After a great breakfast of pancakes and a recharge of our devices in the washeteria, we were loaded and pulling out of Circle around 8:00.
This next section is called the Yukon Flats and we soon could understand how it got its name.
We had topo maps which were good for the overview, but for the details we were relying on Gaia, a program we had put on our devices. Gaia showed us our location and generally the most efficient channel. Each year the Yukon changes its path and sometimes Gaia showed us going overland. We could easily understand how steamships could become grounded and be destroyed. There was some current, but at times it wasn't exactly going where we wanted to go. There is a lot of water flowing and even if the current wasn't real strong it is difficult to go against it.
Looking at Gaia and the topo map we determined that we had made it past the Whirlpool section and it would be good to look for camp.
From here on out we will be mainly camping on gravel bars. First we check for bear tracks and if they are absent we look for level ground to set up our tent and kitchen.
Another day of paddling the flats. Several motor boats have gone by today. We note their route, but they quickly disappear from sight and we are back to Gaia and topos for route finding.
Today we paddled north of the Arctic Circle and reached the town of Fort Yukon. Don headed into town to see if we could get some fresh produce and water. It was a decent size store, but quite expensive. A gallon of water was over $8.00 and two oranges were over $5.00. We ate the oranges slowly to savor the flavor. A couple of men from the town welcomed us and tried to sell us some frozen salmon which we declined. It was still early in the morning and they already had been drinking.
Fort Yukon is the furtherest North we will be on this trip. Soon our bow will be pointing South. We pass a barge that appears to be stuck on a sand bar. It is slowly trying to break loose. A motor boat seems to be looking for a better route for the barge. We are glad that the draft of our canoe is minimal. Once again we find a gravel bar and put up the tarp. Today it is for shade as the temps are quite high.
Miles paddled 55
We were up by 4 this morning and had a breakfast of banana pancakes, thanks to the store at Fort Yukon. Life is a paddle rhythm now. Stroke by stroke!
Today was a hot one, most likely the hottest day of the trip. It felt good to take a float break and watch the shore go by.
Lots of charging the devices today.
Later in the day we noticed another smoke flume. We were never sure where it was as we never got close to any flames. The smoke cloud was impressive,
We passed our first village since Circle. The town of Beaver, is off the road system. We missed the channel that heads to the village so we were only able to see it from a afar.
We decided to make camp just past Beaver. We stopped with plenty of sunlight left and set out the solar panels to do some charging.
We are quite impressed with the tent stakes we are using!
Gravel goes deep and the tent stakes work great.
Another nice campsite to enjoy the evening!
We have been getting up right before sunrise and getting on the water within 2 hours. Somedays are a little faster, but it almost seems regardless the time works out to be the same. We keep waiting for the afternoon storms, but so far they have not come. The days are just beautiful with lots of cloud formations.
At times we felt like we were paddling on a large lake. Don thought that this area reminded him of the plains or the prairies with water instead of land. Again we are thankful for Gaia so at least we know where we are. The topos are good for an overview, but not so good for the exact location. We have passed several canoe groups today. Most of them were on the shore and the only contact was a wave. With the Yukon having so many channels it is quite easy not to see other boaters. It was a good day of paddling and it felt good to make camp.
Time to take off the paddle pants and enjoy the sky once more!
Miles paddled 60
It was a 10 star sunrise today. We are close to Steven's village where we hope to fill up our drinking water so didn't feel the need to be on the water so early,.
And then it was pure gold as the sun rose higher!
We carefully followed our maps and soon saw some cabins that were on the outside of the village. The Yukon has eroded a lot of the banks and several of the cabins were in danger of being taken by the river. Several had ropes or ladders that helped them get to the water.
We pulled into the village when we saw the first row of boats. Don went on a water scout and after finding someone to ask was pointed to the water distribution building. It was a do it yourself, just push a button and out comes the water. It wasn't long when we were back on the river. Glad we stopped when we did as the town stretched out for a mile or so.
It wasn't long till we saw the Alaska Pipe line and the Haul road in the distance.
This is the third bridge that we have gone under since starting the trip and it will be the last one on the river. There is a small restaurant and hotel here. We plan to stop and see if we can get some emails.
Don went up to see about emails and showers. Showers were fifteen dollars a piece so decided that we were not that dirty. He was also successful in getting a batch of emails. One of which told us sad news about a friend from many years ago who had fallen off a roof and was not expected to live. That kind of news always puts difficulties in perspective. Earlier in the day we thought about camping here, but it was quite noisy and not how we wanted to spend an evening. Donna had a nice conservation with an older Native women who had just returned from her fish camp. She told her about her father that would paddle upstream to Fort Yukon in his birch bark canoe.
When one first crosses under the road and looks back the river is quite wide.
The evening is quite nice with no wind so we took advantage of the conditions and headed down towards the canyon. We are leaving the Flats and heading into a more mountainous area.