River Trip Journal 6

7/10

I’m dealing with hideous, debilitating rashes. I’ve always had eczema outbreaks from time to time, and I have a good ointment that clears it up quickly, but I left it in the door of Geoff’s truck, thinking there’s no way I would need it. I rarely have to use it in Alaska because the air is so dry, but I guess bathing in a silty river and wearing the same clothes every day is taking its toll.

Rainy morning. We are having a hard time keeping the dog’s fish dry. We should reach the Yukon River Bridge tomorrow. We’re talking about trying to make a run to town from the Bridge to pick up groceries and my itchy cream. It’s several hours’ drive, and one of us would have to hitch in, take care of everything, and hitch back the next day while the other waited with the dog. What a pain. We’ll see.

7/13

We are currently being buzzed by a couple of daredevil seagulls. They swoop low to the water, then up at the last second to just clear the boat. We left the bridge today and are now in the flats.

Earlier I saw hundreds of dragonflies in the air over a patch of willows so thick, straight, and uniform that they might have been bamboo.

The air is full of smoke from fires upriver. Hopefully the plane came to Stevens Village with my itchy cream (sent by a wonderful friend in Fairbanks) in spite of the poor visibility.

The Bridge was pretty lame. No liquor store, not even a convenience store, just an overpriced roadhouse with barracks out back. We stayed two nights in the barracks. The construction crew that was working there was really nice, and it was good to get showers, but I’m very, very glad to be back on the river.

We didn’t end up going to town for supplies. I packed for ten days, and it looks like we’ll be going a little longer, but we have canned fish from the rapids and Geoff scored some supplies (though nothing worth mentioning really) from a dude called Yukon Jeremy at the bridge. The food box still has rice and pasta, a little jar of pesto, curry paste, coconut milk from Tanana (!?), spices galore, dehydrated veggies, peanut butter and jelly, and a few potatoes. We’re doing fine.

The day we got to the Bridge, we started late, as usual. We picked the fish off of Daazhraii’s king backs, burned the bones, and then took off at four in the afternoon or something.

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Geoff napped while I drove for the first few hours. I saw a magnificent young eagle, brown splashed with white, which kept pace with us for a while. I rocked out at the top of my lungs in the canyon as evening came on. Between the nap and the engine and the hearing protection, Geoff couldn’t hear me. I sang to the moose and the eagle. Badly, probably. I couldn’t hear either.

I watched mist drift in from a distant bend and skirted a jewel of an island, mounted in the middle of the rippling silver Yukon.

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The water is predictable in the canyon. If we hug shore and stay in the shallows, we can find still water and boost our speed and fuel efficiency. We make five miles per hour in the current and seven miles per hour in good upriver conditions (shallow water, lucky back-eddies). We’re still burning a gallon an hour, so we are carrying a lot of gas. I bought thirty-six gallons today for $199.10 at the Bridge. We’re not sure whether we’ll be able to fill up in Beaver, but if not, we may not make it to Fort Yukon. We’ll try to be careful with our fuel as we navigate the maze of the flats.

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On to Stevens Village in hopes of itchy cream. Hurrah!

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