Chilkoot Trail/Yukon River 2017

Circle AK to Haul Road

July 25

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.

 We checked out the sign one more time and thought we have a ways to go!

We checked out the sign one more time and thought we have a ways to go!

This next section is called the Yukon Flats and we soon could understand how it got its name.

 Not much relief and the Yukon widens with many channels to choose or get lost.

Not much relief and the Yukon widens with many channels to choose or get lost.

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.

 This is our view and we had to figure out where we wanted to go. Today we wanted to avoid an area known as the whirlpool. The directions were to stay left or risk being in an area that could potentially keep you going in circles for half of a day. We might have taken these directions too literally as we found ourselves in a very small channel that had very little current. When we tried to get back to the main channel we actually had to line our canoe up a slough that was going opposite of the current.  Fortunately we were able to walk along the side.

This is our view and we had to figure out where we wanted to go. Today we wanted to avoid an area known as the whirlpool. The directions were to stay left or risk being in an area that could potentially keep you going in circles for half of a day. We might have taken these directions too literally as we found ourselves in a very small channel that had very little current. When we tried to get back to the main channel we actually had to line our canoe up a slough that was going opposite of the current.  Fortunately we were able to walk along the side.

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.

 Took us awhile to find a spot, but we finally found home!  Miles paddled 50

Took us awhile to find a spot, but we finally found home!

Miles paddled 50

July 26

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.

 The view is similar to yesterday. I find that if I look straight down from the boat all one sees is the brown color, but in the distance it seems more blue. We are listening to audible books. Jeff, our son bought us a water proof speaker which we put on the deck between us. Listening to the books is a great added addition to our travel.

The view is similar to yesterday. I find that if I look straight down from the boat all one sees is the brown color, but in the distance it seems more blue. We are listening to audible books. Jeff, our son bought us a water proof speaker which we put on the deck between us. Listening to the books is a great added addition to our travel.

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.

 A house at Fort Yukon

A house at Fort Yukon

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.

 We are now using our canoe as the anchor for one end of the tarp. We like this method.  Even though there are no bear tracks around, we still try to set the tent away from the kitchen area.   

We are now using our canoe as the anchor for one end of the tarp. We like this method.

Even though there are no bear tracks around, we still try to set the tent away from the kitchen area.

 

 This area is known for thunderstorms and so far we have not experienced any. We are enjoying the cloud formations.

This area is known for thunderstorms and so far we have not experienced any. We are enjoying the cloud formations.

Miles paddled 55

July 27

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!

 Look at the horizon and you will see smoke flumes. When we got closer, we could see where the fire was burning. Fires on the Yukon are just left to burn unless buildings are threatened,

Look at the horizon and you will see smoke flumes. When we got closer, we could see where the fire was burning. Fires on the Yukon are just left to burn unless buildings are threatened,

 Smell of fire was in the air. Glad it seemed small.

Smell of fire was in the air. Glad it seemed small.

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.

DSCF2272.jpg

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,

P1000560.jpg

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.

 The town of Beaver

The town of Beaver

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.

P1000564.jpg

We are quite impressed with the tent stakes we are using!

 We even painted them orange and made sure we counted them each morning.

We even painted them orange and made sure we counted them each morning.

IMG_1700.jpg

Gravel goes deep and the tent stakes work great.

Another nice campsite to enjoy the evening!

 Miles paddled 64  July 28

Miles paddled 64

July 28

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.

 We never tire of looking at the skies.

We never tire of looking at the skies.

DSCF2274.jpg

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.

P1000570.jpg

Time to take off the paddle pants and enjoy the sky once more!

IMG_0576.jpg

Miles paddled 60

July 29

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,.

P1000573.jpg

And then it was pure gold as the sun rose higher!

 Soon we were loaded and on our way to the village. This was another location that if we missed the channel we could not make it to the village. 

Soon we were loaded and on our way to the village. This was another location that if we missed the channel we could not make it to the village. 

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.

 Banks of the Yukon are continually falling into the river. No wonder the color of it is so brown.

Banks of the Yukon are continually falling into the river. No wonder the color of it is so brown.

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.

 Getting back to the main channel was more challenging. We took a slough only to find the current was against us. Rather than doing a lot of backtracking we decided to do some lining. That worked till we had to get back into the canoe and paddle quite hard till we joined the main current once again.

Getting back to the main channel was more challenging. We took a slough only to find the current was against us. Rather than doing a lot of backtracking we decided to do some lining. That worked till we had to get back into the canoe and paddle quite hard till we joined the main current once again.

It wasn't long till we saw the Alaska Pipe line and the Haul road in the distance.

P1000583.jpg

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.

 A close up of the pipe line.

A close up of the pipe line.

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.

 Quite the engineering feat to build the bridge and pipe line.

Quite the engineering feat to build the bridge and pipe line.

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.

 Miles paddled 25

Miles paddled 25

.