Yukon Journal: Part 2, Aug 8 thru Aug 16, 1972
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the Kayaker himself

Yukon Journal: Part 2

Aug 8 thru Aug 16, 1972

Tanana, Koyukuk, the "Last Chance"
and Nulato (halfway to the mouth)

force dimension
contents:      Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Tues, Aug 8th:

     I spent today in the same camp as last night. It was a dull, overcast day with enough wind to keep the mosquitos at bay.
     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.
click for enlarged view      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).


Wed, Aug 9th:

     It was raining this morning so I got a late start. Every time I would think of getting up it would start to rain. Finally around 11 o'clock I made it. I was on my way by one. Every thing was o.k. for about an hour, then the wind picked up. If I stopped paddling to rest I would go up river. Waves up to three feet high come to meet me burying the bow of the kayak. Luckly I had fixed the spray cover.
     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.


Thurs, Aug 10th:

     That wasn't a good place to camp. I had to go another five miles in the dark to find a place to land the kayak and to pitch my tent. And that place was only just possible. After the kayak grounded on a gravel bar I had to wade about 20 ft soaking my feet. But I didn't care, all I wanted to do was sleep.
     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.


Fri, Aug 11th:

     A beautiful day with the exception of the gnats. Most distressing. Repellent no good.
     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.


Sat, Aug 12th:

     Intermittant rain all day. Spent it in camp cooking and trying to stay dry.

Sun, Aug 13th:

     Continuous rain. I spent it on the river making about 30 miles. Gradually got pretty wet.
     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.

Mon, Aug 14th:

     As I sit here in my tent I feel the sun coming out. Time to dry off a little and then push off for Nulato which is about half way.

          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.


Tues, Aug 15th:

     Had a hot breakfast today. Hot cereal and bacon. The bacon fat is rancid so I cut off most of remaining fat and fried the meat for lunches. I wonder if the rendered fat might be ok, as I still have five pounds of bacon.
     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 whiskey
4. Here we parted, I continuing downstream, they back to Koyukok.


Wed, Aug 16th:

     Made it as far as Nulato where I mailed some post cards. Nulato is a slum. The water front is one vast garbage dump. People are surly.
     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.

continue the journey

    notes on part 2: 
  1. the three B's: beans, bacon and bannock. I haven't invented bannock yet, but I will. Cold flapjacks for lunch were too soggy. return

  3. Prices of consumer goods in Alaska in 1972 are at least twice what they were in Seattle due to the trasportation costs. return

  5. Tobacco. I asked for a cigarette to go with the beer. He gave me a pack and the addiction was back. return

  7. Just a log cabin in the woods a short way up the Koyukuk, containing stacks of cases, a warehouse. It was the last place on the river that beer and spirits were for sale. I had been told of it in Fairbanks, but hadn't paid much attention.
         I remember a very pleasant time sitting on the banks of the Koyukuk, swarms of mosquitos flying around our heads, drinking beer and talking well into the evening.

     If you are just scanning notes as I do: Previous Notes | Next Notes
     The following links lead to maps of my route. To follow the route from city to city click on the river at the down stream edge of the map.
Return here via your browser's BACK button.
Maps by Expedia.com Travel
large scale route map | Tanana | Ruby | Koyukuk | Nulato
Contents this Page | Journal Contents | Home Page Contents
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

edited by Peter J Wait,