Another post from the Alaskan Traveloque Series. If you are just joining or want to re read any of the posts, here are the links. And now for our feature presentation. . .
(This isn’t a wide angle picture, so you can’t see what is around me.)
Friday morning was cereal and toast which I made in a fry pan since we had a toaster, but no generator. We tried our cig/AC adapter but that wasn’t near enough power to make a toaster work.
The mine opened at 9 and Andrew had already scouted around a bit, so we loaded up and went off to find our gold!! I felt like a bit of a pack horse, as I was carrying the backpack with a shovel and pick, trail mix and pop. I argued briefly about carrying food since I was sure it would attract bears, but I didn’t argue about being the pack horse since I had read the night before about bear safety and it said to keep your pack on to protect your back. Plus I had a shovel and pick at my disposal. I had service on my phone and snapped a few pictures of Andrew as he started searching for gold.
We were off the trail and near the Crow Creek. The creeks around here don’t mess around. When I think of a creek, I think of a hardly moving body of water that is too narrow to call a river. I don’t have a clue what the official requirements are to distinguish between a creek and a river, but the creeks around here flow faster than almost any river I’ve even seen. I guess that’s what happens when the water feeding the creeks is coming down the side of a mountain. Obviously it would come with some speed.
I stood on the banks of that creek looking around and handing Andrew things as he requested them. I was in awe. First of all, I was standing on the banks of a creek that was rushing past with a roar (bank meaning the two or so feet of rocks between the actual water and the steep slope above us). If I were to look up and see a bear, who would have very effectively snuck up on us, since it was hard to hear and the foliage was pretty thick, I have NO idea which way I would have ran. And I was carrying a backpack with food in it. Now, here’s the question. Do you drop the bag, in hopes that the bear was attracted to it and will be intrigued enough to fool with that and try to sneak away, or leave the bag on to protect your back when you possibly get attacked? So I was amazed that I was standing in what felt like a vulnerable place and was still somehow at peace with my coordinates. Just looking around was enough of a reason to be in awe.
(Alyeska-(alee-eska) Resort can be seen, quite high. You can even see evidence of the chair lift. Poles, etc.)
Downstream, and way up the mountain, I could see the Alyeska resort, even evidence of the chair lift waaaay in the distance. Looking upstream and waaaay up there was nothing to see but massive mountains. They were mostly green, with the occasional patch of snow. I could also see some of the glacial streams barreling down the mountain. As of the current time, I don’t think I have a good picture of that, and it’s hard to get one, because they are very narrow in a spot cut out of the mountain, but I will try my best to get one.
I was texting one of my brothers occasionally, while standing near Andrew, telling him how amazed I was that I was wandering around through what I figured must be a bear infested area, hardly even concerned. The only word that comes to my mind when describing the feelings I get when looking around at the landscape is intoxicating. That’s why people live here. Again, I know we are here on their absolute best days of the summer, but still. Days like these could make a person tolerate a long winter. Besides, I know its freezing, but it’s probably a whole other brand of intoxicating in the winter time. That intoxicating feeling must have been wearing down on my irrational fear of bears. Nevertheless, while scanning the “intoxicating” landscape, I did keep my eyes open for bears. J
Needless to say, it isn’t really all that easy to find gold. Our metal detector is a pretty good one, but still can’t distinguish all the trash away, so we dug up quite a few bent nails and some cast iron. No gold. L We hiked along the water and tried many different places. I sat on the side of the trail near a tailing pile that Andrew was searching through and just sat. It was nice to just sit and enjoy the peaceful scenery. I kind of wished I had my computer so I could catch up my writing and write how I was feeling as I was feeling it, but I didn’t have it, so I just sat there and rehearsed in my head what I would write. I pulled out the trail mix we had brought, scanning the area to make sure a bear hadn’t picked up the scent of my nuts, raisins, and chocolate. Mountain trail mix. Wow. Probably the first time I’d ever eaten mountain trail mix on the side of a mountain.
I had read somewhere that Alaskan’s are friendly. That was a true statement. Even people hunting for gold chat about whether or not they found anything, and will readily dig their viles out of their pockets to show off any gold dust they had found. One guy who was right downstream of this tailing pile, even came up to us, put his vile of gold dust on the ground and told Andrew to see exactly what sound his metal detector made when ran over the gold. A far stretch from my imagination where you keep your find a secret lest someone pull a gun on you and demand your gold! Everyone was so friendly.
After about 3 hours of searching and coming up fairly empty hiked the trail over streams flowing down the mountain back to the Crow Creek Mine parking lot where our RV was. We had some lunch and then Andrew decided he wanted to try the sluice box. So we gathered up some more stuff and hiked our way back to where the nice man had been using a sluice box. He was gone, so we kind of picked up where he left off.
This is where I witness firsthand how freezing cold the white water was. Wow. Brrrr. No wonder the kind, friendly, smiling lady downstream was wearing some fancy gloves that looked like they were made out of rubber boot material and probably well insulated. I ran several 5 gallon bucketfuls through the sluice box and then we tore it apart to pan the material that was in there. After quite some time and a lot of swirling, we saw a few tiny, miniscule flakes of gold dust. Boy, it’d take weeks to collect an ounce of the stuff. Maybe Andrew will stick with excavating. A lot less fussy detail work! We tried another bucketful and got a few more flakes, but we decided to get on our way.
We hiked back to the mine parking lot again and loaded up to head south. Andrew spent a few minutes on the phone and reserved us two spots on a half-day halibut fishing charter trip for Saturday afternoon. We also spent a few minutes figuring out what the most economical way would be to ship all this fish we plan to catch back home.
We drove a short way back to the gas station we were at yesterday evening. We figured as long at it was free, we may as well stop and fill back up with water again. It was early evening so we decided to grab a few pieces of pizza from the pizza place right next to the gas station. I did that while Andrew filled up with water and then we ate our pizza. Andrew had smoked salmon, and I was traditional. I took a bite of his, but salmon is a little fishy for me. It was ok, except for the round ball-ish thingys that were on the pizza. I think they might be capers. Something I’ve read about, but never used.
I went to a place called “great Alaskan tourist trap”. Yikes. Probably should have been warned by the name, but I went in and found a few things. One was a hat for Andrew, that might just come in handy on our fishing charter. We’ll see. You can’t ever seem to have too many nice warm hats, even in Michigan. May as well have one that says Alaska on it.
(It was hard to get a good picture of the color of the Kenai lake or Kenai river….:( This is the lake. The Kenai lake is 20 miles long.)
We got on our way, not really knowing what our goal was for stopping for the night, but we were heading towards Homer. It was 184 miles from where we were and we wanted to knock some of that off tonight. We drove on down the highway and when we came to the Kenai river we were again in awe. Wow. The whole thing is turquoise. A very vibrant, freezing cold looking shade of turquoise. Hard to keep your eyes on the road when that is rushing by you. I read in our book that along the Seward Highway there is a turnoff with a posting that tells how the glacial water makes this color to the water, but we were not able to stop at that particular turnoff. I will have to do my own research. I realized with this classified as a river, why the others were creeks. It was rushing by faster than the Grand River that runs through the Grand Rapids area.
We managed to stay on the road, and didn’t even hit a moose, even though our book warned us we were entering a wildlife refuge that was 1.97 million acres, and had the highest moose-vehicle accident rate of anywhere in the state. We found that many campgrounds along this area were full, but we found one about 100 miles north of Homer that was a decent enough place. Andrew pulled the jack out and used it to make the camper a bit more level than the previous night. We tried yet another sleeping arrangement. It worked out ok.
I think I might has also passed on the salmon pizza. Pizza tastes just great the way it is; why mess with perfect. As for the bears, Eileen is getting a little casual–not on high alert the entire time. As for the gold–a few flakes. As for the sleeping arrangements, still nothing is comfortable. Join us again for a day fishing off the coast of Alaska.