Yukon River Quest - Page 10
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The post office opened at 10:00 am and I got my mail and headed out of town.  I have 2
boxes in Ft. Yukon 90 miles down stream, but after that, I should have everything planned
out well enough to make it to the ocean with just two more mail stops.

From Circle, I enter the Yukon Flats.  I’ve been worried about the Flats since I started
planning the trip.  The river leaves the confines of the mountains and enters a wide flat
plain.  The river spreads out into hundreds of channels and thousands of islands.  My
fear was that the current in the flats would drop to nearly nothing and make finding the
main channel nearly impossible.  My maps of this section are just plain lousy, so I’ve
been worried about getting lost.

I left Circle and paddled about 20 miles.  The current has been just as fast as the rest of
the river and the main channel has been a piece of cake to stay on.  I’m sure there will be
a few tricky bits, but it’s much better than I’d expected.

I stopped after only 20 miles because I was beat after a 104 mile paddle followed by
almost no sleep, and because I have on of my overly abundant Alaska mail drops in Ft.
Yukon.  If I kept going, I’d get to town on Saturday afternoon and spend two nights in
town.  I wasn’t sure how fast I’d be moving up here, so I sent way too much food at the
beginning.  I’m looking forward to only having 2 post office stops after Ft. Yukon.  They’re
always a hassle.
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I wanted to sleep in this morning, but the sun on the tent was too hot for sleeping.  I was in
the water by 9:30.  This was my first day of navigating the flats.  I started out always
choosing the biggest channel, but ended up dragging across gravel bars. The right way to
do it is always pick the channel with fast water.  That way, all the stuff gets washed out and
the channel is clear.

I did check my GPS a lot.  I’m not sure what I was checking for.  I just like to know right
where I am in the world and my lousy paper maps where one inch equals 22 miles weren’t
doing the trick.  Kelly would be proud of me for embracing my wonderful GPS technology.

My biggest hassle in the flats have been fat buzzing flies that go into orbit around my head
and bite me whenever they get the chance.  I was leaving the ones I’d killed on the deck of
the boat as a warning to the others, but they seemed undeterred.

I’ve set up camp just inside the Arctic Circle near the town of Ft. Yukon.  The Yukon only
stays in the Arctic Circle for about 20 miles, but I get to spend a day up here since I have
mail waiting in town and tomorrow’s Sunday.
Boredom got the better of me this morning and I paddled into Ft. Yukon to see what there is
to do there on a Sunday morning.  The answer is nothing good.

The town seemed to be deserted.  I ran into an old native man walking past some fuel
storage tanks near the river.  I asked him if there was a phone in town I might be able to
use.  He said there was one at the airport if they were open, and pointed me in the right
direction.  Then he asked me if I’d come in off the river.  When I told him I had, he said, “You’
d better watch your shit.”

I walked to the airport.  It was closed, so I kept walking.  I found a school, several churches,
and the post office, but no phone, so I walked back to the airport.  I decided to have a peek
in the window to see if I could spot the phone.  Not only did I see the phone, I saw someone
mopping the floor.  I tapped on the window to ask if I could use the phone.  The guy held the
broom like he was about to thrust it through my heart and started waving towards the
window yelling, “Get out of here; we’re closed!  GO ON!”  I left.

Back on the road, two guys you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley pulled up on a four
wheeler.  I made the mistake of telling them I was alone.  They told me I better watch my
shit and took off.

I was happy to find the boat just as I left it and was looking across the river at a possible
island campsite when I heard a four wheeler pull up and shut off its motor.  My adrenaline
started pumping.  I knew I was about to get robbed.  I jumped in the boat and took off.  
When I looked back, the two deadbeats from the four wheeler were standing on the bank.
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I decided I don’t need my mail from Ft. Yukon and kept paddling.  It started to rain as soon
as I rounded the first bend.  I turned on my GPS to guide me through the maze that is the
Yukon Flats.  The damned thing didn’t work.  It broke at the worst possible point of the
whole trip.  I tried new batteries, hitting and swearing.  Nothing worked, so I pulled out my
trusty compass and tried to follow the channel southwest.  I did pretty well for about an
hour, but ended up in a side channel that kept getting smaller and smaller.  The rain was
pouring down, and I was ready to call it quits at the next town.

Finally, the trickle of water I’d been paddling dumped back into the main channel.  Even
better, the sun came out. I paddled on and every once in a while I saw a flash that looked
like the reflection of a kayak paddle in the distance.  I paddled harder, and sure enough, it
was a kayak.  It took me about an hour to catch up, and when I did, I couldn’t believe it.  It
was Quinton, the South African paddler I’d met before Eagle.
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I'm OK!
Nearest Location:not known
Distance:not known
Time:06/21/2009 20:31:09 (GMT)
Here's where I am.
 Message from Adam's Spotter

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Nearest Location:not known
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Time:06/21/2009 02:26:28 (GMT)
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Time:06/19/2009 21:21:21 (GMT)
Here's where I am.

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