Morning starts as usual, Joe and Eric up and moving content of bear fence back into the kitchen. Coffee goes on the stove and more people start stirring. Then like chrysalis emerging, we start coming out of our tents to gather for the start of a new day.
And there is great reason to stir today, its a blueberry pancake morning!
It rained a good bit last night and that sedative keep me asleep. Talk at breakfast was about the bear heard moving around our camp perimeter during the night. David evidently had a conversation with the bear. I wonder if it might not have been dreams stimulated by all the talk last evening about bears. Until, after breakfast I went out beyond the perimeter to kick up gravel and found a mashed down path circling our camp! Apparently we weren’t of enough interest to bring him into camp? Or, maybe the snore guard worked?
We launch into a breezy and overcast day. David and I are with Eric today and we are again into fish as soon as we leave camp. Have you heard this before? Today I’m fishing with a purple wooly bugger with a ping bead head. And yes, the fish de jour is Char/Dollie Varden. Yes, Yes, Yes.
The day turns really windy. The goodnews about the wind is that it is not coming from down river like it often does. As we float on down to Barnam Creek David snags a fly and breaks his 8 wt. He immediately starts thinking out loud what he will do to talk Gretchen out of hers…
We stop at Barnam but there is a lodge boat tied up at the head of the cut, so we stop on the opposite bank. Joe is visible up stream so we wait for Chuck and him to join us for a united lunch break. The weather seems to be clearing but very windy. Paul Bright stops to talk, he is the river ranger for the village. His dog Mongo hops out to greet us when they stop. His dad and niece have both been our boat take out to the village in past years. Now he is “guardian of the river”. He gives us several big pieces of squaw candy, dried and smoked salmon, to add to our lunch. He heads on up river to talk to Chuck. Not too long after Chuck comes around the corner as does Joe for a gravel bar lunch, Smoked ham wraps with salmon candy.
After things get silly we head on down the river to a camp below Barnam. The river has a tremendous amount of salmon either spawning of moving up stream. There are a surprising number of Humpies for a non Humpie year. Reds, Kings and clouds of smaller Dollies are everywhere. We see a few Silvers but not a lot, yet. David catches his largest fish of the trip!
Eric lets Chuck go first to follow him to one of his “hidden” camps, not always easy to find. We only have two more nights and we are getting to the bottom of the river. There is a lot more traffic down here so camp sites can be easily trashed if they are obvious. Chuck’s sites are anything but obvious, so they are clean. They are very similar though; they are back off the river, they are open , they are flat and they are usually behind a willow screen. The view from each site is very similar, willows.
Chuck homes in on tonight’s site and we follow. Everything off loaded and sherpaed through the willows, camp is made. Everyone falling into what has now evolved into our routine of setting camp.
First, the Rod Tree must be identified!
Now we can set camp… With no place to tie up his con, Joe brings it into camp tonight, one of the benefits of an ultra light boat.
So now, once again, it is time again for Whisky, cigars, talk and settling into the evening. A person could get used to this kind of routine.
After a warming dinner of beef/barley stew it starts to sprinkle so we all jump to setting up the trap. It has been great to have an open kitchen the past few days but when the rain comes the tarp is a welcomed addition to camp.
After the tarp is set everyone heads to their tent and it starts to rain. The sound of rain on the rainfly has Chuck asleep before any conversation occurs. Guiding is a tiresome business. There is always something or someone to attend to. Or there is planning what will happen next. And, the what happens if question that is always there?
I charge my phone/camera for the second time of the trip, gear phyuk, and crawl into my sleeping bag to the sound of rain on the tent fly. Tomorrow is our last full day on the river. How quickly it has gone by…