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Walking the Banks of the Yukon, Driving the Alcan

Walking the banks of the Yukon River last night, in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (on our annual trip up the Alcan Highway to run the guide business in Gakona, Alaska), we were treated to gorgeous blue water, views of river ice beginning to head downstream, a beaver on the banks and a plethora of signs telling of the rich history of this area.  Most of the signs along that particular river loop tell the stories involving the sternwheelers that did the heavy work of hauling people, supplies, and spoils of the mining activities in the region (silver-lead ore in the case of the Klondike).  We found the dam in Whitehorse, along with its fish ladder to allow the migrating salmon upriver, especially interesting. Other sights on the trip included so much wildlife as always! We saw a hungry black bear high up in a Poplar tree, munching away on newly emerged buds, completely oblivious both to us and the cracking, tiny branches holding him that seemed ready to give way any second. Many buffalo eating the tender spring grass in the ditches alongside the roads broke up that stretch of the trip, and we found the new spring babies especially endearing. Migrating caribou always keep drivers alert, as they seem to be around every corner on some stretches of road, and don’t seem in too big a hurry to move. This trip between North Carolina and Alaska, while long (especially with a 2 and 4-year-old), has become a regular part of us and the kids’ lives, and has become something we look forward to. It marks the passing seasons for us as...

Do Something Different with Salmon: Gravlax!

If you have a stockpile of Alaskan sockeye salmon, stop hoarding it, and turn it into a culinary delight with this Scandinavian recipe for gravlax!   What’s that, you say? No, not lox, as in lox and cream cheese, but similar. Gravlax is a traditional Scandinavian way to cure salmon.  The name comes from the real traditional way to prepare it: burying salmon (lax) in a salty grave (grav). But we needn’t bury fish in the yard, let’s just stick to some pans and plastic wrap this time around. First, do yourself a favor and start with salmon that you know has been taken well care of and frozen as fresh as possible.  There is very little processing done, so the final product is only going to be as good as the quality of fish you start with.  Using frozen fish also assures that any parasites within the fish have been killed. You’ll need: a filet or two of fresh-frozen salmon, skin-on and fully thawed in the fridge (this dish is salty and very thinly sliced so a little goes a long way), lots of dill, some salt, pepper and sugar, plastic wrap and a shallow dish that the filet will fit in, plus one more to place on top. Additional spices are sometimes used, such as cloves or juniper berries, but we wanted to really taste the salmon, so just went with the plain, dill version.       First, place the fish in a shallow pan (after you’ve completely thawed it in the fridge), skin side down.  Mix 5-6 Tbsp salt, 1-2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp pepper and sprinkle over the fish.  Pack the dill on top, completely covering the...

Back in Alaska!

New Skies is back in Alaska!  Our home base for our rafting and fishing business is located in Gakona, Alaska and we’re back for the 2016 season after almost 5,000 miles on the road through the U.S. and Canada.  We’re so ready to stretch our legs (and rowing arms!) after that trip.  We saw some beautiful parts of our country on the drive up, crossed major rivers and came across a huge variety of wildlife, especially in northern Canada.  We got to see what seemed like the spring season in reverse as we came up from the warm, sunny South into the colder, slower-to-thaw Northern territory.  At the tail end of the trip, ice still crusted the edges of rivers and hungry animals such as buffalo, bear and elk were eagerly stripping roadsides of new, green shoots of grass and giving us a great view.  What a wild welcoming party! The rivers have mostly cleared of winter ice in Alaska, but a Kodak moment today with some playful eagles was characterized by blowing snow and frozen fingers.  It didn’t seem to bother the eagles and ravens.  They seemed downright frisky and happy to soar in the freezing wind.  As for us, we’re downright happy to be here, too in all its grey, springtime glory.  Now it’s time to make ready for the summer, the salmon, the sun and rafting and fishing...

Creekin’ in the Shredder, Part II

  …Another scenic river adventure with some whitewater!  Since their warm-up run on the Davidson went so well, JJ and Greg decided to try the North Fork of the French Broad river.  The North Fork (IV-IV+) is a local creek run in Brevard, NC that had sustained a runnable level for a few weeks.  The ground was still charged from all the recent winter rains and they saw the Shredder’s window of opportunity at 1200 CFS.  So they rounded up the gear and off to the river they went… A little less accessible than most river runs, getting the raft down to the water involved keeping the thwarts un-inflated and “folding” the boat to carry it through the woods.  Once at the river, the first few rapids went smoothly and the first scouting stop was Boxcar rapid…Technically, running the rapid itself went great!  However, there may have been a small loss of balance leading to a refreshing swim afterward. They proceeded downstream through the other rapids, walked Submarine, and paddled out the Lower with the sun on the river.  Pretty day and good times.~    ...

Creekin’ in the ‘Shredder’

No fishing happening on this rafting adventure!  A lot of rain and a day off of our winter work afforded JJ and Greg the chance to try out the Shredder (2-man cataraft) on the upper Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest.  The river was running class III+ (IV) due to recent rainfall and confidence may have been a little compromised when 1) a group of kayakers at the put-in spoke of the impending carnage they were about to witness and 2) they couldn’t recall many people they knew that had “shredded” the Upper Davidson.   So, they did what most boaters do in the face of nerves and put on anyway…safety, of course being of the utmost concern. The trip went very smooth as they paddled through the rapids and skirted some log jams.  One major tree in the way resulted in a portage for the cataraft and a small river rescue for the supportive kayakers from the put-in.  Is there River Karma?  Probably..   (All kidding aside, we’re glad everyone’s okay.) All paddles and paddlers involved came out okay in the end and there’s another beautiful river memory for the mental archives.  Way to get out there to log some time in 2015 before it’s all the way gone,...

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