Day 1:
Yakutat to Dangerous River
6/17/2015

On the flight to Yakutat, I sit next to a young woman who, I'm surprised to discover, is from Tucson.  A surprise because Pearl and I live just 30 miles from there for 7 months each year.  She's going to see her fiancee Bill who does research each summer in the Yakutat area.  During the school year he's a high school science teacher in Tucson. 

Flying over Glacier Bay through broken clouds, I recognize with fond memories several of the waterways Pearl and I had paddled in our sea kayak 2 summers ago.  The jet lands about 11:30AM and soon were all having lunch at the cafe next to the airport.  When Bill hears of my trip plans, he shares an observation that will prove prescient.  He says that in his experience, the warm, dry weather that had prevailed during May and most of June would have the rain-fed rivers running low, but that the glacier-fed rivers and streams would likely be higher than normal. 

After lunch they kindly offer me a ride to the Situk River, saving me 8 miles of walking along a gravel road through the boggy coastal forest.  On reaching the Situk, a local fisher woman, Nivette, offers me a ride across the Situk.  Nivette and her fishing partner Mike commercial fish the Situk River during the summer salmon season.  Given my later than expected arrival in Yakutat, I take her up on it.  Throwing my pack into their open boat, we quickly motor  across the river.  Many hundreds of terns fly overhead as we cross.  On the other side, I shoulder my pack, wish them a good season, then head across a narrow strip of sand dunes covered in beach wildrye and blooming sea peas.        

Reaching the beach and turning south, it feels great to be on my way.  After all the uncertainty about getting here, I could hardly wait until I could finally depend only on my own legs.  And now, here I am. 

The surf is low at 2-3 feet and the sand firm.  Nice walking.  No bugs.  Rain spits for a few minutes and then the sky gradually clears.  Lower slopes of the Fairweather range are visible inland.  Bald eagles sit on driftwood longs every few hundred yards.  I see one ship far offshore that turns out to be the last offshore vessel I'll see on the trip.     

By evening I'm camped on dunes above the north side of Dangerous River.  The breeze is light and as the sun draws low in the sky, no-see-ums begin to appear.  These tiny biting insects have a notorious reputation in Alaska and I'm glad for the bivy bag, a lightweight bag that my down sleeping quilt goes into, providing some rain protection for the quilt and full bug protection for me. 
 

Andrea and Bill drop me off at the Situk River fishing camp
(Thanks Andrea and Mike!)


Nivette and Mike give me a ride across the Situk River
(Thanks Nivette and Mike!)


Across the Situk River and ready to go


Endless beach stretching to the south


First camp, Dangerous River in background

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