Sunday, October 14, 2012

Two Months

I've  now spent two months in one small region of Alaska, a week at a time, in eight trips spread over ten years with each trip occurring between mid-August and late September. In this way, you get to know a little bit about a place, at least in a particular slice of season. In much the same way, I feel I know a particular series of ridges in western Colorado, based upon eight or nine fall hunting trips spread over twenty-some years. For that matter, I used to know a particular mountain in western New Mexico and I have a fair idea of a particular basin in the northern end of that state, along with a few other spots.

 I've mentioned  before some of the various trips we've taken to fish for silver salmon (see here, here, here and here). Consequently, I don't have much new to say, more of a report. This year saw a little bit of sun and also a fair bit of rain. Over one 48 hour period, about 7 1/2 inches of rain fell. It felt like more to me, but that's what the web says fell for those days, and I'm sure the web wouldn't lie. I don't really have the experience to grok that level of rainfall, as less than that has fallen in my slice of New Mexico for the last 18 months. In any event, the rain brought all the rivers, creeks, and sloughs up quite a bit and rendered them unfishable. We ended up on some of the smaller tributaries and got to wade through some waist-deep water in head-high alders.

The fishing was pretty tough and most of the fish ran a bit smaller than we're used to, lots of eight pound fish instead of tens and twelves. For wildlife, apart from the usual ducks, geese, cranes and swans we had some river otters swim right up to us. No bears, apart from one little black bear right in town.

This portion of Alaska strikes me a lot like the Grand Canyon- photographs, at least my snapshots, never capture the scale of the country. It feels a little bigger than the already big Western landscapes that I call home.

Thinking about the near-annual, one-week-only connection with a place over 2,500 miles from my home, I'm reminded of the conflict between local and visiting interests and the power of conservation movements. I've put a bumper sticker (only one that actually says anything) on my truck that addresses an issue local up there. Driving on a high-desert highway, I've had occupants of an overtaking vehicle honk and wave thumbs-up in apparent agreement, again, thousands of miles from the scene of the issue. I like to think that hunters and fishers are more than regular tourists- that if a place special to us is changed for the worse we just don't find another spot and move on, because our time in those places is more significant, that we'll invest a little more and fight a little harder for them. In the meantime, we'll head up there with friends and family as we can, enjoying the cool clean air and the rain, the scenery, and the salmon. One of the best weeks of the year.

1 comment:

danontherock said...

Fantastic trip to fantastic country.

I hope you get outside more and post more.
Say no to Pebble Mine!