Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Double take

I'm not sure why that last post had duplicate pictures. Here is a picture of the Alaguchik river that I was fishing. This river isn't very long and runs out into the bay not more than a half mile from the view point of this picture. There are some shallow lakes around too, but they freeze over during winter and don't hold anything.

I really enjoy waking up on mornings with a beautiful sunrise for two reasons. One is that it's easier to walk over to the school to take a shower with a nice sunset to look at. Two, you know that it's going to be a nice, but windy day outside. The water in the background is actually the harbor and bay. The Alaguchik is almost 3 miles in the distance.

Fishing the Alaguchik

This posting is for all my friends who like to fish or who like hearing me talk about fishing. I managed to put my school work down for a few hours on Sunday and go for a little hiking and fly fishing adventure. I loaded all my fishing gear up in my big pack and started hiking out towards the airport, about 1 1/2 miles from my house. Then I turned onto a fourwheeler trail over the Tundra, which are everywhere. Following this trail/road down to the river I just started hiking up the river to a place where it looked the fishing might start getting good. I changed into my waders and rigged my 7 wt. rod up and felt my heart start beating a little harder. It had been about 3 or 4 weeks since I had been fishing and I was ready.

Hiking up the river, I saw a couple of Silver Salmon hanging out next the bank or just above a rapids. I made a cast to them and they emediately darted away. They are really hard to sneak up on. I had heard that there were Dolly Varden in the river as well and that they were sucking up Salmon eggs like a hoover vacuum, but all I saw was tiny, tiny fish attacking my egg pattern. I kept hiking up and casting in holes that looked like they might hold a fish. Again, Salmon that either saw me and bolted or stubborn Salmon that would watch my egg float right by them and not budge. Really frustrating!

After about an hour and a half, I got to a bend in the river that was deep right against the bank and a nice tail out from the rapids above. I made a couple of casts and felt a little bump. I set and much to my surprise, I hooked a 17 - 18 inch Dolly. Thinking that I had stumbled onto the a rogue fish, I moved up and kept casting. Within the next 10 casts, I had hooked two more fish of the same size. Woo-hoo! This was fun. I wished I had my net, because a couple of fish shook my hook before I could get them to my hand. My 12 lb test was going to hold them no problem. All in all, 6 Dolly's and two came home with me for dinner. Pretty tasty. I even tried to cook the roe, although, I wasn't too fond of that.

I'm discovering a more comfortable life up here. Once my bike gets up here, I think I'll be set. I wouldn't mind some visitors eventually as well. Better make it quick, winter is coming. Brr!

My First Steam and Eskimo Icecream

Well, with my first week of classes under my belt, I was thoroughly drained and helpless. But my first week was under my belt. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were spent crunching more data and trying to figure out how to help our kids succeed in Math, Reading, and Writing which would ultimately help Nelson Island High meet AYP (Academic Yearly Progress). After that was over, my brain was an egg frying on a stove top. Sizzle, Sizzle! My fellow teacher, Marty invited me to join him and two others for a steam. I had heard that my first would be one to remember, because I would get initiated. I'm not really big on the whole fraternity concept of initiations, but I knew this would be a little different.

Picture a small wooden shack with a small entranceway and a front room with a low ceiling where you get undressed and keep your clothes. There is cardboard on the floor to soak up sweat and change when they get too muddy. Now imagine a door leading into a smaller room with a lower ceiling, forcing you to stay bent over. Everyone sits on the floor and the heat wave is intense. Yeah, it's kind of like a sauna, but a little smaller and really well sealed from the elements outside. Lava rocks are piled on a pretty darn big wood stove and water near by of course for dumping on the rocks. Well, the natives up here like it hot. How hot? Hot enough that you have to wear something over your ears or they will burn and blister. Hot enough that any moving air will burn you....period. That includes your breath. Therefore, you have to be careful not to breath on anyone. You still have to breath, therefore, I had a burned tongue and gums from the heat. There were a couple of times when I had to cover my eye lids and really get as close to the floor as possible or it felt like my flesh was melting off.

Anyway, we steamed two or three times, each time getting to the point where we can barely stand it. Then we go back out to the entrance way to cool off and then go back in again. The sweat is literally running off you and you have to drink water regularly to keep from hallucinating. The last time you go back in there is no more water added to the lava rocks and you get a basin to totally wash yourself with. My blood pressure was so low and I was soooooo relaxed that I went home and went right to bed. I think it is the cleanest I have ever felt. I definitely look forward to my next steam.

Also, the 4th grade class went out to pick berries last week. When they returned they made some Agulak, which is what most non-natives call Eskimo Icecream. Equal parts Crisco and sugar and then add what ever berries you have available. These were black berries, which actually look more like blue berries, but a little smaller. Anywho it was pretty tasty. Better than I thought it would be. A little Criscoey aftertaste though. It doesn't melt and run all over your clothes like regular icecream does. Bonus!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Visiting the little people

I have been in Toksook Bay for a solid week now and enjoying it very much. The weather has been dry, which means that you don’t have to wear rubber boots when you step outside your door and people are oot and aboot everywhere. Many women and children are out picking berries, the men are working or doing odd jobs and a couple of people, including myself, go hiking or running.

I’ve climbed the hill behind the village for the past two days in a row now and it was just as spectacular the second time as the first. It’s only about a 4 mile round trip, but would make a pretty strenuous run. There are several 4 wheeler trails that climb the hill, which isn’t very steep for the most part. The trails make me wish that I had my Mtn. bike right here, right now. Of course when it rains, which it does more often than not, it would be a very, very muddy trail.

Near the top of the mountain, it actually gets very characteristic of tundra, meaning the ground is very spongy and there is standing water in places. If you are careful and able to leap from one dry mound to the next, you can keep your feet dry. The structures that you see at the top are 7 – 8 foot tall mounds of rock covered with a yellow/orange lichen, sort of like giant cairns.

Native folklore has it that there are tiny people that live among the holes in the rocky ground. The little people are a mountainous tribe and are known to be tricksters, getting hikers and wanderers lost or disoriented. Sometimes they will reach out of their holes and pull down under ground with them, sort of like leprechauns.

I haven’t seen many people up there from the village, nor have I seen any little people myself. They must stay well hidden.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A quick look at Toksook Bay

Well, after wrestling my way through Blogger and creating a new blog I am back to putting material on the blog.

Here are a couple of photos from town that I took while walking around. A couple of things that I noticed include. Kids will say "Hi" and come up to ask you questions without hesitation. Sometimes they will come right into your house and stay until you tell them they have to go. Over half of the population in the village consists of people between 0 and 18 years in age. Dogs around the village are usually tied up outside to endure the cold, rain, and wind, sometimes without any shelter. Hence, they are tough dogs.

Speaking of tough, I'm having a tough time uploading pictures to my blog, so I apologize for the lack of visuals.

Back to info about Toksook Bay. All roads are dirt, so it's either dusty when it's not raining, or it's really muddy when it is. Right now it is and it will probably continue for another few weeks. Looking at all the skeletons of old snow machines and 4 wheelers and you quickly realize that people don't just throw things away, but pillage parts from things until there is nothing left.

Well, I started getting my room together today and it's been busy busy busy. More information as I get closer to the students arrival on August 21.