On the Ground in Alaska

  • Well, it took some doing but I was finally able to convince the United Airlines attendent to change my seat from a center seat on the left side of the plane to a window on the right side for the final leg of my flight from Seattle to Anchorage a few days ago. The right side is the mountain side! While the mountains around Seattle do impress, it’s the Wrangell St. Elias range, and Mount Saint Elias in particular at 18,009 ft, that I always look forward to seeing about 45 minutes before descending into Anchorage. Before that is the amazing glaciers around Yakutat including the round Malaspina Glacier, the largest piedmont glacier in the world at 1,500 square miles in size. Not long after are the fjords and tidewater glaciers of Prince William Sound. This last winter was hard in many parts of Alaska but in Prince William Sound in particular from the looks of it––the snow was down almost to the sea throughout the sound. In June!

    This is Prince William Sound, Alaska.

    Once in Anchorage, I met my parents who drove up from Homer to see me. Our old friend Cathy has put us up these last few days while I run around last minute. One of the places I always visit for commercial fishing gear, B& J, had this great painting of Bristol Bay drifters on the wall. The chaos of drifting is exactly the reason I am a setnetter––our fishery is much more individual, calm and civilized. What a great a painting though!

    This is our last day in Anchorage before setting off to fishcamp for the season–nervous and excited. Its so nice here in Anchorage (65 and sunny, sort of) it makes it hard to imagine it will be any other way when we fly the few hundred miles west to the Ugashik River. But it always is different, usually with lots of wind and rain. But the place is wild and untamed and like no other. That’s why we love it. We will leave the trees, tourists and streets behind and head to the land of endless tundra and mountains and bears and wolves cruising the beach.

    Our flight leaves tomorrow at 11am so we’ll get up bright and early to do some last minute packing. We have coolers and insulated fish boxes full of food––enough to last us the summer (of course lots of salmon in the diet too!). When flying into a remote fishing village it’s always easy to tell the drifters from the setnetters––the setnetters will often have eggs and plant starts or sometimes baby chickens in their laps. The drifters can buy things in Naknek, King Salmon or Dillingham while many setnetters like us are far from anywhere to buy anything.

    Can’t wait to get out there tomorrow! We’ll see how the weather is. We might have to stay the night in King Salmon.


    June 9th, 2012 | Traveler | No Comments |

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