River Trip Journal 3

7/5/17

Camera broken! Disaster! (editor’s note: the camera was later de-broken)

It is just past midnight at confluence camp. I made cookies in the collapsible stove-top oven to celebrate our first sight of the Yukon.

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Manley Hot Springs was adorable. A crew of celebrants was playing bocce after the 4th of July events in the center of town. Someone offered us drinks, so we sat a while and let the dog romp. Everyone we met was friendly and personable. Daazhraii made tons of friends.

After a while, we went and got a pizza at The Roadhouse, and talked about spending the night. It was getting late, but the night was beautiful and I felt more comfortable with the routine of camping than with the risk of leaving our gear in the boat overnight, even in Manley. We got a ride down to the slough at go-time, beer and ice and dog and gas cans and all.

We are realizing that we need more fuel than we thought. We filled up two gas cans in Nenana, and Geoff is worried we’ll have trouble getting a few more in Tanana. We just aren’t getting the fuel efficiency we were hoping for, which I guess isn’t surprising, given the amount of gear we are carrying.

I drove us out of Manley at just about the dewpoint of the evening, maybe near midnight, when the sun was down but the sky was still pink and silver. We camped on an island just downriver. I spotted a mama moose with her baby in the swamp in the elbow of the slough on our way out, and it turns out they were good wildlife-luck. Today, we saw a moose swimming across the Tanana – Daazhraii was wired once he finally spotted it – saw a big black bear (brown of coat) munching at the top of a tall cutbank, and saw a beaver rocketing downstream beside us. We did not, however, see any mammoth tusks protruding from the cutbanks, though I made sure to look carefully, just in case. Lame.

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All this time I’ve been carefully moving a little watermelon around in the boat, trying to protect it from doggy claws and careless bumps. Today, there was room for it in the twelve-volt cooler, so we chilled it all morning and when the sun got hot, hot, hot, we cut the engine and feasted on cold, sweet, sticky, drippy, pink watermelon while we floated downriver, listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I’m going to have to get the next book downloaded when we reach Tanana.

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The bank here at confluence camp keeps crashing into the river. I think we’re going to lose a few feet by morning.

It was a fireweed day, full summer, hot and bright and lush. There was an old burn along the bank for miles, and the fireweed frothed electric pink around the ankles of the standing dead tree trunks. We cut the engine and floated, watching the wilderness roll by and listening to the silty swish of the river against the hull. Swallows were nesting in the cutbank under the fireweed, and they rose and whipped around in daring gyres against the blue sky. It’s enough to take your breath away, sometimes.

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A barge came by camp this evening. Tooted at us. Way cool. Good night.

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