Yukon Journal: Part 4
Anvik, Holy Cross, Russian Mission,
contents: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Today just after passing Grayling I hit a stretch of water a mile wide and 5 long like a giant bathtub over which a squall had passed an hour previously. The water was extreamly choppy with a seiche1 traveling from side to side and a larger seiche traveling the length. There were no sand bars to break the waves and they just kept going. Occasionally a series of three to six reinforced waves three to four feet high would come. They would be preceded by a stretch of almost flat water of about 50' or more. Great fun to build up speed and go smashing into them. And then there were times two sets of reinforced waves at right angles would bear down on you. The only thing to do is to head for the vee. Very interesting water.
Another interesting thing happened today. Anvik isn't on the Yukon proper, it's on a slough into which the Anvik River empties. And strange as it may seem you can actually see through it, it's actually transparent not opaque like normal water. Also it tastes flat! But I liked it anyway. As you drive a paddle into it you can actually see the blade under the surface with air bubbles streaming upward. It sparkles as it spashes.
Identified a Harléquin Duck today. I saw a couple two days ago but I wasn't sure, today I am. Also as I made for camp tonight a flight of what sounded like jet planes flew low right over my head, teal I guess.
I took the detour to fish, no luck. Another wasted morning but for one thing. Near the end of the slough I saw some American Widgeon.
I was paddling along heading for the mouth when I glanced out of the corner of my eye. There near the bank were six brown ducks. Ah ha, a chance to to identify a new duck says I. They were about 30 yards away so I get out my book and binocs. But they, the ducks didn't fit. I needed to see more. Get them to move. I quacked they looked up stream (I was down) then returned to their preening. I started to paddle toward them, nothing. They tucked their heads in and went to sleep. I yelled, they looked around then settled down again. Hardly skittish. So I paddled toward them. I got up a good head of steam, picked up my binocs and almost ran them down. If I had used my head I probably could have gotten one for my dinner with the paddle. They finally took off when the nose of the kayak was upon them. The bow must have been about eight feet from them when they flew and I got a wing pattern and an ident: American Widgeon, immature (just dumb kids).
Saw also a couple of Pintails.
Another rare phenomenon last night, stars. Lots of them; Big and Little Bear, North Star etc. And the full moon. First time since the Tanana I saw either. They didn't last long but long enough to make me feel good.
This morning, having sated my appetite, I am sitting by the fire enjoying the Sun. Good ol' Sol. Beautiful.
Spent about twenty minutes taking my own picture. On the first attempt I turned on the timer but forgot the shutter. There I am posing wondering when the damn thing would go off. The second attempt was an inadvertent candid photo of myself getting into position. The third seem to go ok, I hope so.
Time to get packing if I don't want to miss the post office at Holy Cross too.2
Well I made Holy Cross ok but the Post Office was closed anyway. Seems it's Saturday (I had lost track) and it's closed. Fellow at the Trading Co. said they will open if necessary. I said no, and left the letters and some money with him. He said he would mail them tomorrow, Sunday, when the Post Office was open a half day prior to the mail going out.
Holy Cross is an Yupik village. It is a lot neater than some of the villages upstream. The beach is clean and ship-shape. The fuel dump is in one place and clean. No garbage broken glass etc. Same for village which is inland away from the ephemeral beach about a quarter mile. Here modern construction out numbers log cabins. There is a sewer system and electric lights.3
There's a hint of autumn in the air. Nights are getting quite chilly and during the day when the sun goes behind a cloud it is instantly cool. I am constantly putting on off my jacket, redoing the buttons on my shirt. Also, very significantly the birch leaves are beginning to turn yellow at the ends of the branches.
Mon, Aug 28th:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
edited by Peter J Wait,