Sunday, April 22, 2007

Gliding Over H2O

Spring has arrived in the far north as geese return from the lower latitudes

Wow--what a difference a week can make. Its hard to believe I spent 125 miles gliding across the snow covered Denali hwy on skate skis last weekend. Now this weekend we pulled out the canoes and floated Clearwater Cr near the community of Delta Junction (about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks). Most of the rivers throughout the interior are still ice covered or choked with ice flows as they begin to breakup with the balmy spring temperatures. Clearwater Cr is unique since it is spring fed and actually remains ice-free throughout the winter. This makes it a perfect place to drop the boats in the water and get an early season float. Its also a great opportunity see large congregations of migrating waterfowl stopping over and resting in the open water before they continue north to their nesting grounds in the arctic.

Sharon sports her froggie breakup boots and is ready to hit the river in style! Boy--is she sizzling HOT in green rubber!

Jackson and Katie navigate the barge down the Clearwater--check out that junk in his trunk! Dude, Jackson--this is only an overnight trip. What you got in that J Lo trunk of yours?

Helena ripped out some tunes with her minnie guitar as we floated downstream.

The remnants of winter were still visible. These cool shelves of ice extended out from the shore along most of the creek.

Trevor the traveling bartender whipped up Irish "canoe" bombs en route. Here is Sharon and Dan pounding a few before paddling on down the river.

Sandy was making some smooth moves in the kayak.

The distant peaks of the AK Range were dramatic in the evening light as Helena and Celso drifted downriver.

Lars kickn' it in the RAM -X. I am not quite sure what he his planning to ram with that thing.

We found a sweet campsite with bundles of firewood for a raging bonfire. It was an absolutely clear night with twilight until midnight followed by a display of northern lights.

This pic is a bit blurry but I sort of like the effect. Sharon's nephew Gary was turning 14 and Celso the ripe ol' age of 37--so Betty Crocker (aka Sharon) made cupcakes in an ice cream cone. What a culinary cool is that?

Self portrait--Me, Trev, and Brian. Check out those studly Alaskan beards.

The morning broke warm and sunny after an overnight low of 18F.

On the last mile or so of the trip we have to paddle up the creek coming out of Clearwater Lake. The current was really strong when first started up the creek and even us 3 studs had to get out and line the boat because we couldn't make it. The worst part was the knee deep mud that tried to suck your shoes off.

This bald eagle flew from tree to tree as we paddled up to Clearwater Lake. I got lucky and caught him in flight.

Clearwater Lake at last. There were thousands of Canada geese resting in the lake before beginning the final leg of their migration to the Arctic.

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