had paddled 30 miles since 3:30 when we left Galena. We found a great place to camp this time, right along the water on a small gravel beach.
July 30, Sunday – Day 38 on Water –
There was a break in the rain in the morning when we got up. Once I got the kayak packed I had some hot oatmeal right there on the bank, then put the stove away. I quit making tea, the damn insulated cup I was using leaked and it always got in the way. No good place to put it.
As the morning progressed it cleared up and actually turned out to be a nice day. We paddled about 33 miles this day.
I can’t remember what day it was, because I got behind on the Journal. But it was a very beautiful morning, no wind, no clouds and I decided to once again fly the drone off of the kayak. There wasn’t that much current. The drone got behind me and I couldn’t see it in the sun and the breeze was blowing up river so I couldn’t hear it. It got too far away as I was drifting down river, so I hit the Home button.
It then notified me that the battery was depleted sufficiently to automatically send it into Home mode and that is where it went, where I had sent if off up river. I had made a mistake in not understanding how to use the drone more than I should have. The last thing I remember is that Chinese lady telling me the drone was “landing” right in the middle of the Yukon River. That was the end of that.
(When I got back I called DJI and they told me that there are several programs in the software that allow the drone to come back to wherever the Controller is, I just never took the time to learn how to program them and use them. Big mistake. I don’t only lost the drone but all of the video and pictures that were on the chip in the Camera.)July 31, Monday – Day 39 on Water
– We haven’t seen many bears in the last couple of days. It is kind of a hit and miss thing. They are out there to be sure. Every time we stop on the bank to take a break there are bear tracks and there are wolf tracks. There are also always moose tracks, both the cow and the calf along with the bulls. No mistaking the bulls, their tracks are huge.
We also haven’t seen anybody else on the river. The last persons seen were the couple from Ontario. I think the 3 guys from Norway have gotten in front of me and are going to get done as soon as possible because they said something about wanting to go to Mt. Denali Park.
The kids, the 9 of them are also not too far in front of me. I expect at some point in time to run into them. I have a feeling the weather is going to change. We have had way too many good days. We are bound to get some wind and rain. It is inevitable.
August 1, Tuesday – Day 40 on Water – I am stressed with the thumbs and joints. Not whining, but it is uncomfortable. It is at night that they bother me the most. They go numb for quite some time and it takes a good 30 minutes to get any feeling back in them. There are times I am trying to do something and I can’t because it feels like an ice pick is being jabbed into the joint.
It is tough to paddle against the wind with no current as it is; even more effort needs to be exerted when my thumbs aren’t working, because that is where the pressure is from the paddle.
A storm is coming up and the wind blowing strong. I was making no headway so I stopped across the river from another Native Village. I tied up and got a tarp, my sleeping bag and my sleeping pad and went up under a bluff, under some trees and took a nap for a couple of hours. The wind did not quit blowing and there was no question it was going to rain.
I decided to cross the river and get to the other side, so I could be on the side of the channel that looked like there was some current and some protection from the wind. I had Stormy’s bubble on and got my rain skirt on and we were water tight. This Feathercraft is made for this kind of weather. It can take a lot of wave action. So we headed straight across, with the wind coming at my left shoulder. So I wasn’t really having to fight the wind, but the waves were a different story. They were a good 2 to 3 feet high. Several village residents on the bank watched me paddle across. Took a good hour and it was only a couple of miles.
I then turned down river and managed to make pretty good time. Then it started to rain and from the looks of it, it wasn’t going to stop, which ended up being the case. Once again, I don’t mind the rain and for sure Stormy doesn’t. Making that clear bubble for her has helped make this trip. If she is stressed I am stressed.
It wasn’t long and I paddled back across the river to get to the inside of a Island to camp for the night and it ended up being a very long walk to get to a point I was out of the wind to get camp set up.
Once again, we set up camp with it raining. Stromy is immediately in the tent and does not leave unless she has to. Once I have the bed set up, she is on it and that is where she stays. She hates to be wet.
One thing I have managed to do is keep the sleeping bag and the blanket I use dry. I have yet to have a wet sleeping bag, blanket or sleeping pad.
August 2, Wednesday – Day 41 on Water
– I haven’t been able to take any pictures because it has been raining all the time. I suppose I could take some with my phone, because it is too much trouble when it is raining to get the notebook out and have to use the mouse to take pictures. But nothing really in the way of picture taking anyway with the clouds low on the water and it is raining.
We managed to once again get on the water fairly early, by 7:00AM in spite of it raining. It doesn’t take long to get the kayak packed and we are off. The wind is still blowing up river, which makes it tough to say the least. It also means once we have paddled along the island, we need to get across the river once again to get to the bank, the N side where I have been keeping to get out of the wind and hopefully find some current.
Because I am working so hard to get the miles in, my thumbs and joints are bothering more and more and it is stressful. It is hard to enjoy any part of this under these conditions.
August 3, Thursday – Day 42 on Water – I have decided no matter what I am going to get to Grayling, the next Native Village down river today. It looks like it is about 50 miles, which is a very long ways to go under these conditions. If I can fly out of there, that is where I will end this trip. I see no reason to suffer and not enjoy the last 250 plus or minus miles, it just doesn’t make any sense. I am sure under the circumstances that both RAVN and Alaska Air will change my tickets, assuming Angie got the reservations made.
We haven’t seen any bears lately at all. But I did see 2 different wolves today. One older male and one younger male. It is the 1st time I have seen wolves in the wild. They looked identical and look like they were from the same pack, the same litter. The older wolf was headed up river and saw us as we approached and immediately went off up into the bank trees. The younger one, once he saw us, also headed up river, just sat down and watched us go by. I also saw a Sliver Tipped Fox on the bank, he was far enough away he never did see us.
Stormy wasn’t quite sure what to make of the wolves. She was in her bubble so to bark at them or move around was out of the question, so she just sat there and watched them as I paddled by.
As I came around a corner there were the 9 “kids” camped right along the bank. Looked like they had been there a couple of days. (As it turned out when I saw them the next day, Friday, they had indeed been camped there for 2 days waiting out the wind and the rain.) It is not as easy to paddle in the wind and rain in a canoe as it is in a kayak, especially one like mine where you can basically get water tight. It was about 9:30AM and they were all in their tents, so I did not make any noise or disturb them.
It was a very long day to say the least. We paddled 52 miles in 14 hours and I was very tired and my hands were practically numb. We put on the water at 6AM and it was 8 in the evening. We had stopped 3 different times to get out of the kayak and walk a bit. I did not want to get up tomorrow morning and not know what the decisions was I was going to make in ending the trip or going on.
As I was approaching Grayling a couple on a 4 wheeler was going up river and I paddled over and got them to stop and talk to me. Yes RAVN flew out of Grayling every day. There was a covered area to camp right off of the river. This lady happens to be the cook for the Elder’s Center and she invited me to Senior Lunch the next day, she was cooking Moose Chili and traditional pan bread.
Once again it was still raining, so it was good to set up the tent under the cover. I got everything out of the kayak, under the cover and laid it all out so it could start drying out. I made something to eat, don’t even remember what it was and we went to bed, it was already past 10:00.
August 4, Friday – Day 43 – As I lay in bed last night, it became clear that the best thing for me to do was end the trip here in Grayling, AK. It is a small Native Village and RAVN flies from here to Aniak and then on to Anchorage. So once the Elders Lodge opens up at 9AM, which is a very brand new Community Center I can use the phone and make the changes in my reservations.
There was no hurry to get up, so we lingered. It has stopped raining and looks like perhaps the weather might change for the better, which was giving me 2nd thoughts about stopping the trip. However, it is not the weather that bothers me. I don’t like the wind for sure, but I can put up with it, even if it meant stopping and sitting it out. It is my thumbs and the pain and discomfort that I am experiencing that is taking the enjoyment out of the days.
We got up, started to pack things up and I went down to the bank and started to take the kayak apart. I knew if I got the kayak broke down, I wasn’t going to change my mind.
Once 9 came I went up to the Community Center and sat down and made the phone calls. After getting the reservations changed, there was no way I was going to make the flight out today, Friday. It would have to be tomorrow which gave me plenty of time to get the kayak broke down, packed up and ready to go.
A young guy came over from the closest house and he turned out to be one of the 4 school teachers at the school. It was his 3rd year and he had just returned for the start of school in a week or so. He offered to let me wash his clothes in his washer and dry them, which I appreciated. He also told me he would take me to the air strip just out of town in the morning about 9, which I also told him I appreciated. What a story he has teaching school there, not one of the easiest things to accomplish because of the drugs, alcohol and abuse that goes on in these Native Villages.
About 10 I looked up river and could see the 4 canoes and 1 kayak coming down river with the 9 kids.
Once they hit the bank and I told them I wasn’t going on it was a sad moment for all of us. We had spent quite a bit of time together and it wasn’t easy for me to stick with my decision. But I had the kayak broke down and had changed my reservations, so that was it.
I continued to work all day long in getting things bundled up. I had 2 different tarps so I cut them up and tied up the 5 different bundles with the rope I had, and even bought some more rope and a roll of duct tape. My bags for shipping stuff on the plane were in a box at the post office in Emmonak.
I had mailed them there when I got all set up in Whitehorse.
Once the kids bought some supplies, spent time having lunch at the Community Center, spent time on the Internet they were ready to take off. What a sad time for me. As they were on the water headed down stream what a picture it was. It meant so much to me; I didn’t take a picture of it because I didn’t
want to share it with anyone. I hate to admit it but I was crying. It was all I could do to keep from getting my stuff down to the river, get the kayak together, go get supplies and head out after them.
But it was not to be and as the weeks have gone by, the decision to end the trip was the right one.
The only stressful thing that went on was it was payday in the Village. So the drunks were wandering around town all night long, the path to wander was right by my tent so I didn’t get a lot of sleep.
August 5, Saturday – Day 44 – We got up very early. We had to be patient and so we went for a walk along the river. I saw a huge porcupine which Stormy didn’t see thank heavens. Once 9 came along, Mike the school teacher came over with his truck and took me to the airport.
The plane arrived about 10:00 loaded with supplies for the grocery store and mail. A few of us helped unload the plane and there were 4 of us flying out. Stormy and I got on the plane and that was the beginning of the trip home, back to Bend, then on down to Havasu Landing. Stormy did great flying for the 1st time. The trip wouldn’t have been the same without her, she has become a good traveling companion and as I tell her all the time, “Stormy, it is just you and me”.