Yukon River Quest - Page 9
The machine was amazing. It was built in 1924 and ran on and off until the 1970’s. It
was open to the public, and I was free to wander around. The whole thing was run by a
giant Atlas 4 cylinder diesel engine. Instead of driving a generator like a modern
machine, it ran a giant belt. Everything ran off of shafts, gears and pulleys.
The wind had pickup up while I was off the water. It wasn’t really bad, but it was certainly
paddle in to get my mail in the morning, but I still felt pretty good with 20 miles to go, so I
pushed on into town.
I don’t like to camp in town if I can help it. There’s a lot that can go wrong with the locals
at night, but I have to admit I really wanted to call Kelly, and that’s what drove me on.
There was a giant chain and steel brackets on it that scooped up material. It then ran
through a series of screens and sluices to separate out the gold. It ranked right up with
Fort Selkirk. My only regret is that I didn’t bring more film up with me.
I walked up from the river into Circle, and the town appeared to be deserted. There was a
café, a store and a giant hotel, all shut and boarded up. I walked farther into town, and
found a general store that was just closed for the night, not forever. They had a payphone
out front where I was able to call Kelly.
The owners of the store were drinking beer on their deck, so I asked them if they’d open
up for just a minute so I could get a cold beer. They were happy to help me. They didn’t
have any good beer, but it was cold.
Now I’m back at my boat ramp camp. This isn’t a very good place to be. Hopefully, I won’t
be bothered tonight.
After talking to Kelly on the phone last night, I went back to my campsite by the boat ramp
and fell right asleep. 104 miles of paddling had worn me out. I woke up at 3:00 AM to the
sound of a truck driving down the ramp. The truck proceeded to drive off the ramp and onto
the muddy bank where it quickly got stuck.
I laid in the tent for half an hour listening to the motor running and the tires spinning before
the truck finally freed itself. The truck pulled back on the ramp and stopped near my tent. I
guy and a girl got out. Both were natives in their early twenties, and both were quite drunk.
The guy started walking towards my tent, while the girl was pulling on his shirt and saying,
“Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t, don’t!”
I didn’t know what she didn’t want him to do, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to find out. I
took the safety off my can of bear spray and held it out of the rain fly of the tent. The guy kept
coming. I really thought I was going to have to mace the guy, but when he got about 15 feet
from the tent, he turned and walked back to his truck. He took off up the boat ramp spraying
rocks on my tent. Needless to say, I didn’t get any more sleep. That’s why I try not to camp
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Time:06/19/2009 06:13:55 (GMT)
Here's where I am.