Some time back, my former co-workers Dave and Ben Swift told me about a cabin that they had built with their father Paul Swift many years ago. The cabin was built in an area that I and been cutting firewood in and I knew the area some what. Located up a faint trail off of a four wheel drive road at mile 13 of the Haines Highway, it was built by hand utilizing logs and timbers of Spruce and Pine from the forest it is located in. Anything that the forest did not provide, had to be hauled in on foot up the 1500 foot climb up from river level through the steepening forest to the cabin site.
Angela and I had plans to go on a hike today, so we decided to drive up river for a hike across some Pine covered ledges overlooking the Chilkat River I had discovered and traversed a couple of weeks earlier. Upon arriving to the scene, we decided we wanted to do something different. I remembered the cabin Dave and Ben told me about, so another mile drive up river brought us to the four wheel drive logging road and the start of our forest walk.
Up the old road we go; some erosion and boulders had drifted into the roadway over the winter. Mental note: must remove boulders before firewood season this year in order to get the truck up here. Soon we come to the blotch of spray paint marking the trails entrance into the forest, and soon we are deep within it. The hike is ever slightly steepening for about 35-45 minutes and eventually one gains a flat shelf perched below the final steep section of the ridge. The cabin is located here and is in a nice location with obstructed views of the Chilkat below. A worthy hike indeed to a true blue Alaska wilderness cabin.
Last week while my Mom was visiting Haines, we decided to head out to Chilkoot and check in on Speedy the Bear and her new cubs. Angela joined us and we were treated with a nice viewing of one of Haines’ most beloved and well known Bears. Last winter she birthed 2 new cubs and seeing them for the first time frolicking in the river and eating Salmon was really something to see. Here’s a short video of what we saw…
Anticipation of the upcoming Sockeye run has been getting me excited. The freezer, now devoid of last year’s catch and sitting unplugged awaits. Set netting these critters opened legally on June 1st and will close again on the 15th for six long weeks in order to protect the mishap harvesting of the rarer and rarer King Salmon. Just because the season is open, does not mean neccesarilly that the fish are actually running. Truth be told, after spending a number of hours attending the net at various points along the mighty Chilkat, I have not brought home a single fish.
Today, I pack the truck with camera gear and fishing gear and head for the hills, as it were. I decide to drive up to 18 mile where the previous winter I had bushwhacked and post holed into the deepening forest to discover a Salmon stream where Bears had their way with many a Salmon, judging from the months’ old Chum carcasses Lying about. Today, I wanted to see if there were any signs of both Bear and Salmon in this very spot. Once again, I bushwhack into the now overgrown and spooky, and potentially Bear populated forest, bound for said creek. Soon I am billowing through five foot tall grasses and thickets, talking to myself and singing softly in hopes of deterring any Bear encounters. Soon I am at the splendid little creek, running clear and strong. No fish. No signs of Bear. I make my way back to the truck and head north.
This time, I aim to get to the braided confluence of the Klehini and Chilkat river’s where I had fished last year for Coho. At that time, I had seen the biggest Grizzly tracks of my life there and felt a presence of great and large beasts around me. Today, after sifting through the maze of dirt roads in the area, I come to the place where I take off on foot to inspect what the creatures are up to. As expected, I see large Brown (Griz) Bear prints. There are two sets, a mother and adolescent cub I believe. I bounce back to the truck and meander along a series of dirt roads not previously traveled by me, and soon the highway comes round again and it is decided to head up to Dalton Cache at the Canadian Border where there is a beautiful pond next to the Haines Highway and often portraying a pair of Swans I hope to shoot footage of.
Heading up the highway, I spy magnificent views of the peaks of the upper Chilkat and Boundary ranges. The Jarvis Glacier comes to view and I marvel at it’s presence. The clouds have parted just enough to cast an epic nature on the scene unfolding.
I feel blessed, and the underlying nature of these mountains and glaciers become me once again. Summer is unfolding and the Bear and the Salmon are just now emerging in an unstoppable and exponential fashion. It is a glorious time of year in Alaska…
Back in October, some friends and I went on a sweet overnighter via bicycle – Here’s a recount:
The Sacramento River delta area nestled between the bay area and Sacramento are a maze of sloughs, levies, farms and vineyards. John Boyer, the owner of Edible Pedal,and I decided it would be a blast to take a couple of days in October and ride down to Brannon Island.
It’s a leisure cruise through a myriad of riverways, country roads, and both native and non-native history.
Relics of old farm trucks turned food delivery vehicles, migrant farm workers feasting on Sunday barbecue, harvest festivals, pumpkins and children.
It’s about 50 miles to Brannon Island from Sacramento.
My friend John Lucas builds custom steel and aluminum cycle trucks that scream “Sell Your Car”. Lucas showed up for the ride with his single speed cycle truck wearing jeans, flip flops and an old brim hat. After 40 miles or so, he said his feet hurt a bit, but other than that, he managed the round trip total of 100 miles without incident.
Although paying for camping is not my usual routine, since we had a group of 6 or 7, it seemed best. The campground on Brannon is a state run outfit.
A casual ride with friends and great October weather.