The salmon are running

Trip Start May 02, 2012
Trip End Jul 31, 2014

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Where I stayed
Tok Village RV Park

Flag of United States  , Alaska
Sunday, June 17, 2012

Drove along the Klondike Highway from Skagway. We disembarked at 4:30am, and although Skagway is an interesting little town, we just didnt feel like waiting for everything to open. We got as far as Haines Junction where we camped at a National Park campsite. Beautiful at the lake, but hordes of mosquitos....and no showers....! Then crossed the border at the top of a remote mountain into Alaska again. The drive was quite dismal for me. It is a harsh country in this area, and even the trees are forlorn and stunted. The road was bumpy and wavy and patched up all over - I suppose because of the harsh climate. But we were "king of the road" in our 4x4!! All the big RVs went very carefully, and after only passing about 6 vehicles in our entire trip we just passed everyone.... Great feeling... ! We think that we are fairly adventurous, until we passed a lone woman cyclist, with panniers, miles from anywhere, in shorts....

From Haines Junction we pushed through to Tok (pronounced Toke). Stayed in a really nice campsite and even washed down our vehicle with a super-jet water spray and broom as we got very muddy on those awful roads. Andy had a sleepless night and stayed awake reading most of the night, without having to turn on a light!

From Tok we decided to head south for Valdez because people all said that it was worthwhile, so that's where we are now. I irrationally almost expected a sort of Spanish Costa Brava type feel being at the coast, and with a name like Valdez! Well it's at the sea, on the Prince William Sound, but it is surrounded by huge, heavily snowed mountains... It is amazing. The average annual snowfall here is 25 feet, and on the pass coming into the town, it is often 50 feet. The snow just doesn't ever melt off the mountains. The snow markers to guide the snow ploughs are like huge highway lights that arch in. We travelled alongside a big pipeline - theTrans-Alaska pipeline - also known as the Alyeska Pipeline - that is 800 miles long and carries oil from the Prudhoe Bay oilfields. We are at a campsite right in the centre of this little town, right at the small boat basin. Such a buzz, and the smell of salmon smoking permeates the town. There is a lady in a little bright pink cart thing driving around selling ice creams. She has fairground type music going - all very jolly, but ice creams....! Lots of bald eagles just flying around, and even a black rabbit hopping around here.

On our way here, on a tributary of the Copper River, the Klutina River, we saw hundreds of people camping along the side of the road, and cars parked all over, people hurriedly getting all their fishing gear out, pickup trucks full of cool boxes, and general excitement. When we went to investigate more closely ( we had to park a long way down as there was just too much traffic) we found that the salmon were running... It was unbelievable. People say it is the best run in 15 years, and they attribute this to the fact that the tsunami in Japan destroyed the fishing fleet. Fishermen/women/ children, all in waders, casting in frantically, with brightly colored plugs, were pulling in fish after fish. The daily quota is 3 per day per person, and you are sure to get that. The salmon are the red salmon, very prized for sushi and general taste. The fish apparently don't feed at this time, but they flash at the generally red plugs because they see them as eggs. The fish looked to be about 4/5 kg. With about 22 hours of daylight you can get in quite a lot of fishing! People come from all over Alaska to fish and stock up their freezers. There is a little business in a cabin, that freezes fish right there. It was a sight I will never forget.
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Moragh Paxton on

Just catching up with the Donovans again. It sounds and looks fascinating, Ann, and the blog is great for catching up with you. you have moved quickly up the West coast.We never got so far north.

siyaya on

It has been just wonderful, Moragh.... Are you on vacation yet?

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