To Pilot Station

“But don’t the dead people bother you?” a young girl with wide eyes asked me after hearing that I was traveling the river by myself.

“No!  Do they bother you?”  I asked and was then treated to several good ghost stories.


I hadn’t intended to stay in Marshall, but when I arrived at 7 pm, it had been raining steadily for 24 hours and I was in hope of finding a place to dry off.  I secured my kayak at the boat landing and walked up to town.  I stumbled upon a building with a towering cross and, thinking it was a church, went in to see if it was alright for me to dry off there.  Upon opening the door, I was ambushed by a good twenty inquisitive kids filled to the brim with questions about who the heck I was and what I was doing there.

I had stumbled into the community’s rec center run by Samaritan’s Purse, or more specifically, by Margaret and John who put together meals for anyone in the village under 18.  Margaret and John are originally from Seattle and moved up to Marshall temporarily to work with the Samaritan Program.  They like it so much, they hope to stay on permanently.


They were kind enough to let me camp out in the rec room for the night.  The kids hung around until 9 pm and were a lot of fun.  I sat in a corner of the room, trying to stay out of the way, but as soon as I sat down, I was swarmed and half of the room was standing around me or sitting at my feet asking a million questions, inspecting my compass, and trying to feed me candy.  They were a sweet bunch.

After the kids were sent home around 9, Margaret and John asked me if I’d like any leftovers from the dinner and let me watch a movie on the tv there.  Wow!  I’m spoiled.

It was nice to get out of the rain.  Even though I am getting so close to being done, the end seems so impossible and far away when the weather turns for the worse.

Bad weather had trapped me at the Devil’s Elbow for a good 12 hours.  The Devil’s Elbow is a point where the Yukon takes a 90-degree turn and the current does strange things.  It was a relief to finally get safely past.


I got going again at 8 am the following morning, fighting against wind and waves.  The current has slackened quite a bit in the last 100 miles.  The weather began to clear some in the evening and I paused at Pilot Station’s boat landing to eat dinner.  A mother and her two little girls came over to say hello and welcome me to town.  The girls had never seen a kayak before.

I ate cold chili for dinner and ended up camping on a very nice beach on an island a couple hour paddle from town.  There were several sets of moose prints in the area but no bear.  I took care to camp in the open so that nothing would trip over me by accident.  A moose did come near my camp at 2 am, but a holler sent him away.

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