Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Savoring Carmacks: Day 18 of the Yukon River Trip

We passed our last night on the Yukon River by fishing, panning, and snatching bites of instant mashed potatoes. 

Susan Fishing with the Carmacks Bridge in the Background

The Yukon River's swift current sent my fishing line speeding back to the shore directly following every one of my casts, making my attempts of catching a fish fruitless.  But, that didn't stop me from hours of trying this and that from Jake's tackle box.  I yearned for a fish but accepted that I probably wouldn't get one.  Regardless, I kept fishing, mostly to savor my last hours of interacting with the mighty Yukon River.

During one of my evening fishing spells, a beaver swam startlingly close to my spot on the bank before seeing me.  The loud cracking sound of his tail slapping the water told me I was in his territory.  When I didn't scare off, curiosity lured him back again and again to investigate the stranger along his river bank.  For a good part of an hour, I watched him gracefully glide and twist through the water before me, breaking his fluid movements now and then to smack his tail on the river's surface, sending chaotic splashes of water my way, before diving deep and swimming away only to repeat his agile advances toward me. 

Panning for gold was the interlude between my bouts of fishing.  As the temperature dropped, my fingertips winced with each dip into the frigid water of my pan.  My shriveled fingertips poked and grabbed at the tiny rubble of jagged pebbles, mud, silt, and sand, trying to remove what I could to lessen the excess in my pan.  My hands shuddered from the cold as I dipped the lip of my pan just below the surface of the river to take on just a tad more water for the next swirl of my pan.  Accidental splashes of water would escape my pan and drench my wrist and the cuff of my sleeve, sending shivers through my body to try and ward off the cold.  After finishing a pan, I would look at my battered fingers to judge if my hands could take another round. My chapped hands and cracked fingers advertise a fragment of the wrath the Yukon River has rendered upon us during the last three weeks of paddling and surviving in the wilderness.  The ends of my fingers are tender and feel bruised, making simple tasks like grasping and pulling a zipper annoyingly painful.

And once again, we let the Midnight Sun sneak an entire night away; by the time the darkening sky squealed on Time, we figured it would be best to push through and burn some coffee to combat the chilly morning air.  I won't mourn for last night's missed sleep, even though we have a big day of packing, shuttling, taking out, and driving still ahead of us.  The Yukon's unexpected blessing of extra time during our last night on the river built a finale of memories befitting our Yukon River Trip.

Click here to continue by reading "A Dilemma & Departure in Carmacks: Day 18 of the Yukon River Trip."

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