River Trip Journal 1


6 am

On the Tanana

We got a nice break in the clouds this morning, and nearly baked alive in the tent under the fly, so we got up and stripped it off. The mosquitoes had thronged in the night and were poised on the screens. There were more of them than I have ever seen in one place: they looked like pepper on a heap of mashed potatoes.


We left Fairbanks two days ago on 7/1. Our hope is to be in Fort Yukon by 7/10, but I have some doubts: we are moving slow and not getting the miles per gallon that we wish we were. The boat, Lyra, is lovely. She rides high and steady, though she handles like a soggy washtub downriver. So far, we’ve been traveling all downriver, making a steady ten miles per hour or so when under power. Upriver? Who knows. We haven’t really tried it.DSC06288


The first night was perfect. We were on a sandbar in the middle of the river, protected from skeeters by the lightest breeze. We were able to leave the fly off all night and watch the hours-long rosy sunset morph into a sweet peach sunrise.


It began sprinkling in the morning and didn’t let up until afternoon, when we packed up and left. We cruised for a while, but big scary clouds threatened. At first, I wanted to stop and wait it out, but we decided to push on, and it wasn’t too bad. The rain was only really heavy for a few minutes and there was no lightning near us.

We passed under the railroad bridge in Nenana last night just as the northbound train crossed. We waved to the passengers. A nice fellow in Nenana gave Geoff a ride the gas station there. He visited with us on the bank for a while before we left to head downriver. Just down from Nenana, we passed the loading area for the barges. Huge parcels were positioned on the bank and marked with the name of the destination village and the weight.


When the storm clouds began looking really inevitable and menacing and the wind picked up, we decided to stop. There was a huge wood pile on the shore opposite this point, so we collected some good driftwood for a fire before making camp. The tent is right beside a game trail, and our beach has been visited by a brown bear and a cow moose with a calf quite recently. I like to walk the beach and read the mud newspaper at each new camp before bedtime. It makes me feel a little more at home, knowing who has been around. We got dinner and crawled into the tent just before the heavy rain started.


This morning, we heard before we saw a chevron of ducks flying right overhead. Geoff said they sounded like a swarm of bees.


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