It’s Official!

We survived the Yukon River.

This was my third canoe trip on the Yukon and Tim’s first.  The water level was very low. I’ve never seen it this low.  Dried up channels, shallow water, rocks, all made for an “interesting” trip.

Day 1

It was a real bugger this time getting the canoe to Eagle.  It took two days and the help of my friends Christine and Bill.  Lots of rain, fog and oh my gosh the mud!


Christine and Bill

The next few photos and video are by Christine Burr.

Packing the canoe in Eagle.

We finally get on the river and paddle the several miles down to overnight at my friends’ Wayne and Scarlet’s of Bush Alaska Expedition. 

It was raining and the wind was blowing.  It wasn’t blowing enough to scare me but the rain would stick with us unfortunately.

Wayne and Scarlet’s fishwheel.

As Wayne says, thousands of pictures have been taken from this spot at their place over looking the Yukon River.  I believe it too.  It’s hard to describe the feelings of peace and well being one gets from this view alone.  Even on a clouded, rain soaked day, this is a view I’d choose any time!

We started off the next day and I immediately noticed how low the river was.  This would be the theme throughout our trip.  Dried up channels and slow moving water, exposed rocks which are scary.

We did see several bald eagles though.  That is always a really nice bonus.

Calico Bluff is an important geological site.  

It rained pretty much all day.  It wasn’t too bad though.  We had good rain gear and it wasn’t cold.  Dreary and mesmerizing at the same time.


Yay, a break from the rain in order to pull over for a break from the canoe!

Aaaannnd back to the dreary rain.  I do say dreary but it was also entrancing.  We paddled and floated for hours with barely a word spoken between us.  I don’t think either of us wanted to break the absolute silence that engulfed us.  It reminded me a lot of coming home to my nice warm cabin after the first heavy snowfall of winter.  Being snugly tucked inside somewhere comfortable  with the magnitude of the immense wilderness blocked from view.

Second full day on the river.   We had a few dryish moments.

We came upon exposed rocks that we couldn’t paddle around as the current was too strong.  These were only the first ones we had to cross.  We got stuck on the rocks a few times.  Since the rocks were so jagged and sharp, we “lined” the canoe over them.  It was actually pretty scary.  I DID help him after I took video.  Water moving that fast, even if shallow, can knock you off your feet.  I used my paddle to stabilize myself when getting in to lift the boat off the rocks.

View from our tent on second night.

It was still raining so we decided to cook in the tent.  Yes, it worked really well.

I believe this was the third day.

Rain.

This is the song that kept going through my head.  I thought this is THE picture for that song.


We found one of the public use cabins to stay the night in.  It was great as we were able to dry out ourselves and our gear.  These cabins are maintained by the National Park Service and some of them are more rustic then others.  Some have propane cook stoves even and most have some wood ready to burn.  This one only had a few pieces of wood chopped but we made do.

Glenn Creek Cabin. 

Snug!

We even had desert that night.  Experiment with a cheap box of Jiffy cranberry muffin mix.  The bottom layer was a bit inedible but the rest was yummy.

Really, how many selfies can one girl take?

Apparently a lot.

Swans!

Hard to take a pano when you are in motion.

Drying out my first pair of gloves.

One thing about rainy weather, it made for some fabulous skies.

Porcupine.

See the heart?

Yes I’m still buying gum in bulk, not cigarettes.

5 gallon jug of water.

We saw a lot of fires and fire damage.  There are several active fires still burning.  It was weird because at the first sniff of wood smoke I thought we were coming up to others camping on the river as we were.

But it made for some great sunsets.

It doesn’t get all the way dark yet but the overcast made it seem “almost night”.

We finally make it to Slaven’s Cabin, a historical roadhouse frequented by river travelers, hunters, and Yukon Quest mushers in the winter.  Along with the big, main cabin, is a smaller, more private, public us cabin.  We lucked out and got it all to ourselves.

Slaven’s overlooks the river from a small bluff.  It really put our large, 17′ freighter canoe into perspective.  It’s hard to show just how large the Yukon River is.  This gives you a bit of an idea.

They use rain barrels to collect water which is then filtered a bit for drinking.  After reading the signs to please not bath in the rain barrels, we thought of this fun photo to try.  Worked out pretty well huh?

Main cabin.

“Our” cabin.

Our day bag exploded onto the table.

We decided to stay an extra day at Slaven’s.  Of course, these are the only days it didn’t rain or the wind blow!

We hiked up to the dredge and then followed the creek back looking for gold.

Wedding Waters.  The meeting of the clear, tannin stained waters of the creek entering the silt laden waters of the Yukon.

Our cabin was farther up the hill and in the woods.  We still had a great view of the river even through the trees.

Several river travelers have been on the river for a month by the time they arrive at Slaven’s.  This means they have been living mostly on dehydrated meals.  The National Park Service Ranger that is stationed there planted several varieties of lettuce for any one to pick and enjoy some fresh greens.  We picked a bowl full and poured the olive oil from our kalamata olives over it.  The fresh food, even after only a matter of days, was very appreciated.

And guess what?  We got engaged!  These were his mother’s rings so they were soldered together.  We have since had them separated, for a short while, so I could wear the engagement ring alone.  They will be rejoined sometime next August!

I never thought I would get married again, and really, for the most part, was ok with that.  Next month it will be seven years since Justin died.  I learned how to be my own person, raised my children, bought my own house, etc. all by myself.  But Tim and I have been dating for almost a year and I know that we are meant to be together.  He accepts me and my kids as we are.  The Universe has shown me multiple times now that this is the man I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with.  Like how I hid this in here?  Hahha.  Guess we’ll see who reads it all.  No really, we just wanted to tell our families first before publishing it to the public.

We stopped at one more public use cabin (it’s fun trying to find them) for a break on the 5th day.   We were actually running a bit low on food since we stayed an extra day at Slaven’s so partook of a bit of the stock left there for that purpose.  The day had a strong headwind and strong paddling was required.

We paddled 15 miles in the first 3 hours of our second to the last day, day 5.  It was beautiful.  Then the wind picked up and it was on!  Normally the river runs between 8-11 mph.  We went 40 miles that day making it a super long day.  We were paddling our asses off for several hours only averaging 1.5 mph.  We finally just stopped.  It’s not worth paddling in that kind of head wind.

That night the cold set in!  I don’t know how cold it was only that we were fully dressed, our two sleeping bags zipped together, another warm, fuzzy blanket in there with us, and it was still shivering cold.  I think the only way we were able to sleep at all that night was because we were just so exhausted from the previous windy day.  Still, we wanted to get an early start the next morning, our last day on the river.  Tim got up, started the fire, and made me coffee all before I woke up.  It was a beautiful morning with the fog coming off the comparably warm waters.

Then the skies cleared and the sun came out.  This would be our shortest day of course, paddling only about 4 hours into Circle and the weather was beautiful.

Someone’s fish camp with the fish wheel in operation.

We got to Circle about 11:30.  The store opens at noon.  We were sitting there waiting for it to open (and for our ride out) when a plan pulled up to the gas pump for fueling.  I love small towns lol.

Yes it’s hard to get him with a straight face.  And really, I don’t want to.

So that’s it.  6 days on the mighty Yukon and a new life in our future.  Have a great day and please feel free to leave us a comment.

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A Fowl Adventure 2012

Why come up with a new name every year when this one fits so well.

Yes, once again we are home from another amazing adventure to Chickenstock (a bluegrass festival held in Chicken, AK) and visiting our bush living friends outside of Eagle, AK.  Wayne and Scarlet Hall of Bush Alaska Expeditions are so much fun and I am glad they are my friends.

Tanana River

It’s a 6-7 hour drive to Chicken, but when the view is as beautiful as this, I don’t mind.

Chickenstock

When we got there we saw that the “Big Ass Chicken” had been moved to the top of the hill.  Cool.  It made a really interesting silhouette in the evening sky.

Chickenstock

Of course, the stage is always interesting.

Hurricane DaveHurricane Dave is always a favorite.

Dry Cabin String Band

Dry Cabin String Band with an awesome fiddler, Rachel DeTemple.

camp cooking

Since we were camping on the grassy hilltop we had to do our cooking around the Rust Princess.  That’s ok though, it’s very handy.

I was so glad that my friend Laurie came for Friday’s festivities.  I had to slap some henna on her.

Cloud 9 Henna Body ArtWhile I was at it, another table mate got a simple little flower.

And here is the infamous Chicken Dance.  They did it several times so we all got a chance to film it as well as dance it.

Gold dredgeThe Pedro Gold Dredge.

gold dredge

Deviled eggDeviled Egg!

Chicken legsChicken Leg Contest (yes it was hilarious)!

And this wasn’t even the winner!

ChickenstockI love all the colors of tents up on the hill with the Big Ass Chicken.

ChickenstockChickenstockYes I had a lit Christmas tree at our tent.  Don’t ask me why.  In Chicken you can be as funky as you want to be.

The days were sunny bright and hot.  We had a torrential downpour about 20 miles before getting to Chicken.  It was coming down so hard I had to pull over.  But it only lasted about 15 minutes and from then on it was sun.  Needless to say we got a bit lobsterized.  Walking around “town” we finally found some sunscreen.  We don’t normally have any because we normally don’t need any.  But I was proud to pay the $20 for one of the last three 16 oz bottles in town.

American Summit

We stopped on top of American Summit and I just played everything I could remember.  It was an awesome feeling.

American Summit

I found it is a bit more difficult to play when it’s windy.

Yukon River

After 100 mile drive between Chicken and Eagle that takes 3 hours, Wayne and Scarlett pick us up on the river.  Another friend also came to visit.

Catherine takes a little rest on some lumber for a new cabin being brought home.

Jordan stayed with friends this year.  There’s a lot to be said about quality family time but I dare say, if I had forced him to come, there would have been little quality to our time.  Eh, 13 year old boys…  Olivia and I had a lot of good quality time though..

Wayne

Yukon River

Yukon River

Fish wheel

Fish wheels used to catch salmon.

Boat parking

Boat parking spot.

Sweet Spot

Sweet spot view of the Yukon River from Wayne and Scarlett’s house.  This is the most peaceful, gorgeous view.

And here’s a video of it.  The sounds of the breeze shushing through the trees and the creek burbling below help but yet simply can not fully convey the peace I feel in this spot.

Ahhh, good friends, good food, even good wine.

Yukon River

Another trip to town to drop off Catherine and pick up more lumber for the cabin.

DucksDucks

Eagle Bluff

Eagle Bluff.  There is an American flag flying from the top as well as a cross.  I asked if there was someone specific who put those up there and was told it was mostly teenagers who go up there.  Cool.

Eagle Bluff

Bald Eagle

They showed us the bald eagle’s nest that has little ones in it.  Scarlett had told me about the eagle pair they used to watch but when the big flood of the area occurred in 2009, the nesting tree was wiped out along with all trees along the river in the area.  They have kept their eyes open for the eagles to come back and this year they found the new nest.  That makes me happy.

Here’s a short video of the Taylor Highway.  Most of it is not marked with handy orange cones!

On our way home we had to stop by the 40 Mile River which is where I want to retire to when the time comes.

40 Mile River

40 Mile River

Taylor Highway

Top of the World Highway

Crossroads.  These are certainly some of the “Roads less Traveled”.

Mt. Fairplay

Home again, home again, jiggity jog.  Now on to Summer Solstice!