Saturday, July 13, 2013

days 8 through 13 Alaska trip

I got the work on the bike from Soul, and the news is not good. The bottom bracket needs to be replaced and it is unclear if Soul can do it. I called Dicks and Eddie said they would refund the entire price if I brought it back or sent it back by UPS. However, that might cost more than a hundred and fifty dollars and would be a big hassle. I went and had coffee and wrote my blog –nothing going on with the novel—and then I went to see Despicable Me 2 and it was a real treat. I then went to Earls for an okay meal of salad and fish tacos, then for a walk in downtown. It was after 11 when I got back to the campground and I went to bed almost immediately. I awoke around 4 and couldn’t get to sleep so for the first time this trip I took one OTC sleep aid and that eventually worked. Gloria had mentioned that I might be sleeping well without all the daily stresses of home life but the bike situation is pretty upsetting. However, I realized during the night that my bike rack can handle two bikes so I can just put it on the rack and return it to Dicks and buy a second bike for the rest of the trip. That gave me some relief. I got up at about 5:30 and showered—much needed to be sure—and then headed into town to work on my 331 outline at McDonalds. The rain put a damper on much of the rest of the day, but I took several walks and worked on my outline a few times. Finally it got to be six and I went to Soul to see how my bike was doing but the mechanic didn’t know he was supposed to work on it. He was friendly and told me to come back in a half hour and he would see what he could do. I got back in a half hour exactly and he was just finishing up. He had taken the bottom bracket off and cleaned it, found that it was still usable, and then put it back together—and at a cost of 26 dollars. I gave the mechanic 20 dollars and went off for an hour’s ride ending up at the Vermillion Lakes. Then it was time for dinner at Nourish, pricey but pretty good. The beet and goat cheese ravioli were fabulous but the halibut was only good and the lobster ravioli was tough. I was finished by 9:30 so I thought I should try out the 9:50 showing of The Lone Ranger and I actually enjoyed most of it. It was a bit slow but overall it kept my interest. Johnny Depp is always fun. I slept well and rose at 6:00, showered and then headed off for Johnston Canyon. I drove slowly and saw one huge bull elk but that was it. I was the first person in the canyon and I saw alpine bluebells, twin flower, heart leaved arnica, bunchberry, and indian paintbrush. I made it to the lower falls and the stream was very high. It was very rewarding to return to such a special place, though sad to be there without Tracy. I remembered her saying that fishing the section above the upper falls was the loveliest place she had ever fished. It was time to drive to Lake Louise and the place was just started to get crowded so I took my short walk, snapped some photos and took a nap. I was going to go biking along the bow but there were warning signs about a bear in the area so I decided to ride later. I stopped at highway 11 and rode for an hour along it, mainly slightly downhill so the ride back was rather strenuous. Very good workout. I drove on and took another nap before the icefields and then stopped to fish a small creek about 50 miles from Jasper. It was a lot of fun even though I didn’t get a hit. I was able to hike up above the many cascades without my knees giving me too much of a problem so that was very good news. I drove to my campground and found it fine, then headed into Jasper for dinner at the Fiddle River Seafood restaurant but though the mushroom soup was very good, the ceasar salad was average and the bison lasagna mediocre, not really a lasagna at all, more like a sweetish stew. I walked around some more and then drove back and took a well needed shower before turning in. The next morning (Wednesday the 10th) I was a little nervous as I had to get things set up for my kayak run at Beckers. I decided to start about a mile above Beckers and I had things set up by 8:30 so I had plenty of time to do little chores. To my surprise the rafting company drove up and told me that yes Jeff worked for them and yes they would watch me at Beckers. I met a young man who was paddling the smaller version of my boat, and I followed him through Beckers and just catching the edge of the wall. It was a lot of fun and I felt so good about paddling again. After riding my bike up to the truck I changed and then went to pick up the kayak and gear. I then chatted with Cathy Gallo about Claire and started my drive to Fort St. John, 360 miles away. It started to rain just past Hinton and it didn’t stop till I reached Grande Prairie, where my check engine light also went on. Luckily, I called the Nissan dealer and they were able to check it out though I will have to return in the morning for one of the mechanics to look at it. I decided to try to play golf and there was a combination golf course and campground only a few minutes away so I was able to play 9 holes (and shoot a 46 on the double hole round) and a 48 on the regular round. I then went to a nearby park and rode my bike for an hour before heading to Boston Pizza for dinner. I got up at 6 and was at the dealer at 6:50 and they had me in at 7:15. It turned out the kid in the gas station had probably tightened the cap wrong, but the from axles bearings were leaking and fortunately that 600 dollar job was covered by the warranty. I also replaced the cabin filter and had an oil change. While they were working I drove back to the park and then into town, which was dusty and some of depressing. I went back to the park after some soup and a bagel and coffee and rode along the stream to where it warned about bear and moose, nice to think about so close to town. It was almost one by the time I got off and I drove and drove, making one early mistake trying to find Buick Creek which turned out to be muddy and slow. The rain started and followed me the rest of way. The Sikanni Chief was fast and murky and though the Buckinghorse looked fishable, the rain was too much. I took a few short walks but it never cleared enough for me to consider fishing. I got into Fort Nelson at 9:30, filled up with gas, paid for a campsite (only 15 dollars), and had a fine dinner at Boston Pizza, where I worked on my outline and my blog. I think I have made up my mind to cut out Vancouver and California. Alaska will be enough, especially all the driving with traffic coming at you. I will spend a little more time in Whitehorse, then spend more time in Alaska before heading down the Cassiar and then home. I will be too rushed and exhausted if I do more. I woke around six on Friday, showered, grabbed a coffee and treat and was off. I figured out where Tracy and I had fished, just below Summit Lake, so that is where I headed. I was now back in the Rockies and it was clear it had snowed at the higher elevations. It was going to be pretty cold when I started fishing. I got to the Tetsa around 7:30 and it was certainly fishable but I didn’t want to waste my fishing time on the main branch. I kept driving as the Tetsa narrowed and I finally arrived at the pull off, delighted that no one was there even though I had seen no one fishing anywhere on the Tetsa. There was a light snow on the trees as I carefully rigged up, zipping the liner in my gore-tex jacket, and working my way down to the stream, full of expectations. A few casts later I had my first rainbow on, the trout hitting my royal wulff. Amazingly, that was it. I worked pool after pool and couldn’t bring up a fish. A few pools before the waterfall I shifted to a bead head gold ribbed hare’s ear but nothing hit until I got to the final pool where I did get a solid hit and then had a fish on for a few seconds. I switched to a grasshopper but no luck then went back to the nymph as I worked back to the truck. I was now back at the pool where I caught the first fish and finally I had another fish on and then a second. That made me feel a lot better and I climbed back up to the truck and changed out of my gear. I drove on and finally stopped at Liard Hot Springs, where I took the kayak and other stuff out to dry, started a wash, rode my bike for an hour, and lucked out with the sun holding until I had everything done. I started on the last push to Watson Lake but it soon became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to play golf, especially since the rain came back and made the drive more difficult. I got into Watson Lake around nine, had an okay dinner of salad and fried cod, and worked on my outline, my novel and my blog. I ended up at the Watson lake provincial campground and it was pretty deserted. I took a site next to the only other campers in the place and after a short walk, went to sleep with no mosquito problem probably because it was so cold. I awoke at a little past six and began driving toward Whitehorse. It was rainy and I thought I would skip the Swift but by the time I got back into BC, the sky was clearing and I stopped at the Swift. Nothing, not a hit, on a Royal Wulff, wooly bugger, big stonefly, bead head hare’s ear. Still, it was pleasant to return to some memorable water and I will probably try on my way back. Later I stopped at a very tempting little stream, but dries and nymphs had no results. I did hike up a few hundred yards so I really thought I would have some luck. Anyway, fishing was over for the day and though I didn’t get a hit I had a lot of fun. I had lunch in Teslin, at the only restaurant left in town, the gas station/rv park/restaurant and it was a very good garden burger. I drove on and after a good nap made it to the meadow lakes golf course. I’ve played this short but challenging course before, and it proved to have some very tricky shots but I shot a 48 and a 49 on the double holes, both scores coming on excellent very long putts that left me short finishing putts. It was now time to find a campground and I found a decent one at Pioneer Campground where I took a nap, did my yoga and then went to the Robert Service campground to ride the bike trail into town. I crossed the Yukon and followed it up to the dam, watching the powerful rapids and the amazing torrent of water right below the dam where the entire Yukon comes out. Now I was ready for dinner and I decided to go to the Klondike salmon and rib place and the wild salmon was delicious as was the side of smoked salmon I ordered.

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