Yukon Journal: Part 1
Fairbanks and departure, Nenana,
contents: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
124° 15' 40"N
After a last drink with Bob and Judy at the "Big I", I head for the Chena river about 500' away. Many of the locals who I've met in the past week are there to see me off. Jack the proprietor gives me a bottle of Cognac, which I'll open when I reach the Tanana.
It's 6:00p.m.1 & misting when I leave. I travel about 10 miles in four hours. No current. The weather clears up while I'm on the river.
I stop just above the confluence with the Tanana, camp, and cook a large T-bone for my first meal, a tradition of wilderness trekking. With few mosquitos about I just use the mosquito netting of my tent to cover my head as I bed down under the stars.
Weather is fair, temperature is in the 70's, with little wind.
I make about 40 miles in 8 hours.
The fishwheel is used for fishing for salmon on the Yukon and Tanana Rivers above the delta. It consists of a river operated paddle wheel which drives two large baskets. Constantly moving through the water, the baskets scoop up the passing fish and dump them into a large holding tank.
The fisherman needs only empty the tank to obtain his salmon, Chum or Dog Salmon for the dog team and Sockeye and King or Chinook for his table.
I stopped in the Corner Bar for a beer and was asked by an Indian lady if I'm the guy going to the Mouth of the Yukon. Is this my 15 minutes of Fame?
Made about 40 miles in about 8 hours. Weather same as yesterday.
Broke camp about 3 p.m., made about 24 miles in about seven hours. Big wide meanders with slow current, a stiff North wind, & War & Peace2 kept me from making much time.
I saw a beaver this evening. I was drifting along when I heard his k'splat! I didn't recognize it until I saw his head swimming toward shore. When he got there, he gave another ker-splat and dove into his home.
So far no bear or moose although every camp I make has a liberal amount of moose signs: browsed willow, prints and droppings. No bear signs yet.
Looks like it might rain tonight.
Calamine lotion works better for mosquito bites than it does for Poison Oak as my hand had returned to its normal size in a few hours. I think I'll use the tent from now on, so I cut some poles and stakes which I'll carry with me.
I don't know what time it is. I broke camp four hours ago, but my watch3 had stopped. The sun was about 200° on my magnetic compass but what that means I don't know. There's a legend on the bottom of the chart which states that "magnetic north varied from 24 to 27° east with the vertical axis of the chart at its bottom in 1956". All of which leaves me going down the Tanana.
I figure I will make the Yukon sometime tomorrow.
A boat just passed me, river scow c.20' long with large outboard.4 Very common craft on the Tanana. I've seen at least one most of the days I've been on the river. At Nenana there were about a dozen pulled up on the beach. Made about 30 miles in six hours. I seem to be averaging five mph. Good, barring halts, I should make the mouth of the Yukon in about three weeks.
Rain again today. Just went through a small shower, but looks like I'm coming into a dilly. Sky ahead completely black, much thunder while overhead puffy white clouds and blue sky. Time to batten down the hatches.5
It was a dilly, 1/8-3/8" hail, 25 mph wind, horizontal rain. I just turned my back to the wind and sat it out. Lucky it was short, about 10-15 min, seemed longer. The wind almost completely negated the force of the current.
It rained off and on pretty much the rest of the day.
(It's been raining so much everything is beginning to run together. This section belongs at the end of Sun, Aug 6th) [in the original it follows Aug 7]
Made camp in intermittent rain, set up tent as pup tent with floor and made large smoky fire.
Supper consisted of bacon, Shaggy Mane mushrooms picked at the prior camp, tea and the first part of Jack's (proprietor of the Big I) going away present, a bottle of Martell Cognac. A sumtuous repast indeed.
What with the fire, pup tent and a small breeze the mosquitos were kept at bay and this was the best camp so far. It is possible that the Cognac and the Yukon just beyond the bend, both had something to do with my enjoyment.
Made camp about sixteen miles beyond the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon. Made beans. Good.
Today while paddling toward Tanana I saw four Sandhill Cranes. First time I've seen them since the Colorado Trip. [q.v. return via browser BACK button]
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
edited by Peter J Wait, 10/6/00 1:25:41 AM