That was my first tour to Alaska !
From Toronto, I hitchhiked across Canada for 6 months to Alaska, and then back to Toronto!
Unfortunately, it was also the year of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. It was not a pretty sight...
In Fairbanks/Alaska I met my good friend Mark (AL7HT). He usually lives with his family along the Kandik River, a tributary of the Yukon River, above the village of Eagle.
He was in Fairbanks. His wife had just given birth. When the baby was born, he received a radio message that his cabin had been destroyed by a bear. He had destroyed the food cache, including the food. The cabin itself had also been ravaged. Mark was completely devastated. He was now left with a newborn baby and an unusable cabin.
I offered him to come with him to the Kandik River and help to bring the cabin back in shape. He was delighted about my offer and promised me, if I help him, he would show me everything at the Kandik! But there was no more room for me in the front of the car, so I had to drive together with some dogs in the back of the truck. That was no amusement, because after some time it smelled quite strong. But I made it through this ride!
Arriving in Eagle we prepared for take off in a small Super Cub, of course I had a Husky on my lap during the flight. Lori, Mark's wife, stayed in Eagle with their newborn and baby. Once Mark and I had the cabin ready, they would follow.
The flight to Kandik was a lot of fun for me. The dog was also very quiet during the flight and fortunately didn't make any "business". It's amazing what kind of uneven ground these little machines with their big tyres can land on!
The cabin looked really bad. The bear and the spring flood had done their work. All the food, or what was left of it, was scattered all over the place. There was going to be a lot of work waiting for us.
As the days passed, the cabin and its surroundings became habitable again. The first snow fell when Lori and the children returned.
It was time for the moose hunt. Mark and I headed upstream to the Indian Grave River, which flows into the Kandik. It was against the current, so we had to pull the canoe up the river for a couple of days. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts we did not see a moose. But for the first time in my life I heard wolves howling!
Later on I was informed that Mark had shot a moose after all.
Mark was true to his word and showed me all the things you need to know about life in the bush. We had long conversations and I learnt a great deal about life in the bush. But the most important thing of all was that I found a true friend in Mark.
The days went by and I had to fly back to Eagle. The reason for this was that my visa was almost at the end of its validity period. I said goodbye to Mark and his family and flew back to Eagle. From there I got a ride in a truck and went to Fairbanks.
I spent a few days in Fairbanks and then hitchhiked to Canada. A few hundred kilometres before I reached the border, a car with two young women in it stopped. They said I could go with them, but only on the open back. Great, in temperatures close to freezing.
Boy, did I get cold when that happened. At the border a customs officer checked my papers and I was in Canada. Suddenly the truck stopped and I was allowed to drive in front.
They were just scared because they didn't know who I was. Since the officer at the border had decided that I was OK, they were OK too. It was very simple logic!
I was going to hitchhike the Alaska Highway back to Toronto, but Cynthia Sheridan, the name of the driver of the truck, told me to take the Alaska Ferry to Prince Rupert, Canada, and that I could stop by her place in Juneau.
Since I had never travelled through the Inside Passage, the waterway between Alaska and Canada, I agreed. So we drove towards Hains/Alaska and there to the ferry to Juneau.
It was a really breathtaking trip. There were lots of whale sightings. After arriving in Juneau I also met Walt, Synthia's father. Once again, I had found a true friend who I saw many times over the following years.
I really liked Cynthia. So after a few weeks I left Juneau with an unhappy stomach! But cruising the Inside Passage was just great.
I saw lots of whales and other sea creatures. The other passengers on the ship were great people too. They came from every country imaginable. It was 1989, the year of the Prince William Sound tanker spill. The worst oil spill in Alaska. It was so horrible that I don't even want to remember it. That's why I'm not going to talk about it here.
Just this much, anyone who has seen this disaster live will never be able to forget it!
Arriving in Prince Rupert I had to go through customs again as I was coming from Alaska.
Without many questions I got another 6 months visa for Canada.
I didn't want to hitchhike across Canada again, so I took the Greyhound bus from Prince Rupert to Toronto, which took 5 days. Not very amusing I can tell you.
After I arrived in Toronto I spent some time with my relatives and then flew back to Germany.
But this trip to Alaska, especially the time with Mark in Kandik and the time in Juneau, has been a change for me.
From that point on, I was magically drawn back to Alaska and I have no doubt that will never change!
Thank you Mark, thank you Walt and thank you Cynthia!
Continue with: Before 1989
Only those who risk going too far, will discover how far they can go!
Expedition in USA, Alaska & Canada, Scandinavia with folding boat, motorboat, catamaran, motorcycle, off-road vehicle, bicycle ...