Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alaska Journey #7: July 28th 10:30 PM

Mosquitos are TERRIBLE!

Yesterday we got up and packed for our trip back to the mouth of the Kijik River. We packed as light as possible because we have to pack back in all our food and supplies. Peter and I have been a little discouraged by the difficulty of the foot travel. We talk about that as we start up the mountain. We've decided to go up and over because the trip around was so hard.

As we started up we found a ridge that takes us through some beautiful views off the side of the mountain. At one point we stopped to rest and I began to pray for the guys coming in. God met us at that moment and made us excited again about the trip. From that point on much fo the discouragement left and the path seemed to open up to beautiful views and became much easier for a time. As we were resting once overlooking the river we saw a black bear roaming along the shore of the river. We stopped to watch him a few minutes before we continued on.

As we peaked the top we decided that route would be much too difficult for travel with packs. We decided we would go over the shoulder instead of all the way to the peak. That would put us at a much lower elevation. When we were hiking down the south side of the shoulder I got stung by a hornet. Then I heard loud buzzing sounds. I looked down and saw at least a dozen others rising from the ground. We took off running and thankfully outran them all.

When we arrived at the shore of the lake, we were both starving. We feasted on some raspberry crumble, beef stick and coffee. We also made a pack each of beef patties with mashed potatoes. Aaaah Mountain House! We had only taken in 2 meals because we expected to return quickly. That was the best meal I have ha in a long long time! I napped whilde we waited for the boat to drop the others.

At 3:00 the boat arrived and dropped the other 4. Peters dad, Mark, seemed very nervous and asked me a couple different times how things are going. I can tell he’s very anxious and nervous. He lived here for a few years and is very aware of how wild this place is.

The other Mark is in his 50s. He mentioned a few times that he has experienced running the “Iron Man” in Hawaii. Josh is his son. Josh is very quiet. At first I think he’s just shy, but it only takes me a few hours to realize that he is mostly reflective. Josh looks like his dad and they both have the build of runners.

Lastly, Dillon stepped off the boat. West Coast surfer. Always the center of attention in a crowd. Full of life and ready for more. Dillon is Mark’s son-in-law and Mark is proud of him. You can tell that Dillon has adopted Mark as his father. Mark and Dillon seem to affirm each other in their deepest places. Dillon has a large frame and a face full of red hair, which he grew specifically for this trip.

We threw our packs on and headed out for our first night in the bush. A 2-hour hike in along the edge of the Kijik river and over the rock bars to a beautiful overlook we found the first day out.

My greatest mistake of the trip so far was to introduce my occupation as a pastor. Then soon afterwards I slipped and fell into a pretty strong current. I immediately became the weakest link in their eyes. It was very obvious and it was also damaging to my pride, for which I am thankful.

Rain! We made it in time to set up camp and then the rain set in for the night. We learned that if we sat under the spruce trees not a drop of it touched us. So we built a fire and sat under spruce trees, of course. The next morning we packed up and set out for our second destination... the fish camp. It was a terrible trek over the mountain. One of the guys couldn’t make it with the pack, so Peter carried his pack and I took the GPS and went with the rest of the guys to the camp. I still have no clue how Peter carried both those packs down that big mountain.

After relaxing for a time, we finished out the day with a lot of fly-fishing! We saw our first glimpse of Salmon in the river! About 6 laying in a hole about 50 yards from camp. After some Grayling fishing, Josh, Dillon and I headed down there to try to catch one. We had no clue what we were doing.

I caught the first one and right away I knew that this would be an experience like nothing I’d ever done before! Those things are big. About 30 seconds in he spit out the hook. It was all we could do to keep Grayling off our line! We were tearing it up. Dillon caught one over 20 inches.

Dillon hooked the next salmon. He worked it for about 15 minutes and managed to get it into shallow water. I tried to figure out how to pick him up and in the process he got loose. Dillon was so gracious and we went to work again. I had a terrible rod and so I didn’t get my lure in the water again. Dillon snagged another, which eventually broke his line. He caught it again! This time we landed it, got it to the bank and carried it back to camp along with four huge Grayling, giving us 6 grayling and 1 salmon for dinner. A single red salmon is more than we needed for 6 men to eat their fill, so we saved the grayling for breakfast. Peter and Mark G. cooked the fish along with potatoes that I had carried in on our first trip and we feasted until sleep came.

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