Tanana-Yukon Trip Appendices, 1972

contents this page:
Reflections upon the journey
Food List | Wild Foods | Bird List | Mammal List
some fragments that became the reflections
...and beyond:
Journal Contents | Home Page Contents


     These reflections were written on COBOL coding sheets, so I know it was after I returned to SF, probably in 1973. They are based on jotting from the journal. They still needed work. Except for "On the Delta", I added the titles and did a little pruning and refining. PJW 10/3/00





The distant clear blue sky is mirrored on the endless flat river. The high soaring gulls shrill "Kew...Kew...Kew." The hot sun refines all to a hard bright purity. Water from my paddle splashes upon my face. It is coldness. The sun dries it. It is warmth.




Stormy Waters

Wild kayak tossing seas are welded to scudding thunderheads by angry rain and storm flung foam. I too am incorporated. Survival becomes instinctive. I am filled with awe and fear. Washed clean of muddying thought.




The Gulls

The quietly roiling flood joins the somber grey overcast. I am calm and at peace. My brothers, the gulls softly call out to me in friendly greeting "gurkle... gurkle... Hello, how are you?" I respond "gurkle... gurkle... Fine, how are you?"
     Then with a parting "Kew... Kew... " we slide off on our seperate ways, which are but one.




On the Delta

The river is wide, calm, and flat. It stretches straight ahead and behind farther than eye or mind can see, in both time and space. The sky is low, flat and grey. The overcast is indistinguishable from the river. The light is a diffused luminescence. The low shores are indistinct, shrouded in the mist.
     Sky, water and time have merged without seam. Nothing is distinct. I am one with a luminescent grey void.



Food Taken

amt used unused NDB# kcal
g carb
4 lbs white beans all none 16050 139.000 25.100
4 lbs red beans 2 2 16031 124.000 22.410
5 lbs rye flour all none 20064 354.000 77.490
5 lbs whole wheat flour 3 2 20080 339.000 72.570
2 lbs rice none 2 20045 130.000 28.170
26 oz Familia (breakfast food) all none
5 lbs mixed breakfast cereals
4 lbs raisins 3 1 09298 300.000 79.130
8 2oz dehydrated vegetables 4 4
3 gal Wyler's leamon-ade 2 1
18 lbs bacon 11 7 (rancid) 10124 576.000 0.590
10 lbs salt pork 6 4 10165 748.000 0.000
2 lb canned ham all none 10139 190.000 0.020
2 lb cheddar cheese all none 01009 402.577 1.280
6 gal dried milk 3 3 01155 358.000 52.190
3 sm can condensed milk all none
2 lb Crisco ¼
7 pack powdered egg 3 4
2 lb wild berry jam ¼
1 lb peanut butter ¾ ¼ 16098 593.000 19.280
3 ea Kendal Mint Cake ½ kids @StM



Wild Foods Eaten

F = eaten continuously while in forest
T = while in tundra
n = number of meals
F Rose Hips continuously until last week in aug, too ripe
Raspberries very few
Indian Berries (High Bush Cranberries)
tasted only, very sour
Currents picked at a deserted cabin
T Blueberries Tundra berries may be picked in great quantities
by running your hand, fingers slightly spread,
through the inches high vegetation.
T Cranberries the sweetest in the world
T Moss Berries very juicy, tart, slightly astringent;
would make good wine
2 Shaggy Manes
(dotson' kkuskkoya*)
an excellent eating mushroom
5 Moose all game supplied by Yupiks
3 Whitefish
2 Duck
Salmon, smoked
note: Names within ( ) are Kokoyan, the dialect of the native people of the lower Tanana and the Yukon downstream to Kaltag.
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Birds Identified (* for the first time)

* American Widgeon
8/25 immature
* Black Bellied Plover
* Black Brant Goose a few times on Tanana & upper Yukon
* Bullock's Oriale 9/1 in cottonwoods
outside of range according to Peterson
Boreal Owl pet, in Kotlik
drowned in rain barrel
Canadian Goose very common
Common Raven
very numerous
* Fox Sparrow
(kitsaan'loy doldoya)
Glaucous Gull 8/22 most common gull near coast
Glaucous Winged Gull 8/22 very common lower Yukon
Great Horned Owl (by call only) common
* Green Winged Teal 9/8 identified after shot
* Harlequin Duck
(taasa hul'aana)
* Hawk Owl once
Herring Gull only on Tanana & upper Yukon
King Fisher common on Tanana & upper Yukon
* Osprey 8/30
Hawk or Falcon injured in Yupik boat
potential pet?
* Pin Tail Duck 8/25 Fem, immature or males in breeding plumage
Robin 9/5
Sandhill Crane
once @ Tanana & Yukon
again, heard many times
* Sharp-Shinned Hawk 8/20
Snowy Owl 9/6 1st since I was a lad in Wisc.
* Snowy Plover the most common shore bird
not w/i 200 mi of mouth
swans 9/1 couldn't identify species as too dark
* Tree Sparrow 9/5
Tree Swallows once in great numbers
* White Fronted Goose once
* White Winged Scoter 8/19 & subsequantly


Beaver 8/3
Black Bear
8/10 sighting &
8/23 another
* Marten
8/28 visitation
picture and description
Moose 8/17, cow
mouse in abandoned fish camp
Rabbit 8/15



fragments from the journal

[note: It is from these and other jottings that the "Reflections" were crafted.]

the delta c
the river is more than a mile wide and stretches straight ahead and behind. The sky is flat unmarked grey. The light comes from all around. The atmosphere is a mixture of...
I remember a sense of distinctness, unique
     The far distant clear blue sky is mirrored on the endless flat water river. The hot sun heating ^refiningall to a hard purity. The high soaring gulls calling "Kew... Kew... Kew... " Cold water splashing from my paddle lands on my hot forehead.
I am a distinct entity in a world of pure distinct elements. ^The air is one thing, pure hot, water is one pure cold, sky is one, pure brightness.  
steady rain, depression, moose, beer.
Sunset, molten sea
delta indestinct lost


transcribed by Peter J Wait, 9/29/00 11:20:30 PM
edited by Peter J Wait, 10/2/00 10:59:25 AM
copywrite © by Peter J Wait 10/2/00 11:04:59 AM