Monday, July 18, 2011

Nearing Carmacks on the Yukon River: Day 15 of the Yukon River Trip

I'm perplexed when I try to recall the miles that followed Little Salmon Village and ended with us docking in Carmacks.  All my memory can muster are a few non sequential moments and flickering images of the final part of our Yukon River Trip.  Every now and then a once lost memory will surface like the flutter of a dream at the breakfast table.  Each time, I count those remembrances as a precious gift bestowed upon me by the mighty Yukon River.  I attribute my disjointed recollections to our exhaustion and to the automation of our paddling.  We had but one thought:  Get to Carmacks.  Our arms pushed and pushed while our torsos surged forward, then backwards, and over and over again.  To momentarily alleviate the deep ache in my arms, I would allow the oar to come up to my collarbone so that I could use the weight of my body teamed with gravity to help thrust the oar through the water and propel the Sundowner one stroke closer to Carmacks.

I do remember wanting so badly to be able to find and stop at 12-Mile Cabin, but we never saw it.  I do remember following the map over my right shoulder and seeing our progress while counting down the miles.  I do remember navigating through numerous islands of all sizes in the wider Yukon River.  I do remember the rain gradually letting up as the day aged.  I do remember seeing houses, or shacks rather, extended with what looked like scrap lumber and dressed in tarps of many colors.  I do remember wondering if they were summer cabins or year-round residences; I just couldn't imagine how a family could hole up in one for a ruthless Yukon winter and emerge in the spring to watch the ice break on the river.  I do remember being nervous to enter Carmacks…not knowing what to expect, where to dock, and how we would be received.  And I do remember being conflicted by the sight of the first bridge spanning over the Yukon River in 202 miles, which announced the village of Carmacks; my disencumberment was unexpectedly shadowed by a gnawing disappointment that our Yukon River Trip was nearing its end.

Our First View of Carmacks While Floating the Yukon River

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