To Circle

Owl hooting

Rock slides off bluff

Hissing of sediment

Wind in aspens

Howl from a sled dog up river

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Every night before I go to bed, I make a list of the sounds I can hear as I lie in my tent.  I camped at Calico Bluff the last day of June.  Another kayaker had recommended the spot to me.  There was a good beach on an island across from the rock formation.  The bluff is so big that it fills up the whole world when you sit across from it.  It fills up the whole sky with its greys and whites and rust all twisted.  So much pressure, so complex, you want it to mean more than it does.  That afternoon I had crossed the border back into Alaska.  It was good to be back and I fell asleep in love with it all.

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The next morning I was up early.  Rain was coming and I wanted to sleep in one of the cabins between Eagle and Circle.  I had my eye on the Glen Creek Cabin.  I was up early enough that I had paddled there by 1.30.  Thunder was grumbling here and there, so it was good timing.  I brought my gear up to the cabin, hung up a few things to dry and made myself a good lunch of lentils and pasta and an apple.  I caught up on my journal-ing and sat for a bit.

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I paced around the small cabin and sat some more.

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Looked at the registrar.  Twiddled my thumbs.  Peered out the front door . . .  it was only 3 pm.

I looked at my maps.

Dangit.

The legendary Slaven’s Roadhouse was only 33 miles away.  The 2 story cabin that the Yukon Quest Mushers stay at.  After a little more pacing it was decided.  I was going to push on.  The distance was just a little too far to be comfortably covered that evening but something bit me and I was going to get to Slavens and rational thinking certainly wasn’t going to stop me!

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So I packed up my gear and went.  It was a push through a little rain and wind to get there but oh was it worth it.  What luxury!  I made it by 11 pm  and hauled my things up a little hill to discover a two story building with multiple rooms outfitted with a long table in the dining room with a kitchen and stove upstairs.  And beds . . . with MATTRESSES.  Not gross old moldy mattresses either but clean, fairly new ones.  Ha!

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I had the whole place to myself and fell fast asleep in a bed that night and slept until 9 am the next morning.

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Now this was the kind of place where I could relax and take it easy!  That day I went through my gear, read my book, put that traveling guitar that I’ve been lugging around to good use.  In the afternoon I hiked up to an old dredge a couple of miles away.  It was nice just to walk.  All this kayaking.  I miss walking and running and hiking.

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When I returned to Slaven’s an hour or two later, I was excited to see two packrafts resting next to the cabin. . . company!  It turned out to be two park rangers posted in Eagle.  One of them (Nick) who knows my friends Ken and Jack!  Small world.  They were just finishing up a month long wild packrafting patrol down the Charley and another river.  Great having some company!

The following morning it was off to Circle, AK and the start of the intimidating Yukon Flats.

 

 

P.S. An ENORMOUS thank you for the mail in Circle!  That kept a smile on my face for days!

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