December 13, 2017

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Feline or Canine? How to Identify their Tracks

Canine and Feline tracks are probably the most confusing tracks you’ll find yet with just a little knowledge you can be an expert at identifying each.  Carefully studying the image below you should be able to pick out a few of the different features each animal track displays.

tracks canine feline

Looking at the feline track above you should notice the following;

  • There are no claws showing. Cats tracks seldom show claws since their claws are felineretractable. This is true for all cats including Mtn. Lions, Bobcat, Lynx and domestic cats
  • The heel pad of felines will show three lobes on the back edge and usually two lobes on the front edge. If you look closely it resembles an “M”.
  • The overall shape of the track is appears round or as wide as it is long.

 

Looking at the canine track you should notice;

  • Four distinct claw marks at the end of each toe.canine
  • The front of the heel pad has only one single lobe and the back edge of the heel pad has only two lobes.
  • The overall appearance of the track is rectangular.

 

 

If there are claw marks present then it’s a safe bet it’s a canine. However, there is one exception to that rule, Gray Fox. Gray Fox have semi- retractable claws so you’ll want to also check the number of lobes on the heel pad to be sure. The majority of the time though their claw marks will be present in their track.  The following measurements might help if you want to distinguish what species of canine or feline your trying to identify.

Felines

  • Domestic Cat –  1 to 1 1/2 inches long or wide
  • Bobcat –  2 inches long or wide
  • Lynx – 3 1/2 to 4 inches long or wide
  • Mtn. Lion – 3 to 4 1/2 inches long or wide

Canines

  • Gray Fox –  1 1/2 inches wide by 2 inches long
  • Red Fox –  1 3/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches long
  • Gray Wolf – 3 3/4 inches wide by up to 5 inches long
  • Coyote –  2 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches long
  • Domestic Dog –  Variable size from a small lap dog, 1 inch long to a full size St. Bernard that could measure up to 5 inches long.

In most parts of North America canine tracks will surely be the majority of tracks you’ll find. However, knowing the difference between feline and canine tracks and what to look for, you may just be in for a treat and discover Bobcat or if you’re really lucky a nice set of Mtn. Lion tracks.  Good luck and Happy Tracking!!

 

Alaska – August, 2011

Alaska! The trip of a lifetime and something I’ve been waiting over 30 years to experience is finally, almost, a reality. We’re down to 2 days left before our flight leaves, hopefully we make this one. Long story short, but this trip was planned to take place back in the end of June, a month and a half later and a few thousand dollars left to pay in hospital bills and we’re ready to give it another shot, knock wood…….. nothing happens!!!
I figured this morning that it would be nice to keep a diary of the trip day by day so I could relive it from time to time when the mood struck me. I’m far from neat with my penmanship. There have been so many instances where I can’t even make out my own hand writing on job estimates that I figured I may as well record all this as a blog post. I’ll be checking the business email anyway so it made sense and it’s far more enjoyable writing in here than on paper. Not to mention neater!
Any record of the trip wouldn’t be complete without a some pre-trip planning, so I’ll fill you in a little on that. Our flight lands in Anchorage around 5 pm on the 17th. We decided to spend the first night in a hotel and then pick up the RV we’ll be spending the next two weeks in on the 18th. After checking hotel prices I feel a lot more comfortable that we decided to rent the RV. A decent 2 1/2 star hotel in Anchorage runs $200.00 a night and up! I imagine those prices will be fairly close state wide. The RV is around $161.00 per day with unlimited mileage. Most of the amenities like linens, cookware, generator etc is all inclusive. We’re using Clippership RV Rentals and they’ve been great so far with putting our trip off and rescheduling from back in June.  (See my review here) There are some extra charges for things like coolers or lawn chairs but you’re only looking at a small charge of 5 bucks each or so for those for the two weeks. We’ll be driving a 24 footer, more than enough room for 2 people. My only concern with the whole RV thing is that it has to go where we want to go. Meaning if we want to just explore a few side roads or go a few miles to a hiking spot we have to take the RV which may be a little cumbersome and some roads are off limits to RV’s. One of the pretty cool things I found out was that you can pull over on the side of the road anywhere there’s a pull off and spend the night.
I shipped a lot of stuff out ahead of us which turned out to be fairly expensive with UPS rates. You can ship directly to the RV rental site if they’ll agree to hold the packages for you. We shipped our camping supplies, extra boots, waders, fly rods, backpacks and what ever else we could think of, all in all a total of 4 boxes, about 100 pounds of gear. We also stuck in an extra tape gun and the return slips to ship the stuff back home. The oddest part of shipping everything by UPS is that it’s 80% more cost to ship it there than it is to ship it back. One shipment of 2 boxes was $180.00 going to AK and only $110.00 to ship the exact same box and contents back home. (I’m still arguing with UPS on that cause it makes no sense whatsoever.)
I had a few friends on Twitter recommend some places and stuff to get for the trip. One of those items was the MilePost. The MilePost has every foot of every road detailed inside it with every pull off, campground, store and fishing spot listed. It has to be the most detailed travel planner I’ve ever seen. In fact it has so much in it I quickly got overwhelmed and only used it to plan part of the trip. I only stopped using it because I don’t want to maintain a perfect schedule and be tied to being at this spot at this time. That’s not me, I’m way too spontaneous to keep a schedule. We’ll absolutely be referring to the MilePost along the way though for what’s ahead or where we want to camp for the night. All in all it’s a great tool to reference, if you ever plan on an Alaskan trip, make sure you get a copy.
Once we pick the RV up and get some shopping done we’ll be heading first toward Denali. This is the only part of the trip that had to be kept on a schedule. You can’t get into a campground inside Denali without a reservation and I definitely wanted to stay inside the park. We’ll be spending two or three nights at the Savage River Campground. I reserved it for 3 just in case we wanted to spend the extra day there. After Denali we’ll be heading across the Denali Highway and then down to Valdez and finally end up at Kenai where the majority of our time will most likely be spent. We’ll be stopping and exploring the entire way. You can bet if I see a river with muddy banks I’ll be jumping out to look for Caribou, Moose and Grizzly Tracks. After all as far as the IRS is concerned this is strictly a business trip to get more content for the apps. You gotta take advantage of those write offs when they present themselves.
That’s pretty much it without boring you to death with details. With any luck the next entry will be from Anchorage, AK. Just a little advice before I leave to pack, if your thinking to yourself, “I always wanted to go there”, just do it!! If I waited until I the perfect time, I’d still be waiting. You only live once and I’m not getting any younger. In the end life’s about the memories, so go make some!!
Enjoy the Outdoors!!
Day 1 & 2 – Getting Started
Day 1,
Today was just travel time jumping from flight to flight to get here. We arrived in Anchorage around 5 pm and checked in to our hotel for the night, explored a little bit of downtown and had a nice meal at the Glacier Brew Pub. I was surprised at the amount of what appeared to be homeless people in the downtown area. Most of the people we’ve run into have been pretty friendly. Really nothing spectacular for the day except flying over the Rockies which had some pretty awesome sights that I would have loved to experience up close and personal.
Day 2,
Just a little too excited to get started and got up at 4 in the morning. Only about 4 and a half hours sleep for me. Day 2 which started off with so much excitement about what was ahead turned out to be a total drag. We had requested to pick up the RV early in the morning so I called as soon as they opened at 8 am for their shuttle service. The girl on the phone said she would give me a call when they were ready with our vehicle. That didn’t seem too bad as it allowed me some time on the phone with Verizon to figure out why my Mobile Hotspot wasn’t working. I was going to be relying on that to keep this blog and keep tabs on the business using the laptop which would pull a wifi signal off the iPhone…. guess what?? no Verizon signal in AK, another let down. If you ever met me you’d know how impatient I am. It wasn’t until 1 pm that the call came in from the RV place. At least we were finally going to be getting underway so I brushed off the disappointment from waiting for more than 5 hours. From here on out I don’t want to make this blog about bashing a business but…. what a disappointment and total waste of our day. We waited until 5 pm until they had the RV ready and low and behold it wasn’t the nice compact 24 footer I reserved but a 29 footer. I was pissed, my whole day was gone and there was no way my wife was going to drive a 29 foot RV around Alaska. I wasn’t too keen on the idea either, not just because of the size but the whole fuel consumption as well. It was way bigger than I wanted or needed. I made a phone call to another rental place but bottom line…. here I am sitting on the side of the road at mile marker 85.3 in a 29 foot RV writing my journal. To sum up my Clippership RV Rental experience click here. At least we were finally moving and managed after a wrong turn or two to get to a FredMeyers store. Impressive store. They had everything you could think of and more. We finished up grocery shopping around 7 pm and finally headed toward Denali. I was surprised at the amount of traffic going in and out on Highway 1. Our first stop was at the Palmer Hay Flats Refuge. There’s a nice mountain range there and it looks down at Reflection Lake where we parked and went for a short hike just to get out and finally get our boots wet (Did I mention it was raining?). We didn’t go any more than a half mile but it was nice to walk in the woods. One of the things I did find out is Alaskan Mosquitoes don’t fly around your head a few minutes before they decide to bite, they go straight for the kill. It was tough taking any decent pics of the mountains with no repellent on. We pulled over for the night as I mentioned earlier at mile marker 85.3, the only other vehicle here belongs to the Jerky Man. We’ll probably sample his wares before we pull out and head to Denali in the morning. Here’s hoping Day 3 goes a hell of a lot better than yesterday. The Smoked Salmon was incredible!

Day 3- Road to Denali
Day 3 turned out to be way, way better than the previous two. After breakfast we didn’t get too far up the road before we decided to stop at the Montana Creek State Recreation Site about 10 miles into our day. First time parking the RV into a slightly tight spot wasn’t too bad. There was a pretty worn trail to the creek which was a lot more like a river. We cut on and off the trail checking the creek several times to see if we could spot any fish. We didn’t get too far when we spotted a dozen or more salmon just off the bank, Chum and Pink Salmon or Humpies as their called. That was the moment and one of the things I wanted to see my entire life up till today…. a salmon run. It was awesome to watch them head upstream, some molted because they already had spawned. Some were a good 24 inches!! We decided after watching them awhile to head back and just get the small spinning rod I’d brought. We’d be able to flyfish later in the week since we still had quite a ways to go to Denali. I tried a small spinner but didn’t get any takers. I was kind of stuck in the faster current since there were two guys fishing downstream where the water was a tad slower and where we had spotted most of the salmon earlier. My wife spotted some moose scat in the alders on the river bank and we got a few shots of that. That creek was a beautiful spot and I would have loved to spend more time there with the flyrods.
Not too much further up the road we made a side trip to Talkeetna which is a pretty small tourist town. We looked in a few shops and took the short hike to the river but all in all neither of us were that blown over by the experience. I’m glad we stopped just to say we did but I would skip it next time around if there ever is one. It wasn’t far from Talkeetna that we started getting some incredible views of the Denali Range and we kept stopping to get some pictures. The scenery was amazing! That’s why I hate schedules. If we didn’t have a set time to get to Denali then I would’ve spent 3 or 4 more hours enjoying the scenery along the way. We expected to see a moose or caribou at any moment but (and I can’t believe I’m saying this…), we didn’t see one animal other than one red squirrel along the way. We made it to the park at around 6:30 pm and to our campsite at Savage River about 7:30 pm. Another tight parking spot to get in but we managed. Took a walk down to the river after dinner and saw a beautiful sunset with simply amazing colors.
We crossed paths with the largest mammals we saw yet, 2 Snowshoe Hare!! Tomorrow we have a pretty early day. We meet the shuttle for a ride deeper into the park at 6:45 a.m. We should be getting off a few places along the route to do some exploring. That will be the last time on this trip that I HAVE to be somewhere at a set time and date. Once tomorrow’s over then the rest of the trip there’s no hurry and I can stop and go as I please without worry of getting from A to B on time. On a scale of 10, today was an 8.

Day 4, Wonder Lake
I woke up this morning 2 minutes before the alarm went off. Nice to say I have the excitement back that I lost a few days back. We hopped on the shuttle at the Savage Creek Campground to head into Wonder Lake. Wonder Lake is the furthest you can go into Denali by the Park Shuttle Bus system. You can get on and off at any time and just hop on the next bus if there’s room. A few miles past the Sanctuary River bridge we saw the first Caribou of the day. One was a fairly good sized male and the other a female. One thing about the shuttle buses, they don’t make for a good steady pic with a telephoto lens. I got one somewhat decent pic of the male but that was it.
We left the bus at the Teklanika River stop and decided to hike the river bed for a couple miles. It looked like a great place to find some tracks… we weren’t disappointed!!! It was a little steep getting down to the river but managed without any slips or falls. One of the coolest things about being on the tundra is the moss and lichens on the ground. Each step you take you sink in about 3 inches. Kinda like walking on cotton. As soon as we got down to the water we started finding Caribou and Moose tracks. We crossed the river a couple of times to check out other promising looking sandbars or simply because the river bank was too steep to continue on that side. The rivers here are incredible! The river beds themselves are extremely wide and there are just fingers of water that make separate channels that are constantly changing over the years. You can literally walk straight across the river bed and cross 4 or more channels of water with sandbars in between, a haven for discovering animal sign. We brought along a pair of beach shoes to change into for crossing the water, much better than sneakers as they weigh nothing and it was a smart move. I used sneakers to do that in Yellowstone a couple years back but the extra weight once they get wet is really unwelcome. If you never stepped in glacier fed waters you’re in for a treat, it was way, way cold. One of the bus drivers mentioned later that the glacier fed rivers are a whopping 39 degrees!! About a mile down the river we came across our first bear track. A front print only and not a very big one, but a Grizzly track nonetheless. We followed the line of travel it was heading and could pick up a few spots here and there where it had left sign. About 100 yards from the first track we found a perfect set of adult tracks on a sandbar. Turned out to be a sow with her cub which accounted for the smaller first track we found. Eighty five percent of the river beds are small gravel with some mud flats and sandbars mixed in. The muddy spots are like Christmas to me cause you never know what their going to hold. We found other tracks throughout the hike like Red Fox and Grey Wolf. It was a great start to the day and it was still only 8am!
We caught a bus on the side of the road about 2 miles from where we started. I think we were on that for maybe 30 minutes when we spotted a Grizzly on the left hand side of the road. Again too shaky on the bus and the driver didn’t really want to hang around too long for pics. The bear kept going in and out of sight behind the scrub brush so getting focused every time with the bus shaking and holding the lens steady was nearly impossible. I would love one of those $5,000.00 Cannon lenses but the $800 Tameron I picked up was all I could swing. It takes a good pic but like anything that big you need to be on a tripod and still I can’t reach way out there to get the animal either. Not being able to reach out there proved itself when we jumped off the bus a few minutes down the road to watch five Dall Sheep making their way across the side of a ridge. Way too far for the lens to get a good shot. They had to be at least 3/4 of a mile if not more away from us. I wasn’t so disappointed in that because we walked the road waiting for another bus and found an awesome set of Grizzly tracks following the shoulder. Our goal was to hike down to the riverbank and check that one out. It was huge but it was also a good 400 feet below us and neither one of use wanted to make the climb out later
on. We could see that the road stayed high for several miles ahead of us and both of us wanted to get back in time to shower and charge our batteries. You can only run the generator at certain times in the campground and 8 pm was the cutoff time and we still had a 2 and a half to three hour drive out by bus. We never made it to Wonder Lake, Eielson was the furthest we had time for. Mt. McKinley wasn’t visible at all, a little disappointment there but from what I understand, it rarely is visible. We could clearly see the smaller peaks at 8,000 or 12,000 feet but not the 20,000 foot plus peak of Mt. McKinley. Just way too much cloud cover. Still, the other peaks were stunning with what sunlight did make it through the clouds lighting up the snowy peaks. Just an incredible vista and I had trouble making myself stop taking pics. We managed a few wildflower ID’s and some pics of the Arctic Ground Squirrels that reside at Eielson. They were fun to watch.
We made sure to get the right hand side of the bus for the trip back out. Wow!!!! If you don’t like heights make sure you stay on the left side going out and the right side going in. Sheer drop offs of 300 to 500 feet make for a little hairy ride, especially when the bus is so close to the edge that you cant see any road when you look out the window. There were a few times even I got the willies!!
The ride out we saw more wildlife than on the way in and that made sense since it was evening. We saw a Grizzly Sow and her cub, a Red Fox, the butt end of a Moose although my wife says she did see an antler and we spotted a Harrier and two Golden Eagles! After a nice hot shower (the first in three days, ewwwww!!), we had an awesome dinner of steak and potatoes cooked on the fire and a nice bottle of champagne to toast the day. This RV camping is really the way to go. There are a couple of birds that hang out here, some kind of Jay is my guess. They are quite the thieves with an abundance of stealth. You would never know they’re there. One minute you have a stick of butter on the bench and the next it’s gone. I found him a short distance away indulging himself. I don’t think he was too happy I took his prize away.
At 9pm I scoped out the river behind the campground for a hike tomorrow, that looks promising as there is moose scat and sign everywhere in the willows that sporadically line the river bed. With any luck we’ll get a glimpse of one or maybe two of the caribou that should be migrating through on their way to Mt. McKinley.

Day 5 – The Savage River
Today was spent walking the Savage River which is another glacier fed waterway in Denali. The Savage has perfect sandbars and mudflats to explore. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of a moose or caribou on the rivers edge. We were going to walk what I figured out to be about three miles up river. We actually went down to the river which is only a 10 minute walk from our RV site and went about one half mile staying on the river bank only to decide to head back to camp and change into our waders. That turned out to be a smart decision as we ended up crossing the river from bank to bank at least 30 times if not more before the days end.
I mentioned it was a smart decision for a reason, because at the end of the day I made a terrible decision that is going to cost me big in the end, more on that later. Why spoil the good mood I’m in!!
We didn’t spot any animals today on the hike but we found perfect tracks as well as scat of Gray Wolf, Caribou, Moose and Grizzly Bears…. a lot of Grizzly Bears! We didn’t just find a random track either but perfect gait patterns of each and an exceptionally good example of a Grizzly lope. Funny I never get tired of finding tracks, some kind of fetish I guess, I should probably make an appointment to talk to someone about it when I return home.

Grizzly Lope

Caribou

Honest to God though, every turn in the river you find something new and as much as my wife may want to turn around after a 3 mile hike in waders, I kept telling her “just after the next bend we’ll turn back”. Of course 10 bends later I’m starting to feel a little guilty about lying so many times. We finally turned back after we started to see a lot more bear sign and the river was getting narrow. We weren’t on one of those wide river beds we started out on anymore but now just a narrow channel that snaked through the willows, spruce and scrub. With vision limited of what was ahead, bear scat and grizzly tracks everywhere we were getting a little anxious. Yes, that was making me nervous but what really gave my wife the advantage of turning back at this point were the two crows circling overhead. They were excited about something up ahead and they stayed right above whatever it was. Now, if your not the outdoor type you may not realize that crows overhead can tip you off to the presence of other animals either alive, dead or soon to be dead, so it’s best to pay attention to what the crows are telling you when your in bear country. The last thing we wanted to do was walk upon a carcass of some animal in the middle of a willow thicket. I should mention we did make a few discoveries as well on the way in. One spot we found a few bones, part of a leg and rib bone. Shortly after that my wife found part of a jaw bone. We now knew we had stumbled upon the remains of a herbivore. You can tell that by the teeth. Flat teeth are for browsing plants so this was either all that was left of a moose or a caribou, the only two herbivores in Denali that would have teeth this large. I should bring my wife more often because it wasn’t 3 minutes later while I was still checking out the jawbone that she found a few more fragments with some white hair. Turns out the white hair and the amount of it we found gave away the remains as that of a caribou. One one of our other jaunts into the willows and spruce my wife AGAIN (I was starting to get pissed at this point since she was finding everything) found animal remains. This was one of the oddest looking ones I have seen. There sticking out of the lichens nearly straight up was the foot of a snowshoe hare. Weird!! We found another leg about 25 yards away and several hides. All had been killed probably this past winter since they were fairly in tact and with their winter color. It was still an exciting walk back out as we found where a moose had just crossed our trail in.
A little further up my wife actually wanted to walk up Jenny Creek which dumps into the Savage River. What’s cool about the two is that Jenny Creek isn’t a glacier fed creek and it is crystal clear. A stark contrast when you see where it merges with the brown silty glacial water of the Savage. We did go about a half mile up Jenny Creek but my legs were starting to feel a little sore from the days hike so we headed back to camp. I would venture a guess as to maybe more like 8 miles for a round trip day of exploring. I had a great time….. soon to end!!! After somewhat of a late dinner of chicken and potatoes on the fire I headed back down to the river with my camera. I set up as high as I could so I could scan both up and down river as well as the surrounding tundra. The scenery and colors of the landscape are incredible. I wish I could be here in another week or so when all the fall colors are out. Right now there are reds, oranges and yellows that just paint the entire tundra.
About an hour into glassing the area I spotted two caribou fairly far off and they weren’t heading toward me but more parallel. Here’s where I made the stupid decision that would prove to be a total catastrophe. If I could ever take a moment in time back it would certainly be this one. I got the bright idea to cross the river and climb the far side, about 1/2 mile away. I figured I could do a fast walk and get there in maybe 10 minutes. Well the first obstacle was the river, I didn’t want to get my boots wet but there was just no narrow spot to get across. The light was fading and it was now or never before the caribou moved further away. I managed to cross the first channel fine and the second too but had to get wet on the third. The fourth crossing was where I realized it wasn’t such a great idea to leave the camera on the tripod. Who knew a camera with a 5 lb telephoto lens could float?? Shit…. I didn’t. My first thought as I saw it floating away was “that can’t be too good for that $800.00 dollar lens”. Ya know, I hate being right cause it wasn’t good. The camera is toast, that much I knew and it kind of gave it away when the shutter was going off in rapid succession when the camera was turned OFF!! I was more worried about the lens and the memory card. I took the card out immediately and I won’t know until I get home if it still works. If there is one great thing here it’s that the card I started the day out with was full and I had just put this one in about two thirds of the way back from earlier. I may have lost some images but not all the ones from yesterday and most of today. The lens you ask?? It’s useless, I can see water inside it. I’m not sure if that is something I can get fixed on our return home or not. (Post note…. the card works, here’s the last pic it took, if you look really hard you can see the Caribou in there.)
Of course, all this means a side trip now for Day 6. It looks like were heading to Fairbanks which wasn’t on the list but it’s only 125 miles from Denali and there’ll be a Walmart or FredMeyers where I should be able to pick up another camera. I just may be out a lens that can bring anything in closer for the rest of the trip but I certainly can’t go without a camera. This is making me rethink kayaking on the Kenai Peninsula later in the week with any photo equipment for sure. My camera which has served me well over the past 5 or 6 years is (was) a Cannon Rebel XT. It was around $350.00. Not top of the line by any means but I’ll miss it dearly! We went on a lot of adventures together. It would probably be fitting to bring it down near the river and give it a proper burial somewhere in the willows. Have you ever thought to yourself this is where I was meant to be in life? Well this is one of those spots for me and maybe leaving my camera behind is a fitting tribute not just to the only friend I had on so many adventures but to myself as well. As long as I can close my eyes at night and see that spot I buried it in my mind and wonder how many moose stood on it’s grave, how many grizzlies passed it by, I will forever in a way, still be here!!

Day 6 – Funeral Services.
Wow!! Does it get cold in Denali at night? It must have been down to the mid to high 30’s and we froze our butts off in the RV. The batteries in this thing don’t stay charged for any length of time so there was no running the furnace for a little warmth. They only give you two paper thin blankets to sleep with which didn’t help much either. I think it was colder in this thing than it was outside. I pretty much had a sleepless night with the cold and the camera incident playing over in my head. Kind of odd how sentimental you get when you get older. I’m pretty sure I was getting choked up while I stripped down the camera to get it ready for it’s final resting place.
A butter knife served well as a stand in for a shovel and I was actually surprised how loose the soil was after you got past the few inches of gravel on the surface. I managed about an 8 or 10 inch deep hole and placed the lifeless body carefully inside. A few handfuls of dirt was all it took and it was safely in it’s resting place for eternity.
I made up a little marker and placed it upside down so no wandering eyes would find it. I honestly find comfort in the though that as I write this on the night of August 22, 2011 and for every time there after I think of it,  my old camera, even though broken and buried will forever be putting images in my mind of the place that it now calls home. One of the most beautiful pictures it’s ever given me!
The rest of the 6th day was pretty uneventful. We headed to Fairbanks to find another Cannon. It was closer than Wassila, useless fact number 46: Wassila has the largest Walmart in Alaska. I was headed to FredMeyers anyway I would rather give them my business but Mr. Meyers didn’t have a Cannon SLR in stock so we ended up at the Walmart in Fairbanks anyway. They only had a Cannon Rebel T3, nice camera and I’m hoping it serves me as well as the last. With the two flash cards all totaled it was about $700.00 I wasn’t expecting to spend. The ride back from Fairbanks to the Denali Highway had a few nice view points and we did see our first moose of the trip. Sadly this one didn’t make it across the road. I didn’t see it earlier when I drove by here. Turned out it had been dead for at least a day but no more than that. Today was a fairly warm day and her stomach was pretty bloated, the crows and ravens had already found her as evidenced by her missing eyes. Other than the eyes being gone there was no real damage to the body that I could see, at least not from the side that was exposed. We had intermittent rain showers most of the way to Fairbanks and back. I don’t know what it is about Alaska but everything looks so much better, even the rainbows seemed bigger and more brilliant here.
It was a pretty long day of driving and we just made it to the Cantwell RV Park before they closed at 10 pm. They’re located right on the Denali Highway, the route we plan to take to get to Valdez. From what I understand it’s not a well maintained road, gravel for most of it. In fact the rental place we picked up the RV prohibits its use on the Denali Highway. It should be a total of 5 or 6 hours to travel that road and we may split it up and do it in two days time. There are quite a few places to fish and we’ll be keeping an eye out for animals as well along the way. I’m looking forward to another day of exploring but still I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for good luck………..we definitely need some of that!!

Day 7 – The Denali Highway
We hung around the Cantwell RV Park for a couple hours this morning. It was a nice spot since they had laundry facilities and my wife wanted a real shower. I can’t blame her, there aren’t too many women I know of that would go through as much as I expect her to. How many women do you really know that are going to hike 6 to 8 miles in waders looking for animal tracks? At least staying the night in the RV park we got to hook up to their power and had heat all night long. In fact I believe the thermostat is broke or there’s a bad thermocouple on the burner because it ran all night at max heat…75 degrees!! So much for needing that extra blanket we bought in Fairbanks. There were some beautiful Arctic Poppies all over this area that once again, my wife spotted.
9:58 pm
Such a feeling, I’m sitting next to the Brushkana Creek, it’s literally 20 feet away from the RV and I’m between the two next to the fire. It’s 10 at night and it’s still light out, does life get any better than this? We only made it 31 miles onto the Denali Highway before we found this place and decided to spend the rest of the day here. The Denali Highway so far is fairly rough (probably why the rv rental site prohibits driving on this road….. I guess they shouldn’t have wasted my entire first day!! At some points 10 mph was the fastest I could go so that 30 miles took awhile to do. Saw an eagle after about 2 miles into the day. That’s the first eagle we’ve seen but hopefully not the last. Kenai is supposed to be loaded with eagles. The highway showed us some incredible views, the kind you could sit all day and admire, scanning every inch, soaking in the awe of it all, hard to drive away from those places, but we had to move on.
We got a few more miles up the road when we came upon Brushkana Creek Campground. The road into it looked inviting so we turned in to check it out. The campground itself sits back from the main road quite a bit. Some of the sites are right on the river, any closer and you would need a swim suit. When we saw this one site was empty, site #4 (actually most were) and checked the Milepost that said it was great fishing for Graylings we decided to stay. We hiked up the Brushkana Creek trail which follows the creek for over 2 miles. At about the three quarter mile mark we cut our way across the forest to get back out to the creek, a lot of spruce and low bush blueberries everywhere.
The plan was to fish the creek back up to our campsite, still moose and grizzly sign everywhere. The one thing I found about hiking here is that you make little if any noise. The ground cover is just inches of moss and lichens that cushion every step. The trail had gained about 200 feet in elevation from where it started and we were now above the creek. It was a gorgeous sight looking down from the ridge at it and I couldn’t wait to get in the water. Finally… flyfishing in Alaska!!! Even though I suck at it I was still doing it. It didn’t bother me one bit that I wasn’t getting any hits, just the fact I was on the water, a gorgeous view, no…. make that a breath taking view and a smile from ear to ear… I was in heaven. Nothing could have been better than that moment!!!
The only thing that makes it even better is sitting here in the dark reliving it as I type ( it’s 10:40 pm now). When I look up from the keyboard I see the silhouettes of spruce against a cloudy dark gray sky, there’s a light drizzle falling, I hear can the creek rambling by, a glass of wine and a warm fire, my life is complete. You would have thought I learned my lesson with electronics and water and not be sitting here with my laptop but this is once in a lifetime. How often will I ever get to sit next to a river in Alaska in the dark of night by a fire and capture my thoughts on a laptop? To sum today up, it was fantastic. It doesn’t matter to me if I catch a fish, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The biggest reason I enjoy this flyfishing thing is because it’s slow. You have to take your time. It takes me 30 minutes just to get the line through the eyelet on the hook and that’s with 2x glasses!!. That 30 minutes keeps me still in one spot. That 30 minutes I’m standing there I get tuned into the sounds and sights of that one small area I’m in, I see birds nesting in the brush I would normally miss, I don’t just hear the crickets, I hear each cricket. I don’t just see the trees I see each tree, individually. I think your getting the picture…………. It’s not about catching a fish at all, it’s about the journey there that matters most!

Day 8 – Are We There Yet???
You’ll never really appreciate a paved road until you drive the Denali Highway in an RV. We had another 100 miles to go when we left the Brushkana Creek site. It got to the point where I regretted the decision to come down it. We weren’t seeing any caribou or moose, nothing, not even a squirrel! After maybe 30 miles and being vibrated to death we pulled over. There was a small kettle lake I wanted to hike down to, maybe a half mile from the road, nothing too far cause we didn’t want to spend another long day on this road. Kettle lakes were formed by glaciers and they dot the landscape. The one I was heading to had quite a bit of shoreline around it and it looked inviting. Sure enough it was littered with tracks. A bald eagle caught my eye as it took off from the brush on a knoll just above the lake. As soon as he took of I could hear the crows coming in. All this told me something was dead in the brush somewhere so I proceeded with caution, it was still bear country. I came across the remains of a caribou. The head anyway. This one had been capped out and the skull plate removed. Caribou season just opened here and we saw quite a few hunters parked along the road. I figured the gut pile and the rest of the hide and remains if they quartered it were somewhere up ahead. I didn’t need to find anymore since the mystery of what the crows and eagle were after had been solved. While I was out, my wife did get a few shots of an Arctic Ground Squirrel that lived in the rock pile where we parked.
It wasn’t for miles and miles later that we saw our first caribou on the road. A few miles further and we saw a few more but they quickly disappeared before I could get a shot. One had a monster set of antlers on it. I hiked down into the brush to see if I could get sight of them again but to no avail. We also stopped at the summit of Mount Maclaren and walked about a mile down the ATV trail enjoying the sights of the valley down below. The Alpine Bearberry leaves put on a spectacular show of color. The leaves are just the deepest red and they paint the landscape as far as your eye can see. Mile marker 124.. Wohoooooo!!! We hit pavement. Wow, what a long drive for for such a short distance. The excitement was short lived as we launched off our first frost heave. I swear we caught air and the landing was nothing short of a heart attack. I needed to keep it under 30 going over those and the next 40 miles or so was littered with them. It was pretty much like riding the waves in a canoe. Our destination was a RV park in Glennallen and it was starting to get late. We were driving through prime moose habitat and were soon rewarded as a mother and calf stepped out of the spruce and then back in just as fast. I think I bruised her shoulder when I grabbed my wife by the coat to pull her over toward my window. A couple miles down the road we could both clearly see the large black spot of the right hand side. This cow had two calves with her and even though she disappeared back into the spruce they stayed on this cut trail for a good 5 minutes for us to admire them. We let them be and drove on.
It wasn’t until after 10 pm that we made it to the first RV site on the road and it was a long, long day of finger gripping driving. My wife even got a taste of it earlier in the day. She didn’t like the gravel road none to much either. This place had free wifi so we checked the emails we had been neglecting for the past several days and called it a night.

Day 9 – Glenn Highway
We left the Northern Lights RV Park in Glennallen around 8:30 am this morning and started down the Glenn Highway. Valdez was on the menu but I decided we wanted more time in Kenai so a quick change of plans was in order. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be back on black top. I’m not sure I would want to travel the Denali Highway again in an RV, maybe if I had a few more days where time spent driving slow didn’t matter. Then it wouldn’t be so much of an “Are we there yet?” ride. None of the route after Denali was planned ahead of time, a curse in some ways and a blessing in others. Today was definitely a blessing. We stopped numerous times to look at the views, hiked a creek bed and took a few wildflowers shots. We got a nice one of Rattlebox which was a pretty cool little flower.
I can honestly say that Alaska needs a better wildflower guide, I bought two before I came here, both by the same author and both suck. I’m surprised to hear that the rangers in Denali use it, at least that’s what the one in Eielson told me. If I had the time, money and images I’d do an app for Alaskan wildflowers.
One of the stops we made was a pull off that had an awesome view of the Nelchina Glacier. I found a nice little spot with some Fireweed that I wanted to get in the picture. Fireweed grows just about everywhere here and it’s definitely past it’s peak season.
I must have spent over an hour there trying to get the flower and the glacier both in focus and just couldn’t manage. I hated driving away from that spot knowing I didn’t have the pic I wanted. I still need to learn way more about photography.
We didn’t drive to much further down the road when the Matanuska Glacier started coming in and out of view. What a sight! I mean sometimes you just can’t describe stuff. We found in the Milepost that there was a guide service that took you out on the glacier and since neither of us had ever walked on a glacier we decided Kenai could wait just a little while longer. So, we stopped there at the Mica Glacier Tours….. whooaaaaa!! What I had feared since the first minute I saw that 29 foot RV was happening. I had drove down a narrow, downhill road with a small parking lot full of cars, and now I had to get out!!! I fully admit I hate backing up and now I had to do it in this monster, between two cars nonetheless and on a downhill grade to boot!! Guess what??? We made it out alive and it turned out for the best that we couldn’t get the guided tour for 2 more hours. We found out again from the trusty Milepost that there was a place called Glacier Park just a 1/2 mile down the road. It turned out to be perfect, funny how fate just shows up sometimes.
This place was by far better as we could do a self guided tour, right up my alley. I’ll have to admit I was getting tired trying to keep up with my wife who was more excited than a kid at Christmas. All she wanted to do was get out on the glacier and she was going a mile a minute. That was the coolest thing. I never knew glaciers were mostly covered in silt and gravel. You could scuff away the dirt and rocks and see pure clear ice, ice clearer than glass. It was an awesome feeling to rub your fingers on something thousands of years old. We both enjoyed collecting our own small rocks from the glacier as a keepsake. Yes….. we even took a drink from one of the streams running along the surface. Unlike the full guided tours that don’t go to the headwater of the river, we did. There was no way I was going to miss seeing where a river was born. We hiked around the front of the glacier and headed down to the water. What a view of at the base of the glacier, it was truly an amazing place. We looked at the silt, felt the mud and collected more small rocks just like two kids on a treasure hunt!
On the way out I looped around closer to the edge of the river and found a perfect set of grizzly tracks. This glacial silt is fantastic for leaving crystal clear prints. We found moose, yearling moose, fox, grey wolf and a pretty good sized front print of a grizzly.

Grizzly

Wolf

Moose

We took an extra hour of time and made a short film on the “how to’s” of plaster casting. My first glacial cast wasn’t drying very quickly so I ended up digging around the whole cast and tunneling under the track keeping about 2 inches of silt on the bottom of the cast so it wouldn’t crack. We let it dry in the RV in front of the heater once we got back out to the pavement. We spent about 5 hours at the glacier all totaled and worth every second if you ask me. I don’t think my wife would disagree either.
We drove down the road trying to make Anchorage at least but it was getting late. We saw a sign for the King Mountain Recreation Area and pulled in to check that out, I was getting kinda tired anyway. I parked the RV on the north side of the road and we crossed over to take a look to see if we could get the RV to the campsites along the river. WOW!!! I can’t be amazed enough here. There was not one single person riverside here, we had a choice of which spot we want and I think we took the best. Again another night right on the bank of the water…… just awesome!!! Can you believe it gets even better?
I had a good cooking fire going and just put the steaks on when my wife thought she saw an eagle land directly across the river from us. Sure enough she saw an eagle, then another, then another, then another, all totalled there were 6 eagles sitting on the rocks 100 yards from us.
What a sight, a very wild sight, it made the day that much more perfect. Another night of blogging by the river under the stars with a warm fire going… Oh!! Let’s not forget the wine and s’mores. Quick someone pinch me, I think I’m dreaming!!

Day 10 – To the Kenai Pennisula
Pretty much an uneventful day of traveling as compared with the previous one. We had a fair distance to go from our last campsite on the confluence the King and Matanuska Rivers. We decided to take a look at the Muskox Farm in Palmer. A guided tour. I mentioned I hated guided tours didn’t I? They’re pretty much time killers. We left 3/4 of the way through it as there was a group of much older women who were very content to ask as many questions to the tour guide that they could think up. Never mind that one of the other women asked the exact same question 5 minutes before and another 5 minutes before that. Lesson # 147, never go on a tour with older, early staged Alzheimer candidates.
We didn’t do any stop and view spots I wanted to get onto Kenai. The downfall was seeing a Best Buy on our way back through Anchorage. I still had a certain lens on my mind. Somewhat reluctantly I stopped. This store had nothing for telephotos but the salesman assured me that their flag store across town had what I wanted. So across town we went and wouldn’t you know it? They didn’t have squat for lenses either. Why didn’t I think to have that first guy call? I took him for his word that he was knowledgeable on the matter and it turned out he didn’t know squat!. All in all I pretty much single handedly wasted almost 2 hours of the day right there. I decided at that moment that fate didn’t want me to have a telephoto lens in my life for some reason, at least not on this trip.
Not far out of Anchorage you come upon Beluga Point. This is a beautiful spot and we stayed there for easily over an hour watching beluga whales. Their backs would just breach the water surface and we would sometimes see 3 or 4 belugas swimming together. The Seward Highway which we were on has some beautiful scenery, stunning hanging glaciers and alpine meadows. We missed the turn off to the Alaska Wildlife Center and took a left toward Whittier to turn around. About a mile or so down the road was a incredible waterfall coming off the mountain. The spot we found to turn around was a state day use area so we parked there and went for a really short walk and a couple of pictures. We were able to view the waterfall a little better from the trail we were walking.
The Alaska Wildlife Center was OK, but not something I would jump into again. They did have all the large mammals of Alaska and some smaller ones. To see them up close and personal was cool but I never was one for seeing animals penned in no matter how large the enclosure is and they have some very large enclosures. The place is also a recovery center for injured animals and in those instances I’m 100% in favor.
Leaving there we stopped at two state run rec areas but neither had a great spot for the night. I’ve been pretty much spoiled by the other two spots we stayed which were right on the water. We made a decision to stay at the third place we came to no matter what the sites looked like, it was getting toward 9 pm at this point. We pulled into the Tenderfoot state run camping area and found site #14 empty….. nothing special just a place to stay. A quick dinner of ham steak, sweet sausage and baked potatoes and it was time to get some sleep. Those long days of driving tire me out much more than a day of hiking does.

Day 11 – The Russian River
We got a fairly early start this morning. Nothing special at all about our campsite last night other than it was overpriced compared to the other State sites we’ve been to. The plan for today was to head down the Sterling Highway toward Kenai and stop at the first RV park that had laundry. Turns out the was the Princess RV Park at mile marker 48, another fate thing in the making. It wasn’t until we saw mile marker 52 that we realized we passed the place by 4 miles. We turned back to find it and I’m damn glad we did. The lady at the counter told me if I wanted to see salmon that I should hike into the Russian Falls. The trail head happened to be in the Russian River Campground, another state run site. Once the laundry was done that’s where we headed. Don’t tell the RV rental place but they had a really tight turn in this campground, that BAD FATE came back briefly as I cut the corner a little sharp and scraped the back corner of the RV on a building overhang. It was minor (I hope) just a piece of aluminum corner bead came off. I’m thinking I can pound out the kinks tomorrow with the hatchet and bang the screws back in. Depending on how good it looks I may just play stupid when we bring it back. (Post note: banging on that aluminum trim with the blunt end of the hatchet didn’t fool anyone. Cost to replace the trim $175.00, laughter shared from beating on a $70,000.00 RV with a hatchet…… Priceless!!)  After we found a site in the campground and got our gear and packs loaded we headed off on the 2.3 mile hike to the falls. There are quite a few people that visit these falls for the salmon run and there were several people that registered before us so any chance of just being alone was out the window. Once at the falls ………… OH my God!!! You see this stuff on Nat Geo or something but to see it firsthand is no comparison. There were literally 1,000’s of fish waiting to run the falls. It’s an amazing sight. We got right down to an rock outcrop on the edge and sat and watched the salmon.
These were Chinooks and their deep reddish orange bodies are just beautiful. You can actually pick out one fish and follow his journey through a series of small falls or rapids and it’s a heart breaker to see one get up a few sections only to tire out and be swept back down river to where it started.
Watching them jump a higher set of falls is amazing and I can’t get over how what powerful swimmers they are. We left the falls after about 2 hours of pure enjoyment.  My wife’s back started bothering her so we didn’t fish down river at all like we had planned. Once we got her back to the RV to relax I would fish the river below our site. I’m pretty green at salmon fishing and still a novice at flyfishing so I don’t know much. I tied a rig up that the flyshop up the road suggested. It was really awkward casting that, nothing that I was used to as there was a lot of weight on the line and it was distributed over a 6 foot section. My attempts to cast were pretty ugly so I was glad I was alone. Little did I know that this rig was for trout and not salmon. I found out later in the evening that the trout hang out just behind the salmon eating the eggs and that’s what my rig was for, Rainbows! Now I know why it didn’t make sense to me earlier about fishing for salmon with a salmon egg!! Catching a salmon is more like snagging one and this happened several times. I never landed one but it was a blast having them on the line. When they ran with the line, they ran hard. It’s incredible the strength they have. You couldn’t budge them out of the current.
Wading in the water is an experience in itself as salmon knock your legs, swim between them or you get a dead one that washes down stream and gets hung up on you boot. I had about a 10 pound fish on my right foot I couldn’t shake free, unreal!! Being alone on the river was nice, not a soul in sight. I was constantly looking up and down the banks for bears. This one Chinook had really got caught in my fly line and when he ran he snapped the tippet, the back lash caused quite a mess. As I was trying to work the knotted mess I spotted a grizzly no more than 100 yards from me. A few seconds later it was joined by two cubs, what a sight and what to do?
I was a little nervous at first since this was my first encounter with a grizzly and the fact it had cubs made it more dangerous. I backed off, she watched me, I backed off more and she watched me more. The cubs didn’t seem to care. Once I felt at a safe distance, at least one I could get the bear spray out before she reached me, I watched them fish for a good half hour. How many times can you say amazing in one hour or one day? They crossed the river and disappeared in the brush right where I had entered the river. Now I was getting a little uneasy, since I couldn’t see them any longer I got off the river and headed back to camp but what a treat that was.
I went back down about 30 minutes later and there were three people flyfishing right where I had last seen the bears. They hadn’t spotted any so I went upstream no more than 30 yards and there they were around the corner. One of the women flyishing came up to where I now was to get a better look and together we crossed the river on the opposite side of the sow and cubs and watched them until they disappeared again in the brush. This time they disappeared on the side her two friends were fishing. Several minutes later they came out closer, much closer, only about 30 feet away with the cubs in the lead. All four of us now made a hasty retreat to give them some space, I managed to get some pretty close up shots as I was backing off. Again I got to watch them fish for about an hour and that just completed this entire trip for me. Today turned out to be a blast and we might hang around here a little bit in the morning so I can try my hand on the river again. Hopefully my wife’s back loosens up during the night so she can fish too or at least get down to the water. I’m sure the bears won’t be far off since the salmon are here. I’d love for her to get a glimpse herself. Today was indeed, a great day!!
Day 12- Kenai to Seward
We started the day off with a quick trip back down the trail to the river. I wanted another chance at catching a Rainbow and most importantly seeing if my wife could get a glimpse of the sow and her two cubs. I don’t think I had my line in more than 20 minutes when my wife said “Bear”. About 50 yards down stream a single grizzly came out to fish leaving me to think this was a different bear. It wasn’t until several minutes later that the cubs joined their mother that I knew it was the same big female as the night before. She was much more weary this morning as she huffed several times at us. We backed off immediately and she relaxed a little more. I wasn’t going to get cut off from the trail so we hurried back down river to get below the bears, which turned out to be a smart choice because they immediately crossed the river just as we got by them. I got several more pics of the three before they again disappeared on our side.
Since we couldn’t see them anymore it was time to go but I was more than happy my wife got to experience the whole thing. We packed up camp and headed toward Kenai with no certain plans other than to see the place.
I pretty much figured that was the last chance I had to fish for the rest of the trip. We got no more than several miles ahead when we came to the USFS information building for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. A short talk with the cute ranger and we decided to take the Skilak Loop. Wow, you talk about a dusty road, you haven’t seen dusty till you drive the Skilak road. This is a 18 mile road that cut through the refuge and looped back out to the Sterling Highway. About halfway down the road we came to the trail to Ohmer Lake, 3/10ths of a mile long. Since it was a short hike my wife thought she could handle it. Her back was a little better from the previous days hike to the Russian Falls. The trail was so short that I actually jogged it back out to get of all things including my flyrod and jogged back in. It’s another world here in AK than it is in the Adirondacks. The USFS (they must have an incredible budget) maintains a cabin on the lake, a totally gorgeous place. I never knew they had cabins you could rent. This place was $45.00 per night and anyone can rent it. They even had a rowboat for public use. So here we were in Alaska, back on a lake with a boat to use and no one else around. Now you know why I jogged out for my flyrod. We paddled around for about an hour enjoying the scenery and wetting a line. Still no trout I was getting a bit discouraged. I remembered saying a few days back, it was about the journey there. Well…. it is but it would still be nice just once and awhile to get a fish along the way. We met a couple older women on the way out, turns out they had rented the cabin for the next three days and were just arriving. From what I gathered it’s like a 6 month waiting list as this is the most popular cabin in this part of Alaska. I have been really impressed with the job the USFS does maintaining campgrounds, trails, interpretive sites. For a federal agency they do an amazing job. We continued down the road to Kenai, poor planning on my part because there just didn’t seem to be much there. We checked out the beach and pretty much headed back from there. I know I must have missed a lot, it was just one of those days I guess.
We did spot a cow Moose on the side of the road and her calf on the other.
Back on the Seward Highway we saw some incredible sights. I can’t get over the scenery here, it’s just breath taking.
Our destination for the night was the Ptarmigan Campground another USFS run site. I was hooked on the riverside spots now and since they didn’t have any we decided to stay closer to Seward so the morning drive into town would be a quick one. We wanted to take one of the Kenai Fjord tours so the closer we got to Seward the better. Tonights stay over would be at the Stoney Creek RV Park. A nice place but I much prefer the USFS sites, just a lot more privacy with a lot more room. We passed tons of turnouts we could have stayed in but after the first night of staying at one and being awaken by the traffic or some a–hole blowing their horn on the way by, they just didn’t hold any allure to me.

Day 13 – Kenai Fjord Tour
I’ve always had a thing for whales. Of all the whale watch tours I’ve been on over the years I still haven’t seen anything other than a back here or there slightly crest out of the water. Today seemed promising as we were taking a tour boat out to the Kenai Fjords National Park, a whale sighting looked like a definite possibility. This was a 6 hour tour, double that of what Gilligan and the Skipper went on so many years ago. Once you get out into the Fjords it’s amazing. I sound like a broken record but the scenery is unreal. For every foot the boat went, there was a different view of another spectacular island or peninsula jutting out into the water.
We passed Stellar Sea Lions sunning on the rocks. Hundreds of Puffins, flying, swimming, diving, they were everywhere. We saw Fin Whales, several Humpbacks but still not that full breach out of the water that I’ve been waiting for.
There were Dall Porpoises swimming along the bow. They look like little Killer Whales, black and white in color. There were 3 Orcas that swam right at the boat and then directly under the bow. That was a sight to remember.
The final destination was the Aliak Glacier…… Wow!!! Somehow “Wow” just doesn’t sum it up. One of the coolest parts of this tour was seeing and hearing the glacier. I never knew a glacier made so much noise, cracking, popping and groaning. There was a lot of calving going on, which is ice breaking off the face.
It’s a spectacular experience to see huge chunks of ice fall or slide down the face and hit the water. The following echo and the splash gives you goose bumps.
The ride back to Seward was just as spectacular with the views as it was on the way in. There were more whales, puffins, seals…. just an incredible day that I didn’t want to end and it wasn’t over yet. We headed back toward Anchorage since we had to return the RV in the morning. The plan was to check out the Ptarmigan Campground again for a site near the river. We had collected quite a bit of firewood and still had a few steaks to cook. We got the the site about 7 pm and I quickly got the fire going and threw on my waders. This was absolutely positively the last chance for trout fishing on the trip.
I was using that same rig they told me how to tie at the flyshop back at Cooper Landing on the Kenai. You tie your hook then place a salmon egg 2 inches up the tippet then 1 small split shot a foot higher and to finish it off, an indicator 5 to 6 foot further up on the leader. All this weight proved a little tough to cast the way I was used to and I hadn’t caught anything with it yet. Once I got on the creek I immediately got snagged, then snagged again and again. I finally took off everything and just retied a hook and salmon egg and nothing else. The water was just a little slower than the Russian which probably attributed to the snags. I started just using a roll cast, cast it up float it down and repeat. It was on the fourth roll cast I hooked into a nice Rainbow, 16 inches long…………. woohooooo!! I had my first trout of the trip it took all 9 innings with 2 outs and a count of 3 and 2 to boot but I finally scored a run. I waded down to the next run and hooked a 14 incher on the 2nd roll cast. It doesn’t get any better than this!! I think one of the big factors in being successful on this water was the fact that the Sockeyes weren’t nearly as plentiful meaning a lot less eggs floating down stream. On the Russian there were literally salmon eggs everywhere, 100’s of thousands, so if you got a hit there it was pure luck a trout took yours and not one of the thousands of others that were floating by. It was indeed a day to remember and what a way to cap off my trip. I still had to get back to camp, cook dinner, pack up supplies for the long trip home but I’d be doing all that with a huge smile on my face. There was still a day and a half to spend in Anchorage before my flight leaves but as far as I was concerned the trip was over as soon as I walked off that river. I truly hope that someday I can make it back. Thank you Alaska for giving me a life time of memories to look back on with fondness and awe at the beauty you showed me!

Hand Caught Sockeye


It’s always nice to keep a list of what we saw or what went right and wrong. This trip seemed to have a long list of both!! I think I’ll just list all the sightings and forget about the bad things. All in all it was a spectacular trip!!
What we saw in no particular order.
      13 Bald Eagles
      2 Golden Eagles
      6 Grizzly Bears, 1 lone bear, a sow with a cub and a sow with 2 cubs
      7 Caribou
      8 live Moose including 4 calves
      1 dead Moose
      1 Porcupine
      4 Snowshoe Hare
      3 Arctic Ground Squirrels
      15 Dall Sheep
      1 Arctic Fox
      1 Red Fox
      1 Osprey
      21 Trumpeter Swans
      1 Muskrat
      9 gazillion salmon
      Numerous Gray Jays, Magpies, Stellar Jays
      4 Sea Otters
      40 or more Sea Lions
      3 Fin Whales
      5 Humpback Whales
      3 Orcas
      2 Dall Porpoises
      16 or more Beluga Whales
    100’s of Puffins

Clippership RV Rental Review
I don’t put a lot of faith in reviews, I take them for what they are, one person who had a bad experience out of possibly thousands who had a good one. Nonetheless I feel compelled to do a review on Clippership RV Rentals. From day one pricing and reserving our RV as well as rescheduling our rental dates was a pleasant experience via email. I have no complaints there. What I really had a problem with is they way they just simply ignore your even there. They give you the feeling that you don’t even exist, it was the most uncomfortable feeling. Now if your about to fork over a couple thousand plus dollars you would at least think they would make you feel welcome, but far from it. To sum up the whole Clippership experience…… it SUCKED!! They informed me I could pick the RV up early in the morning, in fact it was more than 8 hours later, an entire day wasted waiting on them. They continually lied about the time it would be ready just to appease us. I would much rather have been told the RV wouldn’t be ready until 5 pm rather than strung along from 9 in the morning that every half hour or hour thereafter it would be ready. They switched the unit I reserved from a 24 foot one to a 29 foot one. I didn’t want 29 foot of space just for 2 people, it was a larger drain of gas and more space to maneuver and at some locations the extra 5 feet of space was an additional fee to park, specifically in Seward. The operating instructions for waste dumping, heat, etc were given by a girl who really didn’t know herself how everything worked and the whole instruction process took a mere 8 minutes. On top of that the instruction manual was written by a foreigner and incomplete. Neither of us could remember where the hose was to dump the waste and it wasn’t in the instructions. We ended up asking another person where their hose was stored and where the valves were. They completely lack any customer service skills or consideration that they are wasting your time. To waste a day of my vacation waiting on them is one thing but to waste an entire day of MY LIFE is another and they didn’t have the least bit of concern for that nor did they offer to compensate me in some way. Had they offered a free day for the lost one then I may have not written this review. Joe who was shuttle driver was the only positive thing going for the place. It’s too bad he isn’t running the show as I’m sure it would be much better. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate them a 1 for customer service and customer care. The unit itself was about a 6 out of 10 as there were many damaged parts, furniture, broken woodwork, broken thermostat. If we wanted to use the furnace it was 75 degrees or nothing since the thermostat was broken and didn’t regulate the temperatures. Would I rent from them again or recommend them to anyone? Never!!!!