View topic - August 2014 Yukon River trip - part 1

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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2015, 8:16 am 

Joined: February 18th, 2005, 12:41 pm
Posts: 422
Location: Denver, CO
meant to post this a while ago, along with pictures. managed to embed the pics in a word doc - took a while to get them all sized and positioned in the right places, but it turned out pretty nice. but when I tried to post that doc with pics here, the pictures didn't load. got busy and never got back to it. so here is a different version without pictures. I guess I coudl e-mail a copy of the one with pictures if anyone was interested. Won't have time for a month or so - today's my last day of work - ever! be gone for a month starting tomorrow. cleaning up the office pc, I found this - so here it is. The other version was a bit "neater", but don't have time to fool with this much today, so it is what it is - you can skip the travel to and from parts and just start at day 1 - Aug 5

8/1/2014 – Friday - Left from work around noon today and drove up I-25 to just below MT Border. drove 581 miles today which included 10 to and from work – stopped near Sheridan WY. For the night, at an I-25 rest area - just ate sandwiches.
8/2/2014 – Saturday - drove up to Great Falls, MT via I-25 to I-90 to state 97 - get messed up driving around in Great Falls - lots of the signs were hidden in tree branches - hard to navigate there. Drove North on I-15, then stopped at Canada Customs to do the paperwork for the shotgun and to pay the $25 fee. Drove into Lethbridge AB for gas and to buy a map of Alberta, which I needed. Drove north and around Calgary to Edmonton and took the bypass route - stopped for the night at the River Cree Casino - got moved from my spot by their security to a different parking lot next to RVs. Saw some antelope today.
8/3/14 – Sunday - Drove to Dawson Creek, BC and on to the start of the Alaska Highway - which was full of Oil and Gas service trucks for the first 300 miles or so - saw hundreds until I got past Pink Mountain and past Buckinghorse River. A lot of the trucks were tandem trailers, and really slow on the uphills which created traffic backups and passing on double yellow lines - lots of roads to wells, but no good place to stop to sleep - one road even had a sign “Poison Gas” (H2S), so I kept going on to and past Ft Nelson. Stopped at a mountain pass rest area thinking to stay there, but talked with a couple who told me I should keep going to get past highway construction that was really a slow area with a pilot car, etc., so I did and drove another 50 miles or so to a turnoff before Toad River. Just a gravel road into a trailhead, but a good spot for me. Saw 2 Caribou today.
8/4/14 – Monday - This was the best part of the drive up - thru the Stone Mtn and Muncho Lake Provincial Parks area. Saw 3 different Caribou, 5 bears - one was a Grizzly, another a sow and cub; saw a Moose Cow and Calf, then another lone Cow, saw 2 elk, then 4, and two different herds of Woodland Buffalo and one Marmot, all in the first 4 or 5 hours of travel. Got to Whitehorse around 2:30. Went to Porter Creek self storage to rent a spot for my truck, but the guy wasn't there till 4:30, so went to town to buy a river guidebook, and to pay for my return bus ticket, and to arrange for and pay for the shuttle at Up North Adventures, and to buy a fishing license. Managed to get everything I needed done to have an early start tomorrow - though Up North didn't open till 9am. Drove back south and camped along the river at a spot near the Flood Control Dam at river mile 7. Before I went back south, I hiked around a 5K loop trail to check out the portage around the Whitehorse dam, and where to put in below it. At the 7 mile dam, I checked out the lock I'd have to use to get past it. In E-mail conversations with Up North, with Elke who wasn't there any more, cost of shuttle would be $75 to Marsh Lake (to start at river mile zero) but then they hit me for another $25 to shuttle me 8 miles to Porter Creek to leave my truck there.

8/5/15 - Tuesday - Day 1 Up around 6 or so and had breakfast. Bothered some by mosquitos - there was a small pond near where I camped. Drove into Whitehorse and to Up North's shop to wait for them - they get there at 9, but had a staff meeting for 30 minutes or so, and then I finally moved my gear into their vehicle, and drove my truck to Porter Creek Self Storage lot where I left it. Then, instead of heading for the river, we detoured a bit to pick up another of their customers for a day trip and took her to their shop – on my nickel! and finally, we headed South towards Marsh Lake - but Melina turned off at a road that went to below the dam at mile 7 - I was about to argue her into taking me to the lake, but decided since I was getting a late start, that I'd just live with starting my trip at mile 7 and not mile 0. Took an hour and more to set up the boat and load and tie in the gear, then I was off - think it was about 11 am. Decent current, but not real fast here. I'd bought a map case for the guidebook to keep it handy, but hadn't had a chance to read through the book, so I wasn't too sure what the map detail was telling me, so just muddled thru for a few days till I figured out the "code" and map details. My original goal for the day was to try and make it almost to the start of Lake Laberge, to mile 50 or so, but with the late start, I was now just wanting to get past Whitehorse a few miles at least. I was passed by a freighter canoe with an outboard and maybe 5 passengers - seemed to be a boat tour of the river, as I would see them a couple more times, once at a side stream, and again, heading to a campsite area where I'd guess they were going to have a cookout. My boat wasn't trimmed right, seemed to be a bit bow heavy, but I just put up with it and figured I'd adjust when I did the portage around the dam in Whitehorse. It was relatively slow current and moderate headwind until I got to the first interesting section at Miles Canyon. The more or less half mile wide river gets squeezed thru a basalt rock canyon that narrows down to only 20 yards wide or less in places. So the current gets fast and swirly here, with strong eddy lines at the edges - just kept to center and had no problems, though the boat steers a bit slow with the sticky bow. There were a number of people hiking around the area and a suspension footbridge spans the river as part of the trail system. Miles Canyon is maybe a third of a mile, then you get spit out into Lake Schwatka, which is the river backed up from the Whitehorse Dam. Two float planes took off from the lake while I paddled it. One seemed to be heading right for me and went past fairly close – for a minute, looked like he was coming right at me. About two miles of lake to paddle to the dam, which is portaged on river right. The wind had changed to a quartering tailwind, and I would just paddle hard on the left side, sometimes very hard and fast to keep the boat on line, and to make better speed. I had scouted the dam portage the day before - it was a busy place as there was a "fish ladder" there for Salmon, and a little interpretive center and the area was part of their trail system. So I was a little concerned about leaving my gear out of sight for too long, especially with a shotgun being fairly obvious. The portage was about 500 yards, and I needed to triple carry. I decided to just do short sections and go point to point keeping the pile in sight. After I carried the boat the first piece, a small pickup truck stopped nearby, and I talked the young guy into helping me move my gear - so we loaded it all into the truck, and he drove it about half of the way to the start of the trail to another footbridge. That saved me a fair bit of time and work, but I still had to carry the boat, and it was two more sections before I got to the footbridge where I would put in. The water was considerably higher now than the day before, as the dam is for hydro power and water levels fluctuate as the demand for power does. So now I was looking at CII rapids for a quarter mile or so, and had a very small eddy to work from. But it worked out, though a kayaker playing in the hole there almost ran into my boat just as I started out. The rapids were just large waves, and not a real problem, and I swung way left to avoid one spot I had seen the day before that may have been a problem - the kayaker even warned me about it. Once past the standing waves, it was fast current thru the town and beyond it.. But it was getting a bit late, around 6pm now, and I wanted to camp fairly early this first time. The guidebook showed a campsite maybe 5 miles below the dam (m. 26), and that was where I decided to camp. I saw a nice looking bank to camp on, and pulled in there and unloaded the boat. Before I set up, I walked a trail a bit to see if there was a better site, and there was, but it was occupied, by a "squatter". Blue plastic tarps everywhere and a campfire ring with 30 or 40 burned out cans in it - nobody around, and It made me wonder, but it's 7:30 now and I decided to stay where I was. I was maybe 80 yards from that camp, and I'd already unloaded the boat, and nobody seemed to be around. Later, at dusk I hear a boat paddling/ferrying across the river to my side - the other camper had returned, but was nice and quiet. Mile 7 to 33 = 26 miles today.

8/6/15 - Wednesday - Day 2 Up at first light and after breakfast, packing up my boat. And here comes the mysterious camper - who starts talking as soon as he gets to me, while I keep packing the boat. Ben is a nice enough guy, and hands me a laminated copy of "his" river map guide, which he claims is much better than any of the guidebooks. It isn’t, but I humor him and take it, waiting for him to ask for money. To my surprise, he doesn't - just continues talking. First he's retired and getting a monthly check from Ottawa; then he's working for "Washington" on a project: he's an architect, and on and on, but he was nice enough and finally went away so I could finish loading up. (talking to a different guy down river, Ben had “flagged him down” as he was paddling past, and gave him a copy of the map also – one of the trip reports I’d read also mentioned “Old Ben” – been there every summer for years). And down the river I went, hoping to get half way thru Lake Laberge at least. Still getting used to the river map guide, and I'm looking for what I thought was "old wood road".Huh ? What's that mean - looks like a plank road along the shoreline ? Turns out that it was just an old road out of sight from the water, and the hatched lines were indicating a "cutbank", and no point looking for "OGRN CB" which I thought meant cabin at first, but really meant overgrown cutbank - his term for the big slopes and river bank. It wasn't till a few days later that I actually got around to reading the rest of the guide to see what the map codes meant, but once you become familiar with it, you know exactly where you are. Pipeline crossings and power line crossings were obvious though. Also, there is little detail of what is away from the riverbank. Rarely are the mountains shown, unless distinctive somehow - but again, once familiar with the style, it becomes easy to identify what is depicted. Not far above Little Takhini Creek, I see a moose to the far right swimming the river, except it's seen me and swims downstream instead of across towards my side - the river is about a quarter mile wide here. I decide to check out Little Takhini Creek to see if I can get more water there. Generally, the river is very silty and not recommended for drinking water because it will plug up your filter, and in particular, you are advised to not get water from the river below Whitehorse wastewater treatment plant, until well out into the lake. So I do paddle up the creek, but it is not really flowing into the river, more the reverse, and it’s not very appealing, so I head back down to the river. There was a nice looking campsite right at the mouth that I would have tried for yesterday, but it wasn't shown on the map. I was carrying a 2.5 gal water jug anyways, so could wait for water. Shortly after, I see the Takhini River and the bridge where the Alaska Highway crosses it, and continue on down to the lake. The wind has been fairly steady out of the SW, and is still blowing as I enter the lake at the river mouth, but it’s not too strong yet. But as I get farther out into the lake heading at an angle for the Eastern shore, the wind is picking up and waves are getting bigger - maybe two foot or so. The more out into the open water I get, the more wind of course, and I see the sky getting very dark with black clouds looking like a thunderstorm is approaching. Both books I have and other sources all say to get off the lake if it looks like bad weather, as big storms can brew up and hit fast and hard. I decide to head for the first indicated "good camp" and see what happens. I get there and its about 1:30- way too early to stop, but that sky is getting darker and wind and waves are getting very pushy - both coming in as quartering stern. Sure looks like a storm coming, so I do decide to stay and set up camp, and rig the tarp over the tent, and gather a big bunch of driftwood ( the lake shore was loaded with driftwood everywhere – lots of it looked like wreckage from steam ship disasters) and stack it to stay dry. After a bit, I see a canoe coming my way along the shoreline, not making very good progress, and I bet myself that they will want to stop. And they do. Harold, a German Canadian and his German brother Andreas. They just pull in and stop without asking, not that I minded. We chat a while and they look to be staying. Just said hope I didn't mind, rather than asking if they could, but it didn’t bother me. They set up camp about 50 feet away. Only problem I had was they put their boat right where I was going to have a campfire, and Harold was a smoker, but oh well. Not too long after, another canoe comes by with a couple, and they go past a 1/4 mile or so to the next campsite. Now there are whitecaps showing, and wind is stronger, but nothing really changes. It never did rain, which was a surprise to me since it sure looked like it would. Another short day - m 33 to m 58 - about 25 miles only.

8/7/14 - Thursday - Day 3 Up early to try and get an early start - feeling like I'm behind schedule and hope to finish the lake today if I can. Lake Laberge is 31.5 miles long and I've only covered 6 so far. I'm packed and about ready to take off when Harold gets up and chats a bit, then I'm off. The waves are about 2 feet at first, then build to 3 as the wind picks up soon after I start. Not too bad and no whitecaps yet, but it’s the same quartering tailwind that pushes the waves at an angle to my direction of travel. I've rearranged the load so that the boat isn't bow heavy, but I still have handling issues with that quartering tail wind, and just take advantage of the problem by mostly paddling on the left and not needing much correction. I switch sides from time to time, and now have to do a hard stern rudder to keep my line while paddling on the right side. So I mostly just paddled hard and fast on the left to make better time. As the waves build to 3 feet, I get some surfing action too. I'm mostly paddling from point to point, not following the shoreline, and sometimes out a half a mile or more from shore, even though it is advised to stay close to shore for a quick exit if a storm comes up. I'd rather short cut figuring I can swim the boat to shore if need be. They say the lake is really cold, but at the shore at camp it does not feel that way. Temps have been nice - maybe about 50 in the morning and 70's mid-day, so I'm not too worried about hypothermia. The wind keeps building and waves are getting bigger. Every half minute or so, there is a bigger set with 4 foot waves, and wind and waves are getting very pushy - I just keep paddling hard on the left, and harder and faster in the bigger gusts. This is not a relaxing paddle, rather the opposite, intense. Have to keep constant attention on the waves and wind gusts, keeping the boat at a bit of an angle to them to keep my line. I never stop paddling, and its tricky to grab a quick drink – hard to flip the map book over to the next page too. As the day goes on, I begin to hear the waves breaking into whitecaps behind me, and I know another big set is coming by. I bob up and down like a cork. Sometime, the wind almost takes over and I have to switch to the right side fast and do a hard stern rudder to keep control. Once, the combination of wind and wave do take over and I can't prevent turning sideways to the waves. I look back left while sitting in the trough, and the next wave is higher than my head. Think fast, relax, stay loose and let it go past, then reverse quickly into the next wave, and continue on. Somewhere mid-day I pull behind a headland at a campsite and take a break. I can now get an idea of where exactly I am - there are very few points that are actually out of the wind. I eat a bit and take the time to filter more water and fill my 2.5 gal jug, all the time thinking of whether I should just camp here or continue on I'm at about mile 65 and the end of the lake is at mile 80. I'd gone past one guy on shore a while back - he seemed to be sitting out the wind. I've noticed that all of the Gulls have gotten off the lake - they are sitting up on rock bluffs off the water. Is that a clue? I decide to continue on - I'm getting used to the big water and somewhat less concerned, though I still have to stay sharp, constantly aware of the wind and waves. This is the biggest waves I've ever paddled - more like an ocean with the biggest wave crests 15 to 20 feet apart. The noise of the "surf" on the rocky shore and cliffs is really loud and a constant. Problem is, I don't know what the weather is going to be - might be worst tomorrow - might stay bad for days? So I keep going, wanting to get in at least a few more miles, but the sky is again looking black and threatening, like a storm is approaching again. While I was stopped, that one guy I had seen went past, paddling a Rx Rendezvous. After a while, I catch up and pass him, having a brief shouted long distance hello. He is having more trouble controlling his boat than I am, and he is staying closer to shore than I do. (I talked with him next day - he had tipped over in the lake that day or the one before, and was a bit timid about the waves). I am more familiar with the style of the maps now, and can keep up with where I am. Getting tired of fighting the wind and waves though, and the black sky makes me think about stopping, and I see a camp site ahead. It’s about 4pm and this is a nice spot, so I decide to stay. Its only about 8 miles more to the end of the lake and I should be able to do that “easy” tomorrow. Now, as I'm setting up camp, the wind finally dies down to a light breeze and the paddling conditions are perfect - but I've already unloaded the boat so I stay. The Rendezvous goes by a half hour or so later, and then Harold and bro go past, and then that couple do too. It’s almost calm, but the sky is very dark everywhere and it looks like it is raining to the NW, and not long after the last boat went by, the wind comes back, roaring out of the North and suddenly the big waves and whitecaps are back, but they would be in your face if paddling, and a bit of rain does start. Not much rain really, but the suddenness of the change is a bit startling - so the advice to get off the lake if the weather is looking bad was spot on. Now I'm glad I stopped early at a good spot and have camp all set up, and I wonder about those other 3 boats. I hurry up and finish dinner and put the tarp up over the tent so I can exit dry if needed. The storm lasts maybe an hour, then abates and wind is less. I do a bit of fishing from shore, but no luck at all. I turn in early after a campfire to burn out the trash - it doesn't get dark till 11pm or so, and I'm not waiting that long. I set the alarm for 4:30 to get an early start. Another short but exciting day on the lake. Did only 16 miles today taking my time.

8/8/14 - Friday - Day 4 On the water by 7:15 this morning. Repeat of yesterday with the wind up and out of the SW, so it’s quartering wind and waves again. Less than a mile, and I pass all 3 of the boats that had passed by my camp yesterday - they had all pulled off the lake before that storm hit, and I was glad of that. The waves start out at 2', then after a while build to 3', and then back to the bigger 4' sets. But I'm used to that now, and continue as I've been going, point to point and keeping a sharp attention, but more relaxed about it. I've gotten more confidence in the new boat (PakCanoe 150 solo) and as I get near the end of the lake and study the map, I can just sit in the troughs and bob up and down and not be concerned about the whitecaps. Hard to spot the outlet, but eventually I do and look for a landing at the "Lower Laberge" site - it had been a minor settlement with a telegraph station and RCMP post etc. - I land there and walk about a bit looking at a few old log cabins. There are several camp sites with picnic tables and an outhouse. Not too far down river is a trapper's cabin that the book says you can use if you want to. My original plan had been to be at the end of the lake at end of day 2, and then to spend day 3 on the next section of river, called "The 30 mile river", being 30 miles to the junction of the Teslin river.
This section is supposed to be the nicest stretch of the river and is designated a Canadian Heritage River. Lots of history what with steamboats and whatnot. As I start down the river I’m debating with myself if I should use a day here, or keep going to make up lost time. I'm only at mile 83 of 467. In any case I look for any side streams or other good looking fishing spots, and stop at a little gravel bar to fish. This section of the river is fast running clear water. The Rendezvous goes flying past me as I'm fishing and he waves, seeming to be going 15 mph at least. Wow, he's flying and I'm wishing I had my own 'vous - it would be perfect for this trip. I catch a Grayling. It’s about 14" long and the first I've ever caught so I’m happy. I release it and fish another half hour without any success, then continue on. I plan to stop at an island below to try fishing there again. The guy with the 'vous is there, and I stop anyway. He tells me he's seen a big fish right there, and I look and can see it too, maybe 18". I try for that fish for a half an hour, and best I get is one follow of my lure. I Try some other spots but have no luck at all, so I give up. Chatted with the guy a bit - never did get a name. He was only going to go half way, to Dawson, taking out at Carmacks. He’d done Carmacks to Dawson the year before.. That was when he told me he didn't like the waves on the lake and that he'd tipped over in the lake. Showed me his boat, with maybe 30 or 40 sharp dings in it from being pounded on the rocks when he got to shore and tried to empty it. I would see him passing by a couple of more times in the next few days. Since I couldn’t catch any more fish, I decided to just continue on down river. I'd try fishing more on and off, but never caught another fish. I was heading for Hootalinqua, just below the junction of the Teslin, but late in the afternoon I got hit with headwinds and decided to camp sooner. This was another good camp - a big one with half a dozen picnic tables and 3 outhouses in a nice grove of Aspen – empty but for myself. The Yukon government has been fixing up some of the campsites along the river, mainly for the outfitters I think, but nice setups in any case. I was the only one there and the 'vous went past later. The weather was still fooling me and looked like it might rain so I set the tarp up too. I saw one Black Bear about a 1/4 mile upstream and across from the camp. He came to the river for a drink, fed there a bit and then popped in and out of sight for a while before disappearing. I decided to hang my food bag because of that, and this camp was right next to an overgrown river channel that looked to be a natural travel way for animals. It was the only time I hung my food. I had 6 days food in a Bear Canister, so no matter what, I could get to a resupply point if a bear or other varmints got to my food. One of the guidebooks said that there were few opportunities for hanging, and to just trash bag and dry bag the food to avoid scent - knowing that, I bought the Bear Can and just took the chance otherwise, and never had a problem. I filtered more river water here, and relaxed and had a late dinner and turned in about 9. Stopped at mile 106.5 - did 32.5 miles today. Thinking I need to do a couple of 50 mile days to catch up.

8/9/14 - Saturday - Day 5 I had set the alarm last night, for 4:30. It’s just light enough to see without a flashlight at that time this far north. On the water by 7, and 6 miles later pass the junction of the Teslin River and then the old Hootalinqua site - another old settlement now a good camp with tables and outhouses, and a mile further on I stopped on "shipyard island" to see an old steamship that was dry docked there. Interesting to see the "ways” and horse powered capstans used to haul the boat sideways out of the water. The "Evelyn" was in relatively good shape except someone had taken the sternwheel apart and off the boat - the steel "axle" was there, but not the wooden paddles. Picture a Mississippi River sternwheeler and you would be close. This one was about 200 feet long by 30 or so wide with 2 decks. No way to go aboard easily and probably not safe to do so, but an impressive sight with several interpretive signs placed around by the Yukon gov't. I was there maybe half an hour, or so, then moved on. It was still a tailwind out of the SW, but now there were some big meanders in the river and when the river was going S or SE, it was into fairly strong headwind until the next bend, with some of those stretches a mile or more long. Made it to Big Salmon village around noon (mile 146) and stopped there. There were several old buildings and more developed campsites, and a big group of other paddlers there. Since I hadn't seen them before, they must have come down the Big Salmon River or the Teslin the day before. I checked the place out, but only took a 20 minute break or so (after you've seen one or two old log cabins, the rest are all the same). When I got back to the boat, there was a second big group at the landing - a guided trip of Germans - lots of Germans on the river and in the towns. On the river, it was probably more Germans than everyone else combined. Popular destination for them, with direct flights from Frankfurt to Whitehorse. The guide for this group made a point of telling me where they planned on camping, more or less telling me to not stop there. Ok. There was another threesome of Germans there as well, using sea kayaks. I did have a spot of trouble about 10 miles downriver from there, at "Hendricksen Slough". Most features on the river were named, including a lot of the rocks - from the steamboat days I guess. The river curves to the right there around a big island, and I decided to take the shorter and straighter left channel. Most of the river curved right and the guide has arrows which show where the main current goes, which was to the right here. As I started moving left, I ran over some really shallow gravel bars and was trying to do an upstream ferry to get set up for the turn - and having some trouble doing it with the fast current over the shallows (6"), that with a must make sharp turn to avoid a lot of sweepers ahead on bank of the island - definitely got my attention and full effort, but I made it ok - that would have been a disaster if I hadn't made it. Most of the other short cuts I'd taken had just been slower current and shallows, and after this one, I mostly followed the guidebook's arrows and stayed in the main channel. I passed a nice looking old cabin at "Erickson's Woodyard", but that was where the big German tour group was going to camp, so I didn't bother stopping. Went a few miles further to Claire Creek and camped there. Stopped above it to check the camping at an old woodlot, but decided to head for the indicated "good camp" at the stream, hoping to do a little fishing at the mouth. The guidebooks had suggested fishing in the clear feeder streams (which weren't very many) and also suggested to not camp at them because they tended to be frequented by bears. Both are likely true during salmon spawning but it wasn't at this time. Never saw any sign of bears at the creeks, and this was another indicated “good camp”. It had an old outhouse, but new "construction" of a log bridge across the creek, and log "tables" built to the trees. A really pleasant spot and suitable for large groups. I stopped about 4:00 and had time to hike around on some of the trails there. All along the river there is an old trail that was where the telegraph line had run and it was here as well as other trails that went to the woodyard and probably old cabin sites. During the steamboat days, they had woodyards about every 20 or 25 miles along the river where the boats could stop and load up with cordwood. The stream was nice and about 15' wide and running clear, so I filled up with water here. About the only mishap on the trip, I'd set a new Nalgene "Canteen" water bottle I'd just filled up on one of the "tables" and walked away, only to hear it drop and sploosh - that's the technical term for the thing split and couldn't be repaired. I'd brought it for extra storage to back up the 2.5 gal jug, and learned a $15 lesson - no matter how stable the flat bottomed thing was - turn your back and it would fall over. Oh well, have to see how good their warranty is, but not likely to get a new one. It had been a long day and my biceps were tired - I plan on getting to Carmacks tomorrow, so turned in early about 8pm. I camped at mile 170.5 - made 65 miles today.

8/10/14 - Sunday - Day 6 Didn't set the alarm last night, and made a leisurely start around 10.The wind was already blowing, and again whenever the river bent South or Eastward, it became a strong headwind and difficult to make headway at times. Essentially the wind would negate the current and while it was hard to tell, I still was making 3 mph or so. "Taylor's Cutoff" was one such place where it was hard work to make progress for a couple of miles. At Little Salmon village (m 183) the "Campbell Highway" to Dawson made an appearance, and it would be close to the river on and off until Carmacks, with occasional vehicles seen and more often heard. Passing Little Salmon village, I could see the "Spirit Houses" in the cemetery, but I didn't bother to stop. Carmacks is a real town of First Nations people, with most amenities and a population of several hundred at least. There are two campgrounds there, one below the bridge that wasn't recommended (thefts?) - really just a free spot to pitch a tent near the road, or the recommended "Coal Mine Campground" which was a private campground with a little burger stand, ice cream, hot showers and all the normal amenities for RVs. The RV sites each had a nice little 8'x12' lawn - the tenters, including me, got a patch of dirt in the trees along the river with picnic tables and just camp wherever you wanted to for $15 a night. I stayed there mainly for the shower (3 $1 coins for a 6.5 min shower, but it was worth it) - the burger and ice cream stand was so busy I didn't bother to get in line, and I did need to eat my own food anyway to reduce volume - I needed to get down from 3 packs to 2+boat for the ride back. There were about a dozen people tent camping when I got there, all foreigners and a group of somewhat noisy Swiss in a cabin. A lone Swiss bicycle tourer pulled in after I did and I chatted with him a bit and checked out his bike. Then the group of 3 Germans in the sea kayaks pulled in and it got a bit more noisy, and then a couple on a motorcyle came in. But it got much noisier after the big German group came in late in the evening - shouting back and forth and they set up a big camp right next to that couple's tent. I was in a less nice spot, and so out of the way. Next morning they were pretty obnoxtious early. I was already up and finishing breakfast, so they didn't wake me up, but they did wake up everybody else in the campground. They went over to the table right next to that Swiss bike rider, and just took over his table, 3' from his tent, dropping gear on it and using it to pack up. Another one of them kept slapping his shoes against a tree to try and knock off the dirt - that was really loud. They just made no effort to be quiet, or to be considerate of other campers. Glad to be out of there. camped at mile 216 - made 46 miles today.

8/11/14 - Monday - Day 7 Up at 6 and moving by 9. Planning an easy day now that I've made up for lost time, and partly to rest. Canoed past the town and continued on till just above 5 Finger Rapids. The main rapid is rated CIII, but everybody takes the far right channel, with a moderate CII wave train that is mostly avoided. The rapid is named for the 5 basalt towers that split the river. I stop upstream for a picture, and do the run - no problem, and rapids below are easily avoided. Its windy again, same old story of SW quartering winds .A couple miles below 5 Finger is Rink Rapid. As you approach it, it does not look like you can avoid the rocks that seem to span the river, but guidebooks say stay far right, and there is an open channel there. Most likely the rocks were blown up to make passage easy for the steamboats - they did that at 5 Finger also. Since this was an easy day, I stopped to fish the mouth of Tatchun Creek. I see two Bald Eagles sitting there and some gulls and Ravens, so I think ok, must be fish here right? I landed on a little grassy bank, 5 feet away from the alders and brush and see fish eggs, or maybe a crap pile that had been mostly salmon eggs. I threw in a few times, but no fish, then I start thinking that the birds aren’t there to fish, but to scavenge on leavings from bears, and I start to get this creepy feeling - didn't stay long and never saw a fish and it was only a few hundred yards up to the Klondike Highway (Carmacks to Dawson), but I still didn't like it - no chance if a bear showed up, and since there weren't any fish, I left pretty quickly. Continued on till about 2:00 and stopped for the day at a campsite I checked out noted as "good high water camp", and it was about 15' above the water at this level. Some group, boyscouts? Had played at building a log cabin here - they cut a bunch of 4 to 6 inch logs about 8' long and built a 3 walled roofless shelter? Made no sense to me, but it was all recent activity. I relaxed and read my book some, sitting in an Alite Mayfly chair I'd brought along. With only the one portage around the dam, I brought along the chair as a luxury item - it was nice to be able to lean back and sit and read in comfort. About 4:30 or so, I see a bear across the river. It came out of the brush to the water for a drink, and then back into cover for a nap. I saw it again in the evening, and this time I had my 10X binoculars handy, and using them I could see that it was a Grizzly, not a Black bear. I watched it for a while as it pulled down the alders or whatever and fed on shoots or seeds or whatever on the tops. It would appear and disappear at times, then once, it seemed to stand up and look right at me - more likely it could see my red canoe on the shore. After a few minutes of that, it proceeded to climb up the steep bank for 300 feet or so and disappeared for good into the forest. So I've seen two bears across the river from my campsites now – wonder how many are on my side that I can't see? Didn't bother me though, except for that bit at Tatchun Creek. I would normally keep the can of Bear Spray handy, and also loaded up the shotgun at camp. Solo, you are a bit more of a target than in a group. But I think I was the only person on the river with a shotgun, most people didn't bother. camped at mile 255 - did 39 miles today

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