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
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
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
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
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
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).
tour of a kennel that trains dogs for
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
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
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
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 ..................in 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
A BAD IMPRESSION IS BETTER THAN NO IMPRESSION AT ALL -
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Floating the Tal
w/ a Pal
Only in Alaska
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