I have always lived around hunters, mostly for deer. The big game in Alaska from what I can tell is a multi-million dollar industry. The amount the hunters invest in their trucks, nearly every one I saw has a 4 wheeler on a trailer as well, all the special equipment for carrying the kill, how to live like a wild man in the bush with the comforts of home, etc.. The camps I would pass were like little hunter camping Hiltons!!
I couldn’t help to stop and ask these guys about it as I am now to see a moose or caribou in another form.
A proud first kill for this young guy… turns out to be caribou.
Gee whiz, I don’t really have any words to describe.. just post the pictures..
I was wondering about this steam.. I asked the locals about and they didn’t know why either, and had never seen before. My best guess is it’s the changing of the seasons, with air and water temp differences.
I finally make it into the BIG city.. well, maybe not so big, but for around here, I’ll call it big.
Anchorage had been bugging me for a while because from every traveler I’ve talked to. They’ve told me that even bad hotels here are beyond expensive. Way back when I was staying with a most wonderful host Shelley in Whitehorse, Yukon, she had been working and working on finding me a host for Anchorage. I still can’t get over her efforts but here she has me meeting new host in Anchorage, Bob!
So I ask Bob and his wife Jeanine how they know Shelley, and they tell me they don’t know anyone named Shelley.. I’m like, “What?”.. should I be concerned? How did I get to stay at your house? We all had a big chin wag about it, and somehow info got passed on and on from so many kind people who I’ve never met, connections from a rotary club member Shelley must know in Whitehorse maybe? and came up with these two are in the rotary club here.. ha! Can you believe?
So Bob and Jeanine have me in their gorgeous home in Anchorage, fed and watered me, gave me my own lovely large room, bathroom with long hot shower, and Bob goes so far as to get my tent and sleeping bag to hang and air out in the garage. (I do have several things that are wet, mainly from packing up my camping gear each morning with frost and dew still on)..
There is good and bad news about this “couch surfing”.. The good news, is that it’s such a great place to experience! Away from everything, in the wild good and proper.. no phones, no cars, no way out except by the little boat.
The bad news is, the German couch surfing guy wants his guests here so they will work for him for free. When I arrived camp I see an entire large table absolutely piled high full of dirty dishes, plenty of scrap food on and around. I had a quick worry, this is GRIZZLY country. If there is anything I’ve learned is that you just don’t do that! And I have to sleep here tonight worrying about the bears this man has attracted?? I’m always willing to help out when I stay with hosts, but not to clean up after a guy who has saved an entire week full of dishes.. very not cool.
Not long after I arrived a couple more guests walk in from the bush. Turns out to be James from Melbourne and “Zorro” from Switzerland.
These boys have read this book called “Into the Wild” and they had just been hiking alone with no map or supplies in the bush for 4 days to test their survival skills and found their way back to camp.. very hungry and pretty amazing!
James turned out to be a great buddy and he showed me so much about living out here. First job.. catch a fish for dinner!
James prepares a pole for me and shows me what to do..
There is a huge school of salmon.. just here. So close, so visible, we both throw our lines right into the group and they ignore the lure!! We tried for over an hour! Not a single bite.. I thought that was super weird, but I don’t know anything about salmon… or fishing for that matter. But it looked to me like they have had a meeting and said that whatever looks like shiney food, don’t fall for it!
We give up, go back to camp, and I make us all a big stir fry with all the veggies I could find.. the way it should be really.
Zorro decides to cross the river and get us a heap of firewood for the night..
I woke up the next morning and could not stop thinking about how all those fish wouldn’t bite. I grabbed the same rod, told the guys I’m going to see if the fishes ‘attitude’ has improved this morning and try again.
One thing I know about myself is that if I actually catch a fish, I’m in trouble. I don’t want to touch it. So I told they guys if they hear me screaming, it’s either a bear or I’ve caught a fish and need somebody to come help me either way. They all agreed.
I went back, saw the same group of dag gone fish just hanging about in the current. I toss my line in and whack – I caught one straight away.. But the hook went into the fishes side and I was dragging it toward me that way.. I felt so bad, and luckily it got free.
I threw the line in again and whack! This time I caught one by the mouth! I caught one, I caught one! Second throw!! I was screaming for the guys, nobody was coming! I am truly well out of hearing distance down stream, big dummy.
Now what do I do.. I’ve even got one of the favored salmon on the line, a bright pink one. (The gray ones are called Chum and not desired eating).
You see him in the water? Pink with the yellow lure out the mouth?
I hate to admit what I’ve done, but what I’ve DONE.. is taken this photo because I tied the pole to a tree.. I gave the fish enough line to swim around as normal as possible and even a couple of his friends came by to keep him/her company. I told it I would be back with some help and I PROMISED I would set it free.. (Yes, I talked out loud to the fish, I can hear what you guys are saying.. 😉
I ran as fast as I could back to camp and got James.. He was thrilled even though it was a bit early for him..
I still wouldn’t hold it as much as James tried to get me to take the “proud” photo of my catch.. I gave James the honors 😉
And there you go, we set it free.. hallelujah!! What an ordeal for the poor thing. James went on to tell me I can keep my promise, but now I need to catch another pink one as that’s what they want to eat.. oh dear…
Later in the day, James and I decide to cross the river in the canoe and fish from that side.. the other fish wouldn’t be on to us over there.. ha!
I managed to catch a rock! How the heck the hook got into that smooth rock???
Next up, both James and I caught several salmon, one after the other. They were all gray chum, not the pink ones they wanted.. I got James to come over and set every single one of mine free..
After some seriously coaxing, James gets me to hold one I caught.. I don’t need to pee here, I don’t like touching it and I want him to take the photo QUICK!! That sucker was slimey and strong!
I did a dreadful job, I think we all might go hungry if I continue this..
Job complete, we take our fish to the kitchen, where I take completely over and cook the fish and veggies for everyone.
All the boys are happy, but I must say I wasn’t thrilled with the chum salmon. It didn’t taste bad, it just barely had that salmon taste.. oh well. At least we had a meal.
One of the happiest now that he is fed is Zorro!
Okay, my time is done here.. what an amazing Alaskan experience! (Except for the couch surfing guy.. who was asking us for references because he needs more new surfers to help him take down his camp for the winter… ) hmmm..
Back onto the boat to take us back to Talkeetna (the closest town)
And on to the local shop for some early morning breakfast treats.. cute town!