Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Call of the Wild - July 7 - Galbraith - Toolik Lake

Note: the story begins here: http://1-800-magic.blogspot.com/2008/07/call-of-wild.html

It’s Monday and we wake up really late – not surprising for us, given the time we went to bed, but the kids are definitely sleeping in. It must be around noon before we have “breakfast” and move out for a hike.

A few words about food. The RV is really made for cooking. There is a pretty big refrigerator with a freezer compartment. We had two cans of ice cream in it at the beginning of the trip and now we’re down to about one half. There is also a gas range with an oven, and a microwave. The microwave contains our supply of freeze-dried meals from REI. These are damn good. Two cups of boiling water and 8 minutes make a pretty tasty meal. They constitute our dinner. We have 8-9 varieties, and I can see ourselves eating these throughout the entire trip without getting tired of them.

We also brought a bunch of cereals and a lot of dried fruit from Trade Joe’s, and Tanya cooks them for breakfast. We also bought four watermelons in Fairbanks. But we are down on drinking water – a 12-pack of green tea bottles, four 2.5 gallon containers of drinking water, two cartons of juice, and three bottles of lemonade are almost all gone – only one 2.5 gallon container remains. Soon we will have to start using the water filter and the iodine tablets. The water in RV is theoretically potable, but I don’t trust it.

The restroom at the Galbraith Lake Camp stinks. Literally and quite severely. Probably the worst restroom so far. I try to persuade everyone to start using the RV’s restroom – we were very conservative on our “black water” budget, since there are very few places where this can be dumped.

The morning was windy, and the mosquitoes disappeared, but the wind subsided by midday and they came out in force. We’re wearing full gear – raincoats, mesh masks and mittens. Still, there are clouds of them around us. We’re going to the lake which is roughly a mile to a mile and a half away. We’re carrying the gun and the fishing pole.

The road to Galbraith Lake looks like a meadow. In fact, it’s three-quarter marsh, and one quarter brush. Navigating it is hard – you have to watch your feet constantly and walking is more like jumping – from mound to mound. We quickly give up the green part and move to the riverbed. There we have to constantly cross various small streams, but at least it is solid ground.

The weather falls apart quickly. The morning was sunny, but by mid-day it’s raining full force. After an hour and a half we finally get to the lake and discover two things. First, the shore is not stable – it consists of really deep dirt with a layer of stones on top. When you step on the stones, your leg sinks several inches, and if you try to stand on it, it sinks further. Second, we have no idea how to operate our fishing equipment. Not only do we not know how to cast it without getting entangled in the string, but to untangle it, we have to remove the mesh mittens – and once we do that, the mosquitoes attack. Finally, the kids beg for mercy and we give up. Now it’s a long march back to the RV. At this point it starts raining really hard – a pouring shower. By the time we’re back in the RV we are soaked to the bone and very cold.

We spend the rest of the day sleeping – the constant knock of the rain outside is very conducive to it. We wake up around 8 and contemplate what to do next. There are many ideas, but one thing is clear – there is no appetite for staying in Galbraith Camp and its smelly restroom. We finally decide to go to the Atigun River and try fishing again.

Atigun River has stable banks, but unfortunately the river is quite shallow there, and there clearly is no way I can cast the hook far enough to anyplace deep enough where the fish could possibly exist. I try casting it from the bridge. It sort of works, and eventually the hook comes back without the bait. It is not entirely clear if this is because it was eaten, or because it had fallen off.

We give up after about an hour and decide to drive to Toolik Lake which is nearby. Camping here is prohibited, but because the RV leaves no external footprint, we decide that we’re going to claim that we’re parking, not camping. The road leads past the entrance to the research facility and to an opposite shore. There we go to sleep.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Полон зависти :-)