Yukon Journal: Part 2
Tanana, Koyukuk, the "Last Chance"
contents: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
I spent the day in sleeping: Once I decided not to paddle today I crawled deeper into my bag for some extra sleep. I finally got up around 9 or 10 o'clock.
By cooking: I cooked breakfast of sourdough flapjacks and bacon with enough of each for at least two days of lunches. I save the rendered bacon fat for later use. I also finished cooking the beans started yesterday.
By kayak maintenance: I waxed ands polished the hull, repaired the spray cover and patched the deck inside of the comming where my right knee had worn a hole. It's all ship shape now.
And by general diddling around.
Now I catch up on the Log while the dinner fire gets going. I'll have omelette (well, scrambled eggs) with peas and bacon (wish I had more mushrooms). Also some beans.1
Tomorrow I will head for Ruby. I expect to arrive there in four days (Saturday, the 12th).
The wind held, so I stopped on the beach to rest for two hours. I was tired. My arms and hands ached.
From 6:30 to 8 I again paddled into the wind. Then at 8:00 it stopped so I let the 2-3 mph current take over.
I made about 32 miles in 7 hours. I think I see my camp for tonight. Tomorrow I will leave earlier with the hope of getting more time in before the wind picks up if it does.
It looks like rain again tonight.
I put my tent up in record time and learned in the process what it's like to breath mosquitos. Miserable! Then when I crawled in I discovered there were a few of those winged beasts there before me. They had entered at the opposite end where I had forgotten to zip up the mosquito netting when I had taken it down the previous night.
Todays weather: completely over cast with 5-10 mph wind. There is enough chop on the water to make writing diffecult.
I just saw a young black bear. I took his picture in pasing then paddled back to within 20 feet of him. But just then the auto eye on camera didn't work. The bear decided he wasn't going to wait for me to get it working and took off.
Another bad camp. Insects make it imposible to make a fire and cook. I just put up the tent and went to sleep.
I made Ruby by about four o'clock, where a six pack of beer costs $2.50 and two apples and two oranges $1:00, but worth it.2 Must find a decent camp soon so that I can cook again. I should have brought enough white gas so that I could cook in the kayak. Next time.
It's clouding up again.
Found a good camp. It's a sand bar about three miles down river from Ruby with enough willow and drift wood for a good fire. The insects are not bad. Also it is still early, before sundown. The place is swarming with Tree Swallows gourging themselves on our blood-sucking little friends.
About four o'clock a pusher tug hailing from Fairbanks with a barge of construction equipment overtook me. A young fellow, the son of the owner-operator, got into their launch and came along side me. He said that I looked like I needed a beer as he handed me a bottle of Black Label.3] They are heading for Nulato.
Many small planes pass overhead. This is really the place for a plane. I thought that a summer place up here somewhere and a plane to get around would be quite the thing for me. Maybe someday.
I never saw the sun, it was gone before I got out and never came back. Intermittant rain all day.
Camped just beyond Galena making only about 20 miles. It must have been pretty late by the time I got on the river.
My watch is completely useless. It has stopprd working completely. So I deep-sixed it. Now the only way I have of telling relative time is by taking azmith reading of the sun's position. That is if there's enough sun to take a reading.
Intermittant rain in morning but sun in afternoon (so far there are plenty of clouds remaining).
I left with the sun at 175°, it's now at 250°. Using one hour per 15° I made 14 miles in 3:20 hours.
The gnats are getting bad.
Some indians stopped me about 7 miles upstream of Koyukuk (Koí uh cook), talked for awhile, had a drink. Then at their insistance I got in their boat, lashed my kayak alongside, and continued down river. First stop was Koyukuk where wife and half dozen or so kids and dogs were left off. Then on to the "Last Chance" for beer and whiskey4. Here we parted, I continuing downstream, they back to Koyukok.
I could not make it much past Nulato due to high winds. Camped just out of sight down river for a grand total of 11 miles, a new first.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
edited by Peter J Wait,