A single shot rang out as I approached Rampart. It came from somewhere up in the village. I hesitated.
I was in hope of finding a place to dry off in Rampart.
It had been raining all evening. A steady rain. The kind that is nice to listen to while sitting inside on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book. Not the kind that is particularly nice to kayak through.
I drifted up to the boat landing and hauled my kayak ashore. Two men came down to the beach on an ATV with a dead dog. A big, black dog with long hair and a bullet hole in his head. They lay him on the beach, fetched their boat, tied the dog to the boat with a rope and dragged the body out into the current to let him go.
I walked up to the town hall to dry off and eat some oatmeal before continuing on.
Sometimes I think about my timing on this trip. Depending on exactly when I paddle away from shore into the river each time, I may have an entirely different adventure: meet different people, have different interactions, see different wildlife. If I had arrived in Rampart ten minutes earlier or later, I never would have seen that poor dead dog. But that was my timing.
I saw the sun for a few hours four days ago and then maybe for half a day a week before that. It’s been all rain ever since. This is where travel becomes a mental game. This is where you have to “embrace the brutality” as they say on the CDT.
It hasn’t been easy spending the days cold and wet in gloomy drizzle but it definitely has made me appreciate town visits more. At every stop I have been lucky to meet such great people. Since leaving the road the Yukon has taken me past the communities of Rampart, Tanana, Ruby and Galena. Visiting these villages has become my favorite part of this trip. It has been intriguing to learn about the lifestyles of people who live along the Yukon and I have been absolutely floored by the kindness of the people I have met.
Complete strangers have given me rides to washeterias, helped me get fresh water, invited me into their homes, cooked meals and told me stories about their lives on the river.
I have stayed in Galena the longest out of all of these stops and perhaps that is why I enjoyed it the most. Galena is one of the larger villages on the Yukon with a population of about 800. It is spread out between the “old town” and “new town.” There is a post office, a library, school, elder center and not one but TWO grocery stores.
Last spring a flood caused by an ice jam devastated the village of Galena. One of the elders in the village has lived here for 99 years and he says the flood was worse than any he had seen or heard of. People were evacuated. Homes were destroyed. This summer they are hard at work re-building. Volunteers have come in to help raise homes and build new ones.
Galena is a very special place. Walk down the street and every single person you pass- whether they are in a vehicle or not will smile and wave. If they are heading in the same direction as you, they will immediately pull over and ask if you’d like a ride.
When I first arrived in town, early yesterday morning, I walked around the old town for a bit, trying to figure out where everything was. A woman named Harriet pulled alongside me in her car and told me that nothing opened until ten but that I was welcome to come and hang out at her house and warm up until then (it was 40 degrees and raining so I was thrilled by this offer). She had me over and fed me scrambled eggs with sausage, oranges and tea! And gave me a ride all the way back to old town at 10 so that I could go to the Post Office. Wow. Thank you Harriet!
A friend of a friend let me stay at her home even though I had never met her and even though she is out of town. How spoiled am I! Thank you Carrie!
I plan to push off later this evening and am looking forward to the villages ahead. The weather report says it might even clear up in three days. Boy do I hope so! But no matter what, I have the villages to look forward to.
Thank you all so much for cheering me on and following this trip! It means a lot especially with this rough weather which makes the trip more of a mental challenge. Thank you all for the mail in Galena! I am one lucky kid and will be eating very well this next leg of the trip!