The season is upon us so I thought I'd share some photos from our Chitina excursion last June. Spring 2007 runoff had caused a number of land slides and some people were saying the road past O'Brien was impassible; so unlike 2006 where I joined the Steers for a redneck 4WD extravaganza, getting back to the canyon via ATV was unlikely.
The spring landslides and the State of Alaska's decision not to repair the road had lead to a number of outcries from some of the public clamoring that the state was restricting their right to dipnet and that access was "denied to Alaskan's and their families" (insert rolling eyes emoticon here).
We thought about paying the $100 for a charter drop off, then decided that jet boats and ATVs suck so we loaded up the cars with bikes and dry bags and headed down.
We left town at 5am and by 11am were hiking and biking into the canyon. Todd and I rode mountain bikes, Yvonne and Lauren hiked. By noon we biked 5 miles into the canyon, scoped out a nice back eddy, anchored off with a rope and landed our first king. Thus began a 12 hour marathon of pain.
For the next 12 hours we worked hard. Our assembly line consisted of Todd and I landing fish, Lauren killing and hauling and Yvonne gutting. When we reached 10 fish we'd load up a dry bag and bike out (each back pack weighing around 50 lbs). Yvonne and Lauren took the first load at 2:30pm - each of them hauling a massive king and 3 reds. Todd took the second trip at 7:30 pm - hauling 12 reds. I took the third trip at 10pm - also hauling 12 reds.
The bike out was miserable... the dry bag cutting into my back and neck and the road washed out in so many places I ended up pushing my bike as much as riding it. It took approximately an hour to reach the car where I dumped the fish in the cooler, grabbed a snack, pounded one of those nasty sugar Starbucks drinks and then turned around for a 45 minute bike ride back.
Right before I reached our spot I met Todd biking out with 15 fish. He announced that the group had decided to quit before I returned out of fear I would keep them there all night. He pawned off half the fish (bringing us to a total of 40 reds and 2 kings) and we turned and headed back out again.
When we reached the car we discovered our fish would not fit in the coolers we had. We briefly contemplated sticking the kings in the rocket box (Yvonne's idea) but then opted to just clean everything right then and there. So at 1:30 am we sat down and started filleting. We finished around 3am and passed out in the car.
4 hours later we were on the road and by 7pm everything had been packed away. By 9pm - 40 hours later (and 4 hours of sleep) we were eating fresh king!
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