Newsletter Volume 8

August 1996

In 1995, Jeff and Cyndie set aside their careers to pursue personal interests: travel, flyfishing and adventure. They lived in a 5th wheel trailer that had been converted into a fishing cabin on wheels. Their Ford F350 pickup and custom designed inflatable boat took them to places where dreams are made. Rowdy, their Golden Retriever, came along for the adventure.

This newsletter was produced 6 times a year to chronicle and share the adventures. It was distributed to family, friends, business associates and folks they met along the way.

Dreams Fulfilled The past two months have been a lifetime in the making. We've both been fishing since we were kids. We went to college and studied hard. Then, we got good jobs and worked for years to be able to do this. For three years, we planned how we could make the dream a reality. The first year of our break has been training for the adventures of the past two months.

In this issue, we've got high adventure to report on. We've been flown into the backcountry twice, visited an Eskimo Village on the Bering Sea, driven to the Arctic Circle and shared good times with good friends. Now we want to share them with you.

Goodnews for Adventure  If there has been one event we've been pointing towards since we started formulating our Alaska plans, it has been a fly-in, float-out, self-outfitted trip into the backcountry. On July 16, our dream became a reality. We set out on an adventure that ended a week later when we floated our raft into Goodnews Bay, home of a small Eskimo village on the Bering Sea.

The Goodnews River flows out of the Togiak Wilderness in southwestern Alaska and into the Bristol Bay Region of the Bering Sea, home of one of the worlds most prolific salmon fisheries. We selected the Goodnews, and this time of year, because there was a possibility of catching every species of salmon (king, red, pink, chum, silver) as well as rainbow trout, grayling and dolly varden. We chose to access the Goodnews by flying into Kukaktlim Lake and floating the Kukaktlik River to its confluence with the Middle Fork of the Goodnews. This 50 mile float is made by less than 20 people each year and offered us an opportunity to see pristine Alaskan Wilderness, and enjoy the fishing opportunity of a lifetime.

A lot of work went into getting prepared for this trip. Our adventure was to begin in Dillingham, a small fishing village that can only be accessed by air. Several days before we left Anchorage, our raft and camping gear had to be packed and shipped to Dillingham. We left the truck and trailer in Anchorage and took a commercial flight to Dillingham, In Dillingham, we met up with Philip and Lester Bingman of Freshwater Adventures, the bush pilots who would fly us into and out of the backcountry.

It was mid-day on a Tuesday when we arrived in Dillingham. Within a few hours we had unpacked our freight and had the float plane loaded with our gear. We were ready to embark on this adventure. The adrenaline was rushing when we got into the 1939 Grumman Goose that would fly us to Kukaktlim Lake. But, it was not meant to be that day.

We flew for an hour and approached the lake. A dense fog was in the valley. Lester could not see to land. We returned to the hanger and ended up spending the next 24 hours in Dillingham, waiting for the weather to clear.

Wednesday morning the weather broke and we loaded onto the plane for another attempt. By noon, the plane was swooping between two mountain peaks and into the valley that forms Kukaktlim Lake. It was a smooth landing. We taxied up to the shore, unloaded our gear and watched as the plane took off. We were alone, in the middle of nowhere. All we had now was a pile of gear that we hoped could be made into a boat, would feed us and would keep us warm and dry for a week while we made our way to the place where another plane would take us back to civilization. Right now we really hoped we remembered to bring everything.

Whatever we had thought this trip would be like, it exceeded expectations right from the start. As we rowed our raft out of the lake and into the mouth of the river thousands of salmon thrashed the water. For the first quarter mile of river below the lake, red salmon were stacked shoulder to shoulder in crystal clear water less than two feet deep. We hooked and landed these ten pound fish until we were so tired we just sat and watched them. We could have spent a week in this one place, but we still had 50 miles of river ahead of us.

Our fishing expectations were met and exceeded early in this trip. On our second morning, Jeff hooked into a beautiful king salmon in the 35-40 pound range. "I was fishing in crystal clear water that was less than knee deep. I was able to sight cast to the fish and watch my fly swing right in front of his nose and disappear into his mouth. Once the fish was hooked, it exploded into the air for two spectacular jumps and then took off downstream, peeling line off the reel and making the drag scream. The water in the river was swift and there was nothing I could do but take off running downstream after the fish."

Cyndie grabbed a net and started to follow but Jeff sent her back to get the boat. "I could tell that this fight was going to go way downstream and I didn't want us to get too far from the boat." Jeff was right. "It was over a quarter of a mile downstream before I gained any control over the fish. From this point, it still took another 10 minutes to bring the fish to the bank, where I grabbed it by the tail. The power of a 35 pound muscle thrashing against my arm was incredible. The beauty of the big, bright red fish was awesome. I have fished all of my life for this fish."

Meanwhile, we had become separated. Although we both knew exactly what to do in this situation, it was still a bit eerie to call out and not be able to hear each other. We were both relieved when she floated around the bend and we were rejoined. After all, she had the camera.

We took a whole roll of pictures of this fish and then let it go. Sure, the salmon die anyway. So, why not keep it? This was a fine, big, male king salmon. It is my greatest hope that I have released him to finish his spawning ritual and that his genes will live on in the Kukaktlik, where I might catch his offspring some day in the future.

With a whole lot of red salmon and now a trophy king under our belt by early the second day, the rest was just gravy. And, boy, was the gravy good. Over the next five days we enjoyed incredible fishing, complimented by the absolutely pristine wilderness scenery. The magnitude of the overall experience was so overwhelming it almost made us not even notice that it rained on us for four days straight.

On day five the weather broke. We set up camp on a beautiful gravel bar and decided to stay put for two days and treat ourselves to a "day-off", on the river. We spent a leisurely day around camp, hooking red, pink and chum salmon as well as some bright silver dolly vardens, another species first for us. That evening, one fresh red salmon graced our camp stove for dinner. It was a day to be remembered for a lifetime.

The next morning we saw the first signs of other people during our six days on the river. We floated into a fishing outcamp operated by Bristol Bay Lodge, an exclusive and expensive flyfishing lodge. We were greeted by guides Todd and Hutch. Todd's wife Marilyn invited us up to their cook tent and we had a great visit over coffee and fresh berry brownies.

Later that day, we floated our raft through a fish counting weir operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service to help manage this incredible salmon fishery. Two workers removed a panel from the weir for our boat to float through, as they counted each salmon that ran through the gap.

Our last day on the river proved to be one of the most interesting. As the Goodnews River flows into the Bering Sea, tidal influences can make it very difficult for small craft to navigate. To avoid these difficulties, we had arranged for an Eskimo from Goodnews to meet us at the river mouth and tow us with a motorboat into the village. When the Eskimo and his granddaughter arrived, we got our first introduction to the interesting culture to which we were about to be exposed.

We were towed into Goodnews village, a small fishing village that is inhabited by about 300 native Eskimos. The village consists of several dozen meager wooden buildings, arranged in a rather hap-hazard manner. The people of the village were mainly subsistence hunters and fisherman, relying on everything from salmon to walrus to feed and clothe their families. As we disassembled our boat and packed our gear we watched as a native sharpened a handmade harpoon. He then set out in a small jon boat onto the Bering Sea, to fish and hunt for his family. A small grass landing strip is all that couples Goodnews to the outside world.

The people we met during our short stay in Goodnews provide us with some of our best memories. Anna Beaver, a native craftperson, spotted us on the beach and brought down a group of traditional craft items that were just stunning. We have since seen Anna's grass baskets, which are decorated with dyed seal gut, on display in some of the finest craft stores in Alaska. Many stores have them priced at ten times what Anna offered to sell them to us for.

Next, we met Dan Schouten, who is virtually the only non-native in the village (he is married to a native women). Dan took us to his home and showed us a collection of museum quality native artifacts and crafts which he has collected over the years he has lived in the village. The pieces we saw are simply beyond description. You'll just have to see the photos.

Overwhelmed by the cultural experience and exhausted by a week in the wilderness, our trip was near an end. The sound of the plane coming into the Goodnews airstrip brought home the reality that this adventure was about to be converted from dream to memories. It is still hard to comprehend and relate everything that happened to us during this week. It was more than we ever imagined it could be.

Better Paranoid than Bear Annoyed  One element that has been consistent throughout our Alaska backcountry experiences has been bears. We've found ourselves spending the whole trip doing our darndest to avoid the bears and then being bummed out at the end of the trip because we didn't get any good bear pictures. You just can't have it both ways.

We've now spent many weeks in our tent in the Alaska backcountry. Every time we set camp the issue of bears are a consideration, if not an obsession. We've decided to call it "Bearaoia".

We read lots of books and talked to lots of people about this subject. It seems that everybody has ideas on the subject but there is no consistent standard for how to avoid bad bear encounters in the backcountry. People just develop habits and routines that work for them and make them feel safe. Here's a few things we've been doing to allow us to get a good nights sleep.

  • Keep a meticulously clean camp. Clean dishes and store garbage immediately after every meal and pack all dishes away.
  • Eat smelly meals, like cooked meats, for breakfast, not dinner. We eat dehydrated meals for dinner before retiring to our sleep tent for the night.
  • We maintain a separate mesh cook tent that we put downwind and away from our sleep tent. We keep our cooler in this tent, securing it with safety straps and a warning bell.
  • Absolutely no food in our sleep tent.
  • Seal each day's garbage in a ziplock and store them in a plastic trash compactor bag. Tie the bag tight and put it in the river with a rock on it, well away from the campsite.
  • Don't camp where we see fresh bear tracks, bear scat or bears.
  • Avoid getting fish slime on the boat. Bears have been known to bite boats.
  • Make noise. We attached bear bells to our backpacks and fishing vests to make sure we don't surprise a bear in the woods.

There's lots of other things we do, but these are just a few. To date, we've never had a bear anywhere near our camp (that we were aware of).

We Ran  to a tour of a kennel that trains dogs for The Iditarod
OK, so we stole the idea for the title from a T-Shirt we saw up here. We have been intrigued by the 1,000 plus mile Iditarod sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. Cyndie's been itching to go visit one of the kennels where the dogs are trained.

Denali National Park maintains a sled dog kennel that trains dogs that are used for winter backcountry patrols in the park. Gary Voy, an Iditarod competitor, manages the kennel. We were cruising by Denali on our way up to the Arctic Circle so we decided to stop and take the tour.

On a previous visit to the park, we met, Ranger Carrie Cahill, who was a rookie dog musher last winter. In an intimate setting around a campfire ring Carrie told us about the gear she wears in the sub-zero conditions, how they train the dogs and what it is like to hang onto a wooden sled as it skates across the snow in the darkness behind a team of powerful dogs.

At the kennel we saw the boarding and training facilities and talked with the staff who care for the dogs. We also got to see and photograph the dogs. The highlight of the visit was watching a team of dogs pull a sled and musher around a gravel track. It is amazing how fast and powerful these dogs are. It must be quite a thrill to be pulled across the snow, hanging onto your sled for dear life, on a cold arctic morning, in the dark. On second thought, better them than us. We'll just stick to fishing and probably in a bit warmer climate.

An Attempt on the Arctic Ocean  It's over 5,000 miles from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. So, it's hard to believe that when you're in Anchorage, your really on the south end of the state. From Anchorage, it's almost 1,000 miles to the north end of the state, where the land falls off into the Arctic Ocean.

Back in the 1970's, they built a road to the Arctic Ocean to support the Alaska Pipeline project. Trucks use this two lane gravel road to supply the construction and maintenance of the pipeline. Until last year, the road was closed to the public. When we found out that you could drive to the Arctic Ocean and that there was a potential for some exciting fishing along the way, it was an adventure we just could resist. However, we soon realized what it meant to drive a 550 mile dirt road the rain.

We pulled the trailer 350 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks. We then loaded our tent and sleeping bags, along with Rowdy, into the truck, leaving the trailer behind. A hundred miles north of Fairbanks we joined up with "The Haul Road", dubbed so by the truck drivers who make it their life to drive this road to the top of the world. Another sixty miles and we crossed the famed Yukon River on the only bridge that breaches this huge drainage.

It was here that it began to rain. It has been raining for the past four days, getting the road ready for us. Ahead of us lie sections of road that were so treacherous that they had names like the Beaver Slide and the Rollercoaster. The Rollercoaster is a half mile of 12% grade downhill followed by another half mile of 12% grade uphill. Just add water and a couple of big trucks and its' more exciting than anything in Disneyland.

At mile 215, we reached the Arctic Circle where we stopped for the obligatory souvenir photograph and then forged ahead. The rain got harder and the clouds dropped lower as we made our way towards Coldfoot.

Coldfoot was so named because of its' reputation for being the place where many travelers give up and turn back. It was a thought that crossed our mind. Instead we forged ahead a few more miles up the road and set camp where we hoped to find some exciting fishing waters.

We spent a cold and rainy night above the Arctic Circle and awoke the next morning to more of the same. Still, we headed north to the Koyukuk River where we planned to spend the day fishing arctic waters. Our prey would be grayling, arctic char and maybe even have a chance at a rare sheefish, also known as tarpon of the tundra. However, our fishing plans were soon dashed when we discovered the Koyukuk to be a muddy, raging torrent, blown out from days of rain.

As we passed the Koyukuk and pushed northward, we came to the Brooks Mountain Range, a series of sharp, jagged, rocky peaks. We were now just south of Alaska's famous North Slope, which leads to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Ocean. From time to time, the clouds would lift enough for us to get a glimpse of these magnificent mountains. This view alone had been worth the journey.

As we climbed over this mountain range, we came to the last spruce tree. Beyond this point there are no more trees, only the low ground cover that form the arctic tundra. We were now just 150 miles from the Arctic Ocean. We had crossed the Brooks Range and were on the Northern Slope. But the rain continued to fall and we continued to slide around on the steep, muddy roads. After coming upon a small car, freshly overturned in the ditch, and watching a second spin out of control in the mud, we were beginning to weigh the merits of pushing on. There was going to be no real fishing opportunities ahead and it was going to be 300 miles round trip in the mud, just to get back to where we were, which was 250 miles from our trailer back in Fairbanks. It was time to turn back.

It was a long 250 mile drive back to Fairbanks. The rain followed us all of the way back to the Yukon and the roads were even worse than when we first passed on them. It was late in the evening when we finally reached Fairbanks. The truck was covered from top to bottom in the thickest, gooiest, mud we had ever seen.

So went our attempt on the Arctic Ocean. We didn't make it to our planned destination and not a single fish was seen or landed. In fact, with the weather conditions, we didn't even see any wildlife. But, it was an adventure, none-the-less. And, as with all adventures, just having given it a try was the best part. Maybe someday, we'll try again.

Talchulitna Trio  Our good friend Bill Choate came and adventured with us last summer in Colorado. After getting him to run the Gunnison River with us only days after it had dropped from record high water levels we felt Bill was ready (and gullible enough) to be taken on a real Alaska backcountry adventure. So, we invited Bill to visit us this summer and darned if he didn't show up.

With two backcountry float trips and one fly-in experience already under our belts, we knew this was the kind of adventure we wanted to share with Bill. We did a little homework and decided that the Talchulitna River (known as the "Tal" to locals) in the Alaskan Interior would be a good river to float.

Bill arrived in Anchorage on a Saturday afternoon. We picked him up at the airport and headed over to REI to pick up a few last minute gear items for the trip. We spent the remainder of the day packing dry bags with the gear we would need for four days on the river.

We were up early on Sunday morning at out to the float plane airport at Lake Hood. We had chosen Alaska Air Taxi to fly us out to the mid-point on the Talchulitna River. Our gear was loaded on the plane and we were in the air by 8AM. In less than an hour, the plane was over the river and our pilot, Jack Barber, pointed out a few places on the river that we needed to watch out for. Then, while we all looked at each other with a "He's not really going to land there, is he?" look in our eyes, Jack banked the plane sharply, dropped down into a break in the trees and put the plane down on a wide spot in this little river. It was about then that Bill first realized that he was in for an adventure.

It took us a couple of hours to assemble the boat and load our gear. Soon we were on the river. We had only floated a few minutes when Bill hooked up a salmon on his very first cast. It got off. But, on his second cast, he landed a nice five pound chum salmon. On his third cast, Bill hooked up again but the fish broke off his spinner. We said "No problem Bill, let's just tie on another one of those". This is the point where we learned that Bill had come on a four day float trip with only one spinner. More on this later.

As we floated down the Tal we could see fish everywhere in the clear shallow stream. Red, king, chum and pink salmon were prevalent. But the stream was very low due to a dry summer in Alaska this year and a good part of our day was spent floating through pools and then dragging the boat over the shallows. That is, until we got to "Hell's Gate", where we met our first river challenge.

At Hell's Gate, the stream banks rise to form canyon walls and the stream gradient increases to create rapidly moving water. The stream bed is littered with large boulders. The slots between the boulders are narrower than our boat so we could not float through the canyon. After studying the situation, we devised a plan. Bill and Jeff lifted the boat above the rocks while Cyndie drug it over them with a rope. Soon we had the boat on the other side of the rapid and were on our way again.

Our first night on the Tal was spent camping at the mouth of Friday Creek. It rained a bit that night but, other than that, Bill had brought with him his good luck weather and we generally enjoyed clear, sunny skies for the whole trip. We awoke to clearing weather and spent a little time fishing in the clear waters of the creek before we pushed off to float down the river.

Our second day on the river was hard. The water was very shallow and much of the time Bill and I had to drag the boat while Cyndie handled the oars. At mid-day we arrived at a second canyon area and a large rapid known locally as "Flipper", due to its' reputation for flipping rafts. Bill and Cyndie left the raft and ran safety ropes for this one while Jeff rowed the raft through the rapid. Another obstacle overcome and down river we headed. We covered a lot of river on this day so we didn't fish much. Besides, Bill didn't have any more spinners.

At the end of our second day, we picked a beautiful campsite in a small canyon just below Thursday Creek. We were all dog tired from a long day on the river. As we sat around the camp stove enjoying an evening cocktail, two guys who were having a rougher day than we were floated up. They had also been dragging their raft all day. But, they had not done as well as we did with "Flipper". They had capsized their raft. We managed to contain our laughter until after they left but the site of them lifting their tent from the bottom of the raft and pouring buckets of water out of it had us all in stitches. However, they did have some extra spinners and Bill was able to talk them into giving him a few, so he was back in the fishing business.

The next morning we got up and broke camp. This day was to be the most eventful day of the float. We all caught fish in the morning around the campsite. Bill, with his new supply of spinners, caught fish all day as we floated. Pinks, chums and even a beautiful eight pound silver salmon (that Jeff lost at the net) made for a fabulous day of fishing for Bill.

But, it was the bears, not the fishing, that would highlight our day. We saw a total of eleven bears on the trip, nine of them on this day alone. One was a grizzly but most were black bears including two yearling cubs and a mother and three baby cubs.

The best sighting of the trip occurred as we looked for site to camp our third night. We had just pulled off the river to look at a campsite when we saw a black bear downstream. It was moving up our way. We decided to move on and find a site on the other side of the river, on the theory that a bear would not swim across stream. Just as we were all convincing ourselves of the validity of this theory, a black bear walked down the gravel bar, into the water and proceeded to swim across the river right in front of our raft. Yes, Jeff proved that you can row the raft upstream, given the proper incentive.

After seeing nine bears in just over 5 hours and disproving at least one of our theories on bear behavior, we chose a gravel island for a campsite. It was an island with lots of visibility on all sides and with nothing on it that should be of any interest to a bear.

We spent our last night on the Tal without any visits from bears, but we're sure they were watching us. We awoke to another beautiful day and were all sorry we had scheduled our pickup for this day. Good times just never last long enough. We had only a few river miles to cover this day but some of the best fishing was ahead of us.

At the confluence of the Tal and the Skwentna River, we landed our first silver salmon of the trip, a beautiful 12 pound fish that Jeff landed on his flyrod. We Oohed and Aahed at the fish and described it with lots of wonderful adjectives. But, eventually we just ended up calling this fish "Dinner". We had promised Bill fresh salmon for him to prepare on the grill and this nice, fresh silver was the choice meat we had wanted. So, we filleted it on the bank and packed it into the cooler to be flown home.

As soon as we joined the Skwentna, the water color turned muddy and the water got big. It was only about 2 river miles to our takeout but our adventure was further enhanced by uncertainty. First, we all consulted the topographic maps and held a group vote on where the plane was really supposed to meet us. We finally settled that question and floated down to where the plane was to meet us, on 8/7 at 7:00. But, when the plane didn't show up at 7:00, Bill remarked "Wasn't he supposed to be here on the 7th at 8? Or, was it the 8th at 7:00?" That lead to thirty minutes of tension as we sat on a gravel bar, in the middle of nowhere, questioning rather there really was a plane coming or not.

When we heard the sound of the plane coming down the canyon and landing on the river, we were all waving him in with gusto. It was time to head back to civilization and save this trip away in the banks of our memories. And what memories the three of us will now share. Bill said "I had a large time. Way cool."

Only in Alaska  When we get TV reception up here, one of the few things we are interested in (besides the Olympics) is the weather. We've noticed that there are a few things that you hear in an Alaskan weather report that you just wouldn't hear anywhere else. Like:

  • The high temperature today will be 48 above.
  • Tonight it will be sunny with a low of 45.
  • In Barrow, the weather reports that the sun will rise on May 3 and will set on August 29.
  • The weather this week will be mostly cloudy with light rain and occasional sun breaks.

At this time of the year they report that the day gets about 6 minutes shorter each day. Up here, winter lasts 9 months. Summer is about 10 weeks long. That leaves about a week for spring and a week for fall. You gotta get out when the gettin' is good at the end of the season.



Fishing Recap It's been a big month on the fishing scene for us. We fished a lot of new waters and caught a lot of species first and species best. Due to our remote fishing locations, we have caught fish that were probably hooked for the first time in their lives and may never be hooked again. More fish have been caught than can be detailed. Here are some highlights.

Jeff's King Salmon (35-40 pounds), caught on the Kukaktlik River (see story on page 1) was a "trip fish" for this summer.

We both landed beautifully colored red salmon at the same time at the mouth of the Kukaktlik River. Doubles!

In addition to kings and reds, our float on the Kukaktlik and Goodnews Rivers yielded catches of Chum and Pink Salmon. The chum in the Goodnews were particularly large and nicely colored. And, what a fight!

While in the Middle Fork of the Goodnews River, we caught and released some beautiful Dolly Varden, some up to 20" in length. These fish are bright silver with beautiful pink spots and just shimmer in the sunlight. We've got some great dolly photos.

Our most memorable Rainbow Trout of the summer won't be the biggest one we caught, which was about 24" long. Rather, it is a 22" rainbow that Cyndie caught and released on the Kukaktlik River. This fish had been tagged by Alaska Fish and Game three years earlier. A call to their office in King Salmon, Alaska, provided us with a history on this fish, which proved to be 9 years old.

We also got into some really big Arctic Grayling, with some up to 20" long, on our Goodnews River float. The colors and fins on these fish make them great subjects for photos.

The Talchulitna float yielded catches of king, red, pink, chum and silver salmon. An Alaska Grand Slam.

Cyndie's Wildlife Sighting Report  We've spent much of this past month communing with the wildlife on their turf. We saw lots of wildlife and know that much more saw us and was gone before we could even detect it.

We only saw one grizzly bear on our float of the Kukaktlik and Goodnews Rivers. But, we saw bear prints at many places where we considered camping.

On our float of the Talchulitna, we saw a total of eleven bears. One was a grizzly bear and the rest were black bears.

On the Goodnews River, we were dive bombed by arctic terns when we tried to camp on a gravel bar on which they were nesting. These incredible birds migrate from Alaska to the Antarctic region each year.

Merganser and Harlequin Ducks were seen frequently as we floated the Goodnews River.

We found and took as a souvenir, a moose antler when we floated the Talchulitna.

Jeff saw a moose bolt away from the river and into the bushes as he was chasing his king salmon downstream on the Kukaktlik.

Bald and Golden Eagles have been a constant companion on our float trips.

An arctic fox walked almost right up to our cook tent before he noticed we were inside at our camp on the Kukaktlik River.

I called it a "river weasel" on the bank of the Goodnews River but it really was a mink.

We were told to look for a particular spot on the Kukaktlik River by looking for the ravens on the hill. We thought at the time that this would not be a very reliable landmark. But, it turned out to be easy to find this spot.

The sight of salmon in the streams, sometimes so thick as to almost cover the stream bottom, continues to be an incredible wildlife experience, as well as a fishing temptation.

Almost as spectacular as the wildlife has been the berry picking the past few weeks. We've had many deserts of fresh raspberries and salmon berries on ice cream.

Campground Recap  When our last issue left off, we were back in Anchorage on a resupply mission, staying at Ship Creek Landing, our adopted "home park". Since then, here's where we've been.

Wild Goose Bed and Breakfast, Dillingham, AK. We were stuck at the airport in Dillingham due to bad weather. As it turns out, the Wild Goose B&B is really just a room in Bob Pollock's house. Since Bob is best described as an "Alaska Freeman", this was an interesting experience.

Gravel Bar on Kukaktlik River, 4 miles below Kukaktlim Lake This was the first viable campsite on the river and when we came upon it at 10:30 this night, it was like an oasis. Covered with beautiful wild flowers and located at the confluence of several small streams, it was the perfect place to start our adventure.

Gravel Bar on Kukaktlik River, 2 miles above confluence with Middle Fork of Goodnews River We stayed here because there were bear tracks at our first choice. This was a nice big bar that allowed us lots of visibility around our tents to watch for visitors.

Gravel Bar 7 miles below confluence with Middle Fork of Goodnews River We picked this site to stay two nights since the fishing was fantastic along this bar. Turns out this bar is a favorite spot for the guides from Bristol Bay Lodge's Goodnews outcamp, which is just about a mile downstream of this site.

Gravel Bar 2 miles upstream from confluence of Middle and Main Forks of the Goodnews
It had been a long day on the river when we decided on this site, which was located just upstream from where we would meet our Eskimo escort the next day.

Wild Goose B&B, Dillingham, AK Bob Pollock picks up his guests at the airport in a van with a big NRA sticker on the door and a copies of the Bill of Rights in the back seat. We'd survived one night at "Freeman Bob's" and after a week on the river, a hot shower sounded pretty good. So, we headed back over to the Goose.

Ship Creek Landing, Anchorage, AK Back to home base in Anchorage to regroup.

Skinny Dicks Halfway Inn, just south of Fairbanks, AK Yep, that's really the name of the place. It's halfway between Anchorage and the Arctic Circle. It ain't much but they don't charge anything to stay there. Of course, they sell you a bunch of Skinny Dick souvenirs to make up for that.

Rainbow Lake RV Park, Fairbanks, AK We camped here a couple of nights and then left our trailer here while we drove up to Haul Road. It is owned by the Fairbanks Athletic Club, so a free membership at the health club is thrown in. Nice park.

Marion Creek Campground, above the Arctic Circle. A spacious, empty campground with a carribou horn in our campsite.

Ship Creek Landing, Anchorage, AK. Enough about this place already. We just used it as a place to rig for the Talchulitna float trip.

Gravel Bar at confluence of Talchulitna and Friday Creek
- Camped here at the end of our first day of the Tal float because we were told the fishing would be good here. But, we didn't catch anything.

Gravel Bar just below confluence of Talchulitna and Thursday Creek
- This was a beautiful spot nestled into a small canyon area on the river. The next morning we caught a lot of fish in this spot.

Gravel Island about 2 miles upstream of confluence of Talchulitna and Skwentna Rivers - After passing about 3 sites due to bear activity, we selected this island under our "bears won't swim over here" theory.

Ship Creek Landing, Anchorage, AK Just one more night here to regroup and then we're off to the Kenai.

Kenai Princess RV Park, Cooper Landing, AK After showing Bill Choate a few nights in the backcountry, we decided to take him to this plush lodge and let him soak in the hot tub before he went home. We kind of like it here and think we'll stay a while. So, we'll pick up with you here in our next issue.

In Our Next Issue Two of our three months here in Alaska have now passed us, but there is still more adventure ahead. Here's what we have planned for the rest of the summer and the early fall.

Early in August we plan to spend some more time on the Kenai River, where we'll continue the hunt for 30" rainbow trout.

Toward the last of August we plan to journey on down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer. From there we plan to take the ferry to Kodiak Island to fish for silver salmon and look for big bears.

By early September it will be time to get out of Alaska. We'll drive down through British Columbia and plan to stop near Terrace, BC. to fish the Kispiox and Buckley Rivers.

By the end of September we'll be headed back into the Lower 48, with Washington and Oregon being on our schedule of places to visit.

And, in November, we're hoping to get in on a trip through the Grand Canyon.

Stay tuned for more details.

A Detour off the Information Superhighway To our E-Mail pen pals, we're sorry we've not been responding to your E-Mail. We've not been online now in about two months. We're not ignoring you. There's just not much in the way of an on-ramp onto the info superhighway out here in the bush.

We'll be back online this fall, same ID and will look forwarding to getting your messages then. In the meantime, write us or just call our voicemail and let us hear from you.

Contents :



Arctic Expedition

Floating the Tal
w/ a Pal

Only in Alaska

Fishing Report

Wildlife Sightings

Campground Recap










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