Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Monday, 2 July 2007

She Laughed at My Mighty Trout

Haines, Alaska – July 2, 2007

We hiked up a mountain trail near Skagway to Little Dewey Lake with a backpack full of fishing gear, sandwiches, water and books. Eventually we found a spot clear enough to cast a silver spoon. I caught two energetic rainbows. Mrs. Phred giggled and called them babies, so I sent them back.

The sandwiches were good. I packed a tomato to add at the last minute. We hiked a three mile loop around the lake. On the East side the trail seems to disappear and you climb over fallen boulders and tree trunks for about a mile. The trail guide does mention that the trail is full of rocks and roots on the East side.. Mrs. Phred asks if I’m sure this is the trail. I remind her that I’m a trained navigator and keep the lake in sight on my left. Eventually we emerge from the woods.

The Alaska ferry will take us to Haines this afternoon. Haines is a small commercial fishing village on the Lynn Fjord. There are a couple of state parks on the nearly uninhabited peninsula south of Haines. It’s about 600 miles to Valdez from Haines, the road runs along the largest collection of mountains and glaciers in the Western Hemisphere.

The Copper River is on the way to Valdez. The Sockeye Salmon enter the river at the rate of 15,000 a day from now until July 15th and then the summer sockeye run drops off there. On the Kenai Peninsula, the sockeyes start running up the Kenai River about July 15 and rush though at the rate of 35,000 a day until July 23. Eventually they end up in the Russian River upstream from about August 1st to August 13th. The concensus is that Sockeye taste the best of the five types of Salmon. They average about ten pounds each.

We wait three hours for the Ferry to offload and onload from Skagway. The Toyota goes on two hours before the RV. I hear a shouted "Bob!" from 500 yards away over the boat and truck engine noises and see a small figure in pink waving from the top deck of the ferry...Mrs. Phred has an impressive set of lungs...Sometimes I hallucinate that "Bob!" hail, but this one was real.

We meet George and Alice. He is a retired auto shop teacher, Boston Irish, and have dinner with them on the Ferry. Two fishermen are casting spoons into the harbor while waiting to board. I join them, make ten casts and quit. They both keep fishing and each brings in a 30 pound salmon, although the run is not here yet. Later I learn that Skagway is enjoying a run of "kings" released from a hatchery with no place to spawn.

There are about 20 antique cars loading up, a D-8 caterpillar tractor, four dump trucks, eight motorcycles and about 30 RVs. What takes so long is that everything that goes aboard has to back out. It's an experience. Some of the things backing out are 40 foot trailers pulled by pickup trucks. It's all done by watching a deckhand in front of you point left and right. The space is too small for extended mirrors. The ferry will arrive in Bellingham, Washington next Friday. It's a big ferry, with three decks of staterooms and a very nice bar playing Bob Dylan music.

Haines has a fish market. We buy some sockeye and look at the state parks in the area. The old Fort Seward in Haines is an artist colony now. It was established in 1902 to keep Canada from reclaiming this part of Alaska on the cheap.

Here are some pictures of the Haines area.

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