Circle - Dalton Hwy Bridge
Summer solstice in the Yukon Flats towards 24 o'clock
I got up around 13:00. Everything was covered in thick smoke. The wind was strong and cold.
Through the smoke I could not enjoy the scenery, navigating was very difficult as I could hardly see to the other shore.
I went into the wrong arm several times and almost got stuck. It went on for hours in this way through the island tangle.
Around 21:00 I met two men from Beaver. As they were docking their boats, they drove into my side at high speed. A rod of my bimini was bent and the hose slipped. And somehow I think the frame is a bit crushed. Well, what can you do about that...
Just before Beaver I saw something floating in the water. I thought it was a log, but then I saw some gulls attacking it. It was a young lynx. I got some nice pictures. It is always fascinating to watch animals in the wild. Unfortunately, after a few pictures the chip was full and the lynx went back to land...
In the entrance channel of Beaver I met Lech. He was camping on the left side. I pitched my tent there too. It was very cold, so we didn't talk for long and disappeared into our tents.
Shortly before the place Beaver/Alaska I saw something floating in the water. I had first assumed that it was a piece of driftwood, however, it was a lynx that swam over the Yukon River...
I got up at 9.30am and packed my boat. Lech was having breakfast. We talked for a while, then I went into town.
Arrived in Beaver, I went to the washeteria and called my brother in Germany, I told him to write on my website in the that I could not make an update and that I was in Beaver.
After that I took some pictures. At the end of the place I met Chin and another Japanese guy. We talked for a while.
I repaired my bimini top, which had taken a bit of a beating in yesterday's accident, and the right hose had also slipped.
After the repair we continued our journey towards Stevens Village.
Visibility is excellent today. No smoke and the wind has changed.
I stopped at the Ben Stevens Fish Camp, but there was no one there. I left a message and continued.
After about 100 kilometres I stopped at a sandbar and set up my mosquito net as best I could on the boat.
I had not written any reports for the last three days, so I made up for it now....
The little store in Beaver
When I woke up, there was smoke everywhere.
The night had been quiet, only the buzzing of the mosquitoes kept me awake for a while.
Around noon I set off for Stevens Village. There I met the store owner, whom I knew from my other Yukon exp. He was just coming back from checking his salmon net. His wife offered me one of the fresh salmon but I declined as I had more than enough to eat. I told her there were two Japanese behind me and they were crazy about salmon.
I bought a Coke and three chocolate bars from the shop. Funny, I never drink cola at home!
Outside the shop I saw some rusted guns. Some kids had found them on the beach.
After a few hours the Yukon Flats were over. At Fort Hamlin the Yukon had me again. Past the fort, of which nothing was left, I continued to the bridge at the Dalton Hwy.
Arrived there, I pitched my tent on the boat. I went into the restaurant and ordered a hamburger with fries. Man did it taste good. The people in the restaurant were very friendly. I was also able to charge my battery station there.
On my way back to the boat I met David Bobo. He is working as a cook at the restaurant this summer. He wanted to know if my boat was for sale. He has travelled the world since he was 16. He may go to Australia this winter and is looking for a boat. He really liked mine. We quickly agreed on a price. Now we are both helped. My good old trimaran will travel in the future and I will have one less worry at the end of the trip.
Andreas Kieling was also here about two weeks ago. He was filming musk oxen on the Dalton Highway.
David told me that Andreas and his family are planning to canoe part of the Yukon River.
I hope to meet him along the way. You don't often see a sailboat on the Yukon River.
I also want to ask Andreas why he got some things wrong in the book. Was it because of the editors...
My camp at the Yukon Bridge at the Dalton HWY
The summer was a bad one for the bears.
The many fires drove them into unfamiliar territory. Even worse, they destroyed one of their food sources: berries.
Without this important food source, some bears did not go into hibernation as they normally do, because they did not have enough fat on their ribs. One of these bears chose the Yukon Bridge restaurant, which is closed for the winter. Out of boredom, the big grizzly went to the souvenir shop and made himself a nice cuddly nest out of all the T-shirts and sweatshirts on offer. But first he chased away a female bear with cubs who had the same idea. All this fiddling around must have made him very hungry, so next he headed for the kitchen. He found it necessary to empty the shelves and smash the fridge in his search for the right food. When he was full, he walked leisurely into a room containing various cleaning supplies. Apparently, he felt he needed to clean up after the mess he had made in the kitchen. All this made him so tired that he decided to make himself a nice nest of blankets, towels, etc. in the corridor leading to the motel rooms. Little did he know that this would be his last resting place...
He was shot and killed by a passing snowmobile driver.
The damage he caused was about 30,000 US$...
The restaurant at Yukon Bridge had a winter visit from a grizzly
I was awake until 6:00. At 11:00 David came in with fresh coffee. We talked for a while, then he had to go back to work.
Brad, an American from Fairbanks, arrived in a canoe, he had a shy husky with him.
Then Lech arrived in the Ally. We went to the restaurant together and talked for a long time about the Yukon.
After dinner I went back to the boat, got my laptop and wrote the daily reports and sorted my digital photos. The lynx pictures turned out great.
Towards evening the chin also arrived. There was now a colourful crowd at the Yukon Bridge.
During the night Don from Ohio came down to the river in his van. Then Thomas from Upper Austria, who is cycling to Prudhoe Bay. He will cycle all the way to Tierra del Fuego....
Don donated a bottle of rum for everyone.
We talked late into the night. It is always an experience to meet so many people from different countries and to realise that no matter where we come from, we are all the same. Just people...
During the night it started to rain heavily, good thing I had put up my tent...
Don, I and Lech are already slightly dazed...
I could not fall asleep before 4:00 again and was awake at 5:30. ....
I went to the restaurant with Brad around 9:00 and explained the route to the coast. I gave him the exact miles from place to place and some GPS points. It was a big relief for him.
He was a bit irritated because a lot of people were telling him he would never make it to Emmonak.
Such nonsense. Of course, these were people who had never paddled the Yukon....
Finally I was able to fall asleep again. The night was quiet except for the sound of the water.
In the morning around 10:00 David came with coffee. I explained the boat to him. I will probably send it by cargo plane to Fairbanks and he will pick it up there.
I met another family living in the bush a few miles from the bridge. Dorothy, John and their daughter Becky. Dorothy makes very beautiful handmade necklaces. She made me a beautiful necklace with bones, porcupine quills, tiger eye stones, birch bark and a hand carved feather.
Becky and John do morel mushroom gathering this summer. They are everywhere here because of the fires in 2004. For 1 pound of morels, some pickers pay US $5-6. On a good day you can get up to 70 pounds....
The family needs about $4000 a year to make ends meet in the bush, mind you for four people!!!!
I did some more work on the boat. The bimini top is now further back and gives me shade even on the the engine. The Pontoons are in perfect condition.
So far I am very happy with the boat.
The " Buschfamily "
Grizzly kills couple camping in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge/Alaska.
A couple camping along the Hulahula River in ANWR was killed by a grizzly.
Wildlife officials found the bodies and an unused rifle in the tent by the river.
The couple was between 50 and 60 years old. They lived in Anchorage and were on a boat trip on the river.
The campsite was very clean and all the food was in bear-proof containers. According to the tracks, the couple was surprised by the bear in the tent.
A passing dinghy driver saw the bear at the tent and notified the authorities in Kaktovik.
The couple's campsite was about 12 miles from the town of Kaktovik. Authorities have not been able to determine when the couple was killed.
Wildlife officials shot the bear and took it to Fairbanks for a necropsy that will determine if this is the bear that killed the couple.
The Hulahula River begins at the end of a glacier in the Romanof Mountains at the eastern end of the Brooks Range.
It flows west and north about 100 miles to Camden Bay in the Beaufort Sea, east of Barter Island. The river is popular for wildlife viewing, tubing and kayaking.
Everyone's talking about the incident with the bear.
It makes me think again. Until now I felt quite safe. But this incident reminds me that the river is not without risk. Especially since I still remember the visit of the grizzlys in our camp, on an island in front of the town of Rampart, a year before...
It's the first time I don't have a gun on this trip. Well, let's hope I won't need one either....
David goes to Fairbanks in the evening. He is trying to find some Gore-Tex spray for me. I noticed that I have Nils' untreated suit from the last expedition, he must have accidentally switched it with mine.
In the evening I came back to the boat and saw that someone had parked his truck between me and the boat, now I have a great view, on a Ford truck.
As if that was not enough, the guy also starts his generator....
David came by around 23:00. He said he would be back on the 30th. Well, I have enough time and will stay on the bridge for a few more days.
The smoke of the fires darkens the sky...
Around 7:20 my nice neighbor woke me up and started the generator....
Around 9:00 I went to the restaurant. There has been very thick smoke in the air again for a couple of days. There is a fire at Deadhorse on the Dalton Hwy and at the Yukon Flats near Fort Yukon.
It's not as bad as in 2004, not yet. ....
I met Don Stevens here at the bridge, he is going to Fishcamp. Too bad, one week later and I would have met everyone in the camp....
At the restaurant I met Bernhard and Rainer, they paddled down the Beaver and will be picked up at the bridge. We had a little chat.
I'm dead tired, that miserable RV driver with his damn generator. I hope the guy leaves soon, otherwise I won't get any real sleep....
Well, now I'm back in the tent, the good man with the camper stays for a while. He has a salmon net on the other side of the Yukon River. Well, I think about staying at the bridge until the 4th of July, which is the national holiday in America. I always celebrated that day in Eagle. The only thing that bothers me here is the guy with the generator....
Ben Stevens at the Yukon bridge
The generator was on until about 24:00. But at least it didn't start again around 7:00.
Around 11:50 I went to the restaurant to write my reports. The heat of the last two days is almost unbearable. There is absolutely no wind and everything is full of smoke from the fires. The mosquitoes don't seem to mind the smoke, and there are swarms of them in the evening.
To make matters worse, my hands and right leg are inflamed. They are kind of swollen and itchy. I wonder if it's from swimming in the Yukon River near the pipeline.
David will return from Fairbanks today. I will decide then whether to continue or stay until July 4th. Sebastien hasn't shown up yet, funny, he should have been here a long time ago.
Back on the boat I met some Americans from Bethel. Ben Kuntz, Ryan Evans, Paul Besile and Jesse Keane. They are going down the Yukon to Russian Mission and from there they want to portage up to Bethel (which they did!)
Ben Kuntz has a Kruger boat. They met Sebastien in Circel, so he should be at the bridge in the next two days. David is also back from Fairbanks, he brought me waterproofing spray for my Gore Tex suit. Great, now I am prepared for the bad weather in August. I also met Ben Stevens, he just came from the fish camp.
In the evening David came and we sat on the boat and talked for a long time about the trip. It's always great to meet people who have the same lifestyle as you.
In Germany most people think I'm crazy or at best an exotic. But here I am among people who understand my point of view.
Why accumulate wealth, rather see the world, because memories are perhaps the only thing you can take with you later " to the other side" ...
The camper is packed, finally it is quiet again, even the generator is silent...
A few kilometers before the restaurant we saw a cloud of smoke that was getting bigger and bigger. It was raining burnt pine needles. I hope that these fires will not reach the coast like before. My whole boat was covered with burnt pine needles within half an hour.
Ryan Evans, Ben Kuntz, Jesse Keane & Paul Besile
Around 7:00 am I was woken up by a russel and bussel. It was my neighbor warming up his camper. He was making a lot of noise while packing. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Around 10:00 David arrived, bringing coffee as usual. We talked again about God and the world....
Around noon I went to the restaurant and spent some time on the computer. It's a shame they don't have internet here yet. In the evening it started to rain heavily. Good for the fires!
Around 11:00am David came as always with coffee and this time also with French toast and bacon. Delicious...
When we were having breakfast David saw a duck with offspring. It was on its way to the Yukon. But right now people of an oil company were doing an exercise with big boats on the Yukon River. This irritated the duck. So, back into the bushes and wait and see. When it became somewhat calmer, it started a new attempt. She ran dead straight to the Yukon, but only some of the chicks ran after her. The others ran back into the bush. By now the duck was at least a kilometer down the river. David went into the bush and looked for the other chicks. He found one and brought it to the Yukon. The little guy immediately swam towards his mother and caught up with her. I hope she comes back for the others. Now that was a prime example for me in terms of oil pipelines and nature....
I went back to the restaurant. The staff here says that I already belong to the family, which is also noticeable in the portions that I always get, twice the size of the others...
In the evening two Americans and two Swedes came. The Americans are in an Ally and the Swedes in an aluminum canoe with engine on the way, even a spare engine have the Swedes with them. They all want to go to the coast. Quite a lot going on this year...
In the evening David came over again. We had a beer together. He plays with the idea to quit, because the working atmosphere is not very funny in the restaurant.
Tasha, the pretty blonde waitress has already quit and is heading to Denali Park to work.
In the night Don came by again, he was on his way back from the coast. He had some things to report. It burns everywhere on the Dalton Highway
Back to mom !
In the morning I say goodbye to Don. He is continuing his trip south.
Around noon two couples arrived from New Zealand. They want to run the Yukon with a canoe and a sit-on-top dinghy. They also want to go to the coast. They already knew me by name, the crazy German who is doing the Yukon for the sixth time...
I went back to the restaurant, had a coffee and worked on the computer.
Slowly I am ready to move on. On June 5th I will start. The advantage of staying in one place long enough is that you meet a lot of interesting people.
If you are like me, the first time you paddle the Yukon you will never meet so many nice and interesting people.
In the evening two men came along. They were a helicopter pilot from Switzerland and a man from Fairbanks. They are observing the fires from the air. We talked about the fires and of course about my boat. They were also interested in buying my boat and were visibly disappointed when they learned that David had already bought it.
During the night it started to rain lightly.
The New Zealanders
04.07.Today is National Day in America. In the morning someone woke me up and told me that I had better move my boat because a big barge (push boat) was approaching. I rushed out of the tent in my sleeping clothes, just in time to move my boat. However, I did not know where the barge was going to dock. I moved the boat to the left, but that was exactly the wrong spot. Over the loudspeaker, the barge captain told me that it was exactly where he wanted to dock. So I moved the boat to the right. In the meantime it started to rain again. I was soaked. At least I was awake now. The barge was loaded with heavy equipment for a gold mine on the Yukon River. I took some pictures of the loading process.
When the barge left I put my boat back in front of my tent. I met Dorothy, Becky and John again. They were just setting up their booth. David is going to stay at the restaurant after all, because yesterday the troublemaker was fired and everything calmed down. It's strange how one person can shut down an entire business...David worked out a deal with the helicopter pilot. He surprises his girlfriend with a helicopter ride along the Yukon River...John (the Bushman) found my knife so beautiful and looked at it very closely. Seeing the sparkle in his eyes, I gave it to him as a gift. He needs such a knife more than I do, besides, I have another one. And now I have replenished my good karma...At 22:00 the party started with fireworks. The whole crew from the restaurant, the helicopter pilot with colleagues and Dorothy, Becky and John. It was a wonderful evening. There were all kinds of goodies and of course plenty of beer....
Happy party around 23:30 on the 4th of July
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 ...