31 May 2011

Project Healing Waters Film

This came across this in my email this morning.  This video will do wonders for documenting and promoting PHW.  Visit these two sites to learn about the film and how to support it.

29 May 2011

Denali in Sight

We've covered over 4,200 miles since the 15th of May and we are at last in Anchorage.  The short drive in on the Glenn Highway was easy but felt longer than it was.  We were eager to be out of the car and in one place for more and a night since leaving San Francisco.  It took us until after lunch, after dinner even, to realize that we weren't getting back in the car and driving another 10 hours the next day.

We couldn't ask for more than a yard with a dog, a bed and delicious meals
Our bed in Anchorage are with some family friends who have been in Alaska for decades.  Their cozy house and generous meals have slowly brought our bodies back to life.  Good beer and conversation help too.  We seem to have brought good weather with us as yesterday was perhaps the warmest and sunniest day Anchorage will see all summer.  We took the chance to stretch our legs and went on a beautiful albeit strenuously steep hike above the Seward Highway.  We scrambled up and gained hundreds of feet earning a panoramic view of Turnagain Arm and the north shore of the Kenai Peninsula.  As the we sat there the traffic heading south picked up as people left for the long holiday weekend.
Most of the trail was literally straight up the face of a  ridge
The Seward Highway follows Turnagain arm east before going through the Kenai Pen.
This weekend marks the opening of many of the rivers and streams on the Kenai for King Salmon.  This coming week we'll be floating some of the rivers for kings and hopefully have the chance to score steelhead as well.

This is the best way to undo 90 hours of driving
For now relief and recovery are deferring reflections of our drive.  A full season of guiding ahead leaves time for little else.  Hopefully these entries will return to trout, salmon, and the world of fish.

27 May 2011

Plus Grand Que Nature

Highway 37 through northern BC has to be one of the most beautiful drives around.  We overshot the turn by about 20 minutes as we followed the flooded Skeena River west towards the coast, but eventually realized our error and turned back.  We stopped at the junction to fuel up, paying nearly $6.00 CAN per gallon.  I spoke with the mechanic at the pump while I gave him most of my earnings, and he said to look for bears as we headed north.  Everyone says look for wildlife, moose, deer, bear, porcupine, all of which we've seen, but you never expect to see them so readily on the roadside.  Sure enough within ten minutes we saw our first black bear.  Not long after, we saw a grizzly, then more black bears, and more, and more.  All together we saw two brown bears and possibly as many as 16 or 18 black bears, we lost count.

A sow and cub turn their attention away from the grass momentarily

A young brown bear was enjoying his meal too much to care about our company

The best we could figure is that they move towards the roadside in the spring to feed on the grasses that grow where the Dept. of Transportation removes the trees.  Grasses are the first to put out new growth in the spring and these bears are eager to put on pounds.

Both brown and black bears feed primarily on vegetation in spring and summer

We were happy to be out of BC and that much closer to Anchorage
Eventually the Cassiar Highway took us up into the Yukon.  We turned west and within hours were in Whitehorse.  Whitehorse is the capital of the territory, and for me musters memories of Jack London stories and images of life in the far north.  Today it's a tourist destination for the cruise ship type that port in Skagway, AK.  Other than seeing displays around town telling of the gold rush history, dam building, logging and so on, there isn't much to do in Whitehorse.  It's hay day has pasted.  We camped across the river from the town, on a little ridge overlooking Long Lake.  The sun set late so we walked down to the shore and surprised a beaver making his evening rounds.  He didn't mind too much that we were there, thumped the water a few times but otherwise minded his own business.

Our campsite above Long lake across the river from Whitehorse
The following morning took us back across the boarder in Alaska.  Changes in the landscape were immediate, with aggressive, sharp peaks to the south.  We drove late as the sun was still high and made it within hours of Anchorage.  We spent the night in the trailer again, insight of glaciers, peaks and a river below.  In the morning prints in the dirt showed a moose had come to sniff the trailer.
Wrangle Range lie north east of Anchorage
This is as good as it gets on the road

24 May 2011

From Portland to British Columbia

Since LA we've covered over 2800 miles and are now well into British Columbia, but not without first finishing the drive along the Oregon coast, spending nights in Portland and Seattle, drinking in Vancouver, and missing a few turns as we head north through BC.

If you ever have the chance to drive the Oregon coast make sure to visit Cannon Beach.  It is a beautiful beach with huge rock structures in the tidal zone.  It was low tide and windy, fairly cool but not without sun bathers.  Certainly not your southern California coastline. 

Cannon Beach at low tide
The sun continued to shine as we drive the last 30 minutes or so up the coast to Astoria, OR at the mouth of the Columbia River.  As far a we could tell it was a boom then bust town now supported cruise liners whose passengers visited the many antique and curio shops and restaurants.

We had a bed in Portland, and with neither of us having spent any time there we left Astoria for the big city.  Portland seems wonderful.  Other than being the runaway capital of the US, it and all of Oregon for that matter has great beer, people and sights.  We spent the night in  a nice suburb, enjoyed showers and a mother's meal.

Logging rules in the northwest

In the morning we drove a little out of our way, east along the Columbia to see the Multnomah Falls.  Route 30 east along the river is a beautiful drive.  Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood are still deep in snow this time of year and the falls are roaring with spring run-off. Then we turned back off our detour and headed for Seattle.

Rt. 30 from below, along the Columbia river between Washington and Oregon
As we neared Seattle the rain that has made the north west famous returned, and so did heavy traffic.  At 3pm I-5 was stop and go. I didn't get a great sense for Seattle, other than it seems like wealthy suburb islands with scattered downtowns here and there.  It's a much bigger and wealthier city than Portland and looks the part.  One of Conrad's home-town friends showed us around and gave us beds for the night.  In return, I bestowed unto him the last of my contraband before leaving the country.
Evidence of old growth forests in Oregon.  Now planted trees make up most of the  landscape.

We crossed the border into British Columbia in the rain with little trouble.  Vancouver is just a short drive from the border and from the short time we were there, we both decided it was a great place with beautiful and diverse people and it deserves a week of our time.  However, we left shortly after a drink and a meal at a nice pub.

There are two roads that go north from Vancouver through BC.  So far we've stayed west, taking rt. 99 through Whistler, rt. 97 north to Prince George, Hwy. 16 west past Smithers and are currently driving north on rt. 37 which will take us to Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory.

Just about all of BC is rural, mountainous, and at this time of year is beautiful.  The creeks and rivers are swollen with run-off from the high snow fields, threatening native villages, bald eagles are crossing over with higher and higher frequency,  and on this Victoria weekend the towns are ghostly with their inhabiters taking to the country side for some spring pleasure.
Smithers was a ghost town on Vistoria's day

We've spent the last two nights in the trailer, fairly warm and no worse for wear, although some exercise would do wonders for my back.  Everyone is eager to talk or help with directions.  We met a fellow last night at a little diner who had left Vancouver last week with his bike and panniers en route Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.  He's blogging about his travels HERE and HERE.  Very admirable! 

Stefan and his bike, plus nearly 70 kilos of gear!

19 May 2011

The Oregon Coast

Since our departure, we've driven 1,000 miles north and a little west to where I finally write.  We are just south of Lincoln City below Despoe Bay on the Oregon coast staying in a beautiful, warm beach cottage.  The sun has just set (20:41) and it has, at last, stopped raining.

Until today it had been raining since we arrived in San Francisco on the 15th and we were lucky enough to spend two of the first three nights in homes.  I have an aunt and uncle in Berkeley whom I don't see enough. We stayed two nights with them, spent a day with my cousin and a friend and shipped out after eggs and bacon on the 17th.  With the San Jauquin Valley, SF and $4.45/gal behind us, we followed the Sacramento River north towards Oregon.  Then we left I-5 to follow the Rogue River northeast before turning back to Redford and Eugene, still in the rain.  We spent that night outside Eugene.  This morning we drove west to reach the coast, then up RT 101 to Newport.

Boats in the Newport Harbor
Cliff along the OR coast north or Florence
Newport's a great fishing town on either side on the Big Elk River.  On a recommendation we had chowder and Fish & Chips at Mo's down by the water.  We saw the seals at the harbor and stopped by the Rouge Nation World Headquarters on the south side of the river - highly recommended.

Rogue Nation World Headquarters, Newport, Or

This makes me giddy
When we had seen enough we  followed the coastal cliffs north to this cottage.  I've been in absolute awe of the Oregon coast since we hit it, almost all of Oregon in fact.  A friend of Conrad has lent us her beach cottage for the night.   So we'll be here for the night and then somewhere north of here tomorrow night, perhaps Portland or Washington.

Low tide in  Lincoln City, Or

Our cabin for the night
Oregon has some of the biggest names in fly fishing, and for good reason.  The McKenzie, the Rogue, the Deschutes, and a countless number of other streams, rivers and lakes produce world class steelhead, salmon and trout year-round.  Maybe we can afford another day here and head east to wet a line.

16 May 2011

Long Road North

Every now again we are blessed with the opportunity for adventure.  Adventure takes many forms, mostly fruiting from one's own efforts to seek the experience.  An adventure can be a day on the water or six months abroad, a matter of happenstance or the culmination of weeks of planning, taken alone or with friends or with complete strangers.  I am lucky enough to have an adventure on the horizon - another long drive.

This particular adventure has been on the horizon for  a year now, and my preparation started with building myself a tear drop trailer.  Teardrops are fascinating.  They have the spacial efficiency of boats with the practicality of cars and tents.  This one also doubles as a storage unit.  I was introduced to teardrops through this book: Teardrops and Tiny Treailers by Douglas HeisterTeardrops and Tiny Trailers.

The Cover of Doug's book

The drive north covers some of the most beautiful country of North America

So I decided to build myself one, how hard could it be?  When I returned from Alaska last summer I consulted with a friend of mine more verse in the ways of hammers and nails, drew up a number of blueprints and began construction.  (I hardly documented the construction) but five weeks later I had a teardrop.  It has since enjoyed a few improvements and here is how it stands now.  So far it has about 4,000 miles on it.
New coat of paint and finished inside

Near the Colorado River in AZ

Sunday I leave southern California en route Hope, Alaska.  The drive will take me nearly 4,000 miles up the length of California, through Oregon and Washington and past some of the most prestigious North American waters before reaching British Columbia.  From there we (myself and Conrad) continue north through BC into the Yukon, through Jack London territory then west into Alaska.  In the two weeks we have, we hope to cover much water, see parts of this country and Canada we've never experienced, chase spring north, and enjoy our most recent adventure (for Conrad it is a particularly sweet treat, perhaps he'll tell you why).

Fishing the San Juan River in Northwestern NM
Dawn in Arizona
So this is as much as we've planned,  leaving room for decide-as-you-go tactics.
Teardrops and Tiny TrailersTeardrops and Tiny Trailers
Stay tuned to Prescription: Trout for news and photos from the drive.

06 May 2011

“How do YOU plan to celebrate National Fishing & Boating Week?”

TakeMeFishing.org – National Fishing & Boating Week

National Fishing & Boating Week is coming up.  What will you be doing June 4th thru 12th?  For a guide on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, what a week to look forward to!   June 11th is opening day for most rivers and streams on the peninsula necessitating a good deal of preparation ahead of a full season.  Hours at the tying bench for nymphs, streamers, dries, painting eggs, tying leaders.  But not to worry, there will be plenty of time to get the gear wet.  As I'll be wading most of the season with clients there's a lot of water to walk before the season. 

The Russian River is loaded with dolly varden and 'bows in August
To all those looking forward to spring: take full advantage of your states free fishing days.  Get your family on the water in early June.  The only thing standing in front of the next great fisher may be a day on the water.

Stay tuned to P:T for notes on my drive from LA to Anchorage, early season photos of Alaska's trout and salmon, along with outing reports, trophy fish and wildlife photos

his is my National Fishing and Boating Week contest entry sponsored by Take Me Fishing and the Outdoor Blogger Network.

05 May 2011

PHWFF National Rod Building Contest

The Project Healing Waters national rod building competition has announced the winners.  Vets from around the country finished their rods a few weeks ago and submitted them into the nation-wide contest for a bid to travel to one of many fly fishing destinations.  The rods submitted were pieces of art, many paying tribute to military honors and medals.

Feather inlay above the handle and on the ferrule.
The competition had three categories for entry:

Category 1
     Those participants with disabling wounds, injuries, or disorders of the upper limbs, eyes,  or neurological system causing greater than 10% impairment.
Category 2
    Those participants with other injuries, but without the above named impairments or limitations.
Category 3
     Those participants who have built a rod in a previous year’s contest.

Abbondondola's winning stars and stripes rod.

The winners for the three categories are bellow:

Category 1
1st Andy Anderson, Long Beach
2nd Chase Gean, Ft. Huachuca
3rd Chris Bollinger, Long Beach

Category 2
1st Louis Doyon, Togus VAMC
2nd Henry Lessard, Togus VAMC
3rd Gabe Castleberry, Wilmington, NC

Category 3
1st Anthony Abbondondola, Togus VAMC
2nd Jesse Garza, Long Beach
3rd Bill Boyce, Long Beach

US Marine Corp rod by Gabe Castleberry

Curious what they won?  The winners get to choose one of these trips:
  • Blue Valley Ranch in Colorado (September 29 - October 1)
  • Kodiak Alaska trip (July 31 - August 6)
  • Flint Rainbow Club Salmon trip in Michigan (October 12 - 16)
  • Big Horn River trip Billings, Montana (June 4-8)
  • 4th Annual Wilderness North Canada trip (July 7-12)
Congrats to Chris on a beautiful rod and a 3rd place finish.
Congratulations to all of the contestants and the winners.  Props to by friends at the Long Beach VA for big numbers among the winners and amazing works.  These are beautiful rods and will look great with a heavy bend in them!

For more on Project Healing Waters visit www.ProjectHealingWaters.org
For more on the competition and for more photos visit http://hookhack.com/html/projecthealingwaters