Chilkoot Trail/Yukon River 2017

Haul Road to Galena

July 30

It had been a long day yesterday and when the sun rose, we were still enjoying the comforts of our sleeping bags. In fact we did not get on the water till 9. Perhaps that is why Don has a big smile on his face.

 This section of river is quite the contrast from the Flats that we paddled thru last week.  The section after leaving the haul road is known as the canyon. Strong winds and sudden storms have us alert for changing weather patterns.

This section of river is quite the contrast from the Flats that we paddled thru last week.  The section after leaving the haul road is known as the canyon. Strong winds and sudden storms have us alert for changing weather patterns.

 Today though as we load our canoe, the river is quite peaceful and the temperatures are hot.

 Hardly looks like the same river that we started on 3 weeks ago.

Hardly looks like the same river that we started on 3 weeks ago.

We take advantage of the calm day to listen to more audible books using our speaker.

 Todays book was written by Jimmy Carter when he turned 90. One take away for us was that you should love God and the person in front of you. We were impressed by the life that he led.

Todays book was written by Jimmy Carter when he turned 90. One take away for us was that you should love God and the person in front of you. We were impressed by the life that he led.

We are also impressed by the mountains that surround us. Every bend in the river has a majestic view.

 We are passing by more fish camps. Several are occupied, but more are vacant. We are between salmon runs. Word has it that the King Salmon run was the best one in 6 years. In fact in previous years very few King salmon had made it into the Yukon.

We are passing by more fish camps. Several are occupied, but more are vacant. We are between salmon runs. Word has it that the King Salmon run was the best one in 6 years. In fact in previous years very few King salmon had made it into the Yukon.

Our pace has noticeable slowed. The current is still here, but not longer can we float during our breaks and still make much progress. We find a beautiful campsite and enjoy the views.

 The level of the River provides many opportunities for campsites. Earlier in the year this one would have been covered with water.  Miles paddled 39

The level of the River provides many opportunities for campsites. Earlier in the year this one would have been covered with water.

Miles paddled 39

July 31

We were back to our routine of getting up early and being on the river by 7. When we rounded the bend we saw the small village of Rampart. Hoping to fill our water containers here we stopped and Don checked out some of the buildings. No one seemed to be around so headed downstream. We passed some more houses but there was not much activity. Must be a good day to sleep in.

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There are more darker clouds today and the temperature is cool this morning. Our crux of the day is going past some rapids. Although with the river level we don't imagine that it will be much of a concern. Once again we are impressed with all the mountain ranges that we pass by.

 As the day progressed the temperatures alternated between cool and hot. It seemed like a good environment for having thunderstorms today. It was a good assumption as we saw a squall moving toward us. We took advantage of a place to pull off, tied the canoe to some trees and grabbed the umbrella. Glad that we stopped when we did, the skies became dark and we could not see the other side of the river due to the hard rain. The wind blew and it became stronger than the current. We watched the rain bounce off of our spray deck. Once again thankful that we had a full one on the boat. Almost as quickly as it came it departed. We loaded back up and started down stream when in the distance we noticed another wall of clouds approaching. This one also was moving rapidly so once again we pulled off and took precautions. This scenario happened one more time. The men at Fort Yukon told us to be careful of the storms in the canyon and his was good advice. After several hours of paddling and stopping, it seemed like the weather was clearing. We passed by a small cabin that had fish drying in the sun   

As the day progressed the temperatures alternated between cool and hot. It seemed like a good environment for having thunderstorms today. It was a good assumption as we saw a squall moving toward us. We took advantage of a place to pull off, tied the canoe to some trees and grabbed the umbrella. Glad that we stopped when we did, the skies became dark and we could not see the other side of the river due to the hard rain. The wind blew and it became stronger than the current. We watched the rain bounce off of our spray deck. Once again thankful that we had a full one on the boat. Almost as quickly as it came it departed. We loaded back up and started down stream when in the distance we noticed another wall of clouds approaching. This one also was moving rapidly so once again we pulled off and took precautions. This scenario happened one more time. The men at Fort Yukon told us to be careful of the storms in the canyon and his was good advice. After several hours of paddling and stopping, it seemed like the weather was clearing. We passed by a small cabin that had fish drying in the sun

 

 A group of dogs were tied close by.  

A group of dogs were tied close by.  

 They seemed quite well fed living on a fish diet.

They seemed quite well fed living on a fish diet.

The rapids were a non issue. It was an easy paddle around them. At a different water level we could imagine that they could be more of a challenge.

 The rocks in the middle were all exposed.

The rocks in the middle were all exposed.

Camp was made and we dried out some of our gear.

 Miles paddled 48

Miles paddled 48

August 1

I was up at  4 and we were on the water by 6. Today the Tanana River joins the Yukon and we are out of the Canyon.  Didn't think the water could get much browner, but it does.

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It also begins to widen once again. This will now be the trend as more rivers add to the volume.

 Soon we pull into Tanana, where Don hopes to get water and maybe connect to the internet. A small  grocery store provides him with two apples, some crackers and water from their sink. The washerteria is closed today so no showers or laundry today. There is cell service in this part of the river, but you must have GCI. Our provider is not a partner so once again we are not connected to the outside. We are carrying a satellite phone so if an emergency arrises we do have a communication device. It is raining on and off today. We have brought our heavy duty rain gear and wonder if we will need to pull it out. One of the reports that we read about traveling this section commented that one will need to be accustomed to being cold and wet.

Soon we pull into Tanana, where Don hopes to get water and maybe connect to the internet. A small  grocery store provides him with two apples, some crackers and water from their sink. The washerteria is closed today so no showers or laundry today. There is cell service in this part of the river, but you must have GCI. Our provider is not a partner so once again we are not connected to the outside. We are carrying a satellite phone so if an emergency arrises we do have a communication device. It is raining on and off today. We have brought our heavy duty rain gear and wonder if we will need to pull it out. One of the reports that we read about traveling this section commented that one will need to be accustomed to being cold and wet.

 This church was located on the Main Street.  We park our canoe next to some of the river boats. There does not seem to be much activity here in the town.

This church was located on the Main Street.

We park our canoe next to some of the river boats. There does not seem to be much activity here in the town.

 On the outskirts of town we pass another dog team chained next to a smoke house for fish. One can smell the fish as they are being smoked. The dogs are on short chains with no houses. They all seem to be well fed and are located here to keep cooler in the summer   

On the outskirts of town we pass another dog team chained next to a smoke house for fish. One can smell the fish as they are being smoked. The dogs are on short chains with no houses. They all seem to be well fed and are located here to keep cooler in the summer

 

 Also outside of town are a collection of fish wheels. They appear to be in all shapes and sizes. Some look to be commercially made while others are hand crafted.   

Also outside of town are a collection of fish wheels. They appear to be in all shapes and sizes. Some look to be commercially made while others are hand crafted.

 

 Some fish wheels are in the water, but it seems in this area more have been on land.  Miles paddled 39  August 2  The weather is definitely changing. During the night the wind blew quite strongly. There is not much protection when one is in the middle of a gravel bar. I got up once to give a quick check of camp. We are so pleased with the tent, it held up well with the wind's strong gusts. I was more worried about our 11 ounce paddles from Werner. It wouldn't take much for them to get caught and be blown. My simple solution was to bring them into the tent with us. We had spare paddles, but it would be a whole different feel of paddling. The rain came down, but mostly it was being blown horizontally so could not get any for the droms. We thought perhaps that this was going to be our first entire layover day, but by mid morning the wind had died and we were able to pack up and head downriver.  We had our first good bear sighting when a sow and her cub came out to the shore to get a drink.   

Some fish wheels are in the water, but it seems in this area more have been on land.

Miles paddled 39

August 2

The weather is definitely changing. During the night the wind blew quite strongly. There is not much protection when one is in the middle of a gravel bar. I got up once to give a quick check of camp. We are so pleased with the tent, it held up well with the wind's strong gusts. I was more worried about our 11 ounce paddles from Werner. It wouldn't take much for them to get caught and be blown. My simple solution was to bring them into the tent with us. We had spare paddles, but it would be a whole different feel of paddling. The rain came down, but mostly it was being blown horizontally so could not get any for the droms. We thought perhaps that this was going to be our first entire layover day, but by mid morning the wind had died and we were able to pack up and head downriver.

We had our first good bear sighting when a sow and her cub came out to the shore to get a drink.

 

 They did not notice us at first and shortly after drinking started to cross in front of us. The river was pretty wide and it would have been a long swim. Reinforced our knowledge that islands are not safe from bears. It was pretty cute as the cub was swimming right behind Mom when all of a sudden he got wind of us and reared his head out of the water.   

They did not notice us at first and shortly after drinking started to cross in front of us. The river was pretty wide and it would have been a long swim. Reinforced our knowledge that islands are not safe from bears. It was pretty cute as the cub was swimming right behind Mom when all of a sudden he got wind of us and reared his head out of the water.

 

 The cub quickly alerted Mom to potential danger and they turned around and made for shore. Upon arriving to shore Mom stood up, gave a quick look and was off into the woods, followed by her cub.   

The cub quickly alerted Mom to potential danger and they turned around and made for shore. Upon arriving to shore Mom stood up, gave a quick look and was off into the woods, followed by her cub.

 

 They were into the trees and out of sight pronto!  The rain was a big tease today. It was enough to need a rain jacket and then it would clear up and then back to rain. Glad that our speaker was waterproof. We listened to the book "Heroes" today.  We decided to call it a day around 4 as there was a break in the weather. We set up camp and had just tied out the last stake when the skies let loose and the rains came down.   

They were into the trees and out of sight pronto!

The rain was a big tease today. It was enough to need a rain jacket and then it would clear up and then back to rain. Glad that our speaker was waterproof. We listened to the book "Heroes" today.

We decided to call it a day around 4 as there was a break in the weather. We set up camp and had just tied out the last stake when the skies let loose and the rains came down.

 

 Glad to be here and mostly dry!  Miles paddled 29  August 3  The rain poured all night, but glad to say we were so dry inside our tent. I am now making it a habit to sleep with the paddles, so one less concern when the wind blows up a gale. We took a leisurely morning hoping that we might get a break in the rain. Sure enough around 9 the sound of rain hitting the tarp abruptly ended. We did a quick dash and were able to get everything loaded before it started up again.  Overcast with hard rain was on the menu for the morning.   

Glad to be here and mostly dry!

Miles paddled 29

August 3

The rain poured all night, but glad to say we were so dry inside our tent. I am now making it a habit to sleep with the paddles, so one less concern when the wind blows up a gale. We took a leisurely morning hoping that we might get a break in the rain. Sure enough around 9 the sound of rain hitting the tarp abruptly ended. We did a quick dash and were able to get everything loaded before it started up again.

Overcast with hard rain was on the menu for the morning.

 

 Had most of our warm clothes on today. Took only short breaks as it was easy to get cold when one was not exercising.   

Had most of our warm clothes on today. Took only short breaks as it was easy to get cold when one was not exercising.

 

 Coldest day yet.  With the wind blowing against us and the rain coming down, we were getting cold and thought it prudent to stop early today and look for a campsite. The challenge was finding one that we could use. We saw a bit of a clearing on top of a hill, but the approach would have been almost impossible. We  had just stopped off to look at the possibility when we stepped into mud above our boot top. This was a no go. The banks along here are mostly steep and camping was looking grim. Another site that we found that looked possible from a distance had no flat ground plus was quite muddy as well. In the distance we saw several boats pulled up on shore. We generally did not stop at fish camps, but at this point we were ready to ask permission. The rain was coming down and we knew that as soon as we stopped we would have to do some serious exercise to stay warm The first thing we saw when we approached the shore was:   

Coldest day yet.

With the wind blowing against us and the rain coming down, we were getting cold and thought it prudent to stop early today and look for a campsite. The challenge was finding one that we could use. We saw a bit of a clearing on top of a hill, but the approach would have been almost impossible. We  had just stopped off to look at the possibility when we stepped into mud above our boot top. This was a no go. The banks along here are mostly steep and camping was looking grim. Another site that we found that looked possible from a distance had no flat ground plus was quite muddy as well. In the distance we saw several boats pulled up on shore. We generally did not stop at fish camps, but at this point we were ready to ask permission. The rain was coming down and we knew that as soon as we stopped we would have to do some serious exercise to stay warm The first thing we saw when we approached the shore was:

 

 And right next to it was....

And right next to it was....

 We were feeling that this was going to have a good outcome.  A man called Shawn was working on his boat and invited us to head up to the main building where Carol, one of the Camp Directors was working. She made us feel most welcome and said not only could we stay there, but we could stay in one of their cabins. It just happened that the campers had left yesterday and a work group from Texas was arriving tomorrow, Our timing couldn't have been better. so instead of flat ground to pitch our tent we had a dry cabin to sleep in. Once we had gotten out of our wet clothes, Carol stopped by to invite us for dinner and to take a hot shower.  These words brought  smiles to our faces. We had dinner in the dining hall and were also able to check our email. This day was turning out well!   

We were feeling that this was going to have a good outcome.

A man called Shawn was working on his boat and invited us to head up to the main building where Carol, one of the Camp Directors was working. She made us feel most welcome and said not only could we stay there, but we could stay in one of their cabins. It just happened that the campers had left yesterday and a work group from Texas was arriving tomorrow, Our timing couldn't have been better. so instead of flat ground to pitch our tent we had a dry cabin to sleep in. Once we had gotten out of our wet clothes, Carol stopped by to invite us for dinner and to take a hot shower.  These words brought  smiles to our faces. We had dinner in the dining hall and were also able to check our email. This day was turning out well!

 

 Home for the night.   

Home for the night.

 

 The main building.  Inside the building was Shawn's wife, Nicole and their 4 children. They had just made donuts which were made with bear grease. On the stove was mooseburgers cooking and  for an appetizer it was whitefish eggs. Shawn and Nicole were helping Carol and her husband Roger with the camp this summer.  Shawn and Nicole with their children had been. living a subsitence lifestyle 90 miles up a neighboring river. They plan to return there next summer. It was a dry and warm evening as we listened to the rain hitting the roof. Nicole was glad to get some relief from the gnats, which were quite fierce this summer.  We haven't experienced many bugs yet, but if the rain stops sounds like we will  Sleeping in a dry cabin was not how we envisioned this day to unfold. We are feeling grateful as we fall asleep.  Miles paddled 24  August 4  The rain had let up some so after a breakfast of cereal and homemade cinnamon rolls thanks to Nicole we packed up. A black bear had gotten into some of the fish that Shawn had been drying. The bear was hanging around the camp this morning and could not be scared off by shooting over it. We also learned that last night when a barge came to refill fuel at the camp, the bear had chased the workers back on to the barge. Apparently this has not been a good berry year and this bear had come down to the river in search of food. Unfortunately a bear with this type of aggressive behavior had to be shot.  Shawn had learned that the large amounts of rain that had fallen was from a typhoon that had hit Japan. The weather forecast was calling for rain today, but not as much as the previous day. It was a very thankful good-by as we loaded our canoe and headed down the Yukon.   

The main building.

Inside the building was Shawn's wife, Nicole and their 4 children. They had just made donuts which were made with bear grease. On the stove was mooseburgers cooking and  for an appetizer it was whitefish eggs. Shawn and Nicole were helping Carol and her husband Roger with the camp this summer.  Shawn and Nicole with their children had been. living a subsitence lifestyle 90 miles up a neighboring river. They plan to return there next summer. It was a dry and warm evening as we listened to the rain hitting the roof. Nicole was glad to get some relief from the gnats, which were quite fierce this summer.  We haven't experienced many bugs yet, but if the rain stops sounds like we will  Sleeping in a dry cabin was not how we envisioned this day to unfold. We are feeling grateful as we fall asleep.

Miles paddled 24

August 4

The rain had let up some so after a breakfast of cereal and homemade cinnamon rolls thanks to Nicole we packed up. A black bear had gotten into some of the fish that Shawn had been drying. The bear was hanging around the camp this morning and could not be scared off by shooting over it. We also learned that last night when a barge came to refill fuel at the camp, the bear had chased the workers back on to the barge. Apparently this has not been a good berry year and this bear had come down to the river in search of food. Unfortunately a bear with this type of aggressive behavior had to be shot.

Shawn had learned that the large amounts of rain that had fallen was from a typhoon that had hit Japan. The weather forecast was calling for rain today, but not as much as the previous day. It was a very thankful good-by as we loaded our canoe and headed down the Yukon.

 

 The wind that had made paddling challenging yesterday was gone today. Once again we realize that under most circumstances waiting for good travel conditions is the way to go   

The wind that had made paddling challenging yesterday was gone today. Once again we realize that under most circumstances waiting for good travel conditions is the way to go

 

 It was an entirely different  river today. The mountains were covered with clouds. After setting up camp we were fortunate to have the clouds rise and show off the Kokrine Hills.   

It was an entirely different  river today. The mountains were covered with clouds. After setting up camp we were fortunate to have the clouds rise and show off the Kokrine Hills.

 

 A large pile of trees was next to the shore. Don't think I would want to be on the river right after break up when the volume of water increases and a multitude of trees come floating down the river. There are still logs coming down as erosion continually occurs, but it is easy to avoid them   

A large pile of trees was next to the shore. Don't think I would want to be on the river right after break up when the volume of water increases and a multitude of trees come floating down the river. There are still logs coming down as erosion continually occurs, but it is easy to avoid them

 

 Sometimes we are able to use the trees as wind blocks. Today however there is no wind and the gnats that were absent during the rain storm are back in massive numbers. We retreat to our tent and watch the insects as they try to find a way in.  Miles paddled 34  August 5  We were awakened by a beautiful sun rise and mist coming off of the water.   

Sometimes we are able to use the trees as wind blocks. Today however there is no wind and the gnats that were absent during the rain storm are back in massive numbers. We retreat to our tent and watch the insects as they try to find a way in.

Miles paddled 34

August 5

We were awakened by a beautiful sun rise and mist coming off of the water.

 

 Looks like it is going to be a beautiful day.

Looks like it is going to be a beautiful day.

 The mist definitely added to the beauty this morning.  If one could sum up the morning in one word it would be dew! We could have filled a water bottle with the amount of dew on the tent this morning. With everything being so wet we decided that a slower pack up would be reasonable,   

The mist definitely added to the beauty this morning.

If one could sum up the morning in one word it would be dew! We could have filled a water bottle with the amount of dew on the tent this morning. With everything being so wet we decided that a slower pack up would be reasonable,

 

 Not a bad view.  Today we paddled past the town of Ruby, We plan to be in Galena tomorrow so decided not to stop. We were also on the opposite side of the river which would have added miles to the travel today. The town is nestled between two hills.   

Not a bad view.

Today we paddled past the town of Ruby, We plan to be in Galena tomorrow so decided not to stop. We were also on the opposite side of the river which would have added miles to the travel today. The town is nestled between two hills.

 

 Loved the setting of this town.  With clear skies, we decided to make camp earlier today and bake rolls and pizza. Tomorrow we hope to be near Galena which is where our next food drop should be waiting for us at the postoffice.  Miles paddled 44  August 6  If all goes as planned we should be to Galena by mid afternoon. The wind is cooperative and the sky clear. The rain storm is long gone. The only evidence of the storm is that the river has risen and there is more debris in the river. Our book today is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Audible is a great way to listen to books!

Loved the setting of this town.

With clear skies, we decided to make camp earlier today and bake rolls and pizza. Tomorrow we hope to be near Galena which is where our next food drop should be waiting for us at the postoffice.

Miles paddled 44

August 6

If all goes as planned we should be to Galena by mid afternoon. The wind is cooperative and the sky clear. The rain storm is long gone. The only evidence of the storm is that the river has risen and there is more debris in the river. Our book today is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Audible is a great way to listen to books!

 Yes! This really is the Yukon.  It is Sunday afternoon and as we near Galena, there are more fish camps. Most seem to be occupied. Quite a few look quite modern with solar panels and satellite dishes. Others look quite traditional. We notice that several have been burned. We soon find out why. Several miles outside of Galena, a motor boat approaches our canoe. The man at the motor tells us that a man known as Slop Bucket Jerry is suspected of burning several fish camps in the area. He may be traveling by canoe so anyone in a canoe on the river may be a suspect.  No one knows where he now is so the town is on edge. We thank them for this news and continue on. On the outsides of towns that we are passing, there are cemeteries. When we see the white gravesite marker we know that we are getting close to Galena.   

Yes! This really is the Yukon.

It is Sunday afternoon and as we near Galena, there are more fish camps. Most seem to be occupied. Quite a few look quite modern with solar panels and satellite dishes. Others look quite traditional. We notice that several have been burned. We soon find out why. Several miles outside of Galena, a motor boat approaches our canoe. The man at the motor tells us that a man known as Slop Bucket Jerry is suspected of burning several fish camps in the area. He may be traveling by canoe so anyone in a canoe on the river may be a suspect.  No one knows where he now is so the town is on edge. We thank them for this news and continue on. On the outsides of towns that we are passing, there are cemeteries. When we see the white gravesite marker we know that we are getting close to Galena.

 

 Cemeteries are usually on a hillside right outside of town.

Cemeteries are usually on a hillside right outside of town.

From our map of Galena, it seems to be quite spread out. We know that the Post Office is in the old part of town, so ideally it would be nice to camp near there. The challenge is to find which part is the old part.  In 2013 a major flood occurred here when an Ice dam on the Yukon broke. Half of the town was destroyed. Many people moved away and some moved to a new area of the town.  We pull out at a boat ramp and take a look. The gnats are here in full force and it looks like if we camp here we may not be near anything. We decide to go further down and pass a bulwark similar to the one in Eagle. Looks like it had been damaged and was not protecting the town anymore. We see a small clearing above the bank and check it out. This seems like a good place to put up our tent.

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This spot was made for this tent!

Don walks up to a nearby road to see if he can get directions to the Post Office. This first vehicle that stops asks him if he is Slop Bucket Jerry. This could be interesting. The man points out the direction of the post office and Don heads in that direction. He finds it and also a small grocery store that is open.. He bought several cold drinks which we enjoy inside of the tent due to bugs. We saw several people on ATV's that had bug nets on. We are wondering if we are into the buggy section that we have read about. Post office opens at 9:30 so will have a leisurely morning.

Miles paddled 27