Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Geocaching, Dollies, and the War on Japan

We awoke early again to the sound of Rain falling hard on the tin roof of the cabin.  I was no longer surprised by the relentless downpour but somewhat amused.  I guess I was becoming accustomed to life in the Rainforest.  We looked out the window of the cabin to witness pallets of a  makeshift bridge to one of the smaller cabins afloat in the small lake that had formed on the turnaround a day or so prior.  Our buddy Ben from the lodge stayed in one of these smaller cabins and quickly learned to park his truck up tight to the stairs.  This afforded him the luxury of exiting right from the vehicle onto the deck so as to avoid any major soakers.  It certainly was funny to see a half dozen or so pallets afloat in Lake Happy Hooker bobbing around in the wake from an earlier passing vehicle. 
We had made a pact early on in the week to no longer Duece in our poorly ventilated cabin.   After a near death experience instilled upon us from Red we opted to take advantage of the "no locked doors" policy of the lodge and do our business in style in the now vacant and luxurious cabins 4 and 5.  Don't shit in your own backyard I always say so it only made sense to make the short stroll over to our neighbouring accommodations and get all the deep thinking out of the way in peace prior to driving up to the lodge.  We discussed the mornings options over breakfast.  The lodge was packed this morning as nobody dare float the river.  Some reports were coming in that she had risen  4-5 feet and safe passage wasn't possible.  We certainly were not considering anything of that sort but I suggested we make a trip up to the bridge and see if the river colour had held. 
If she hadn't turned to mud it would be worth a shot.  The Wifi was working at the lodge that morning and Scotty requested we stop in at Bob's  Fly Shop at the old WWII Hanger.  Apparently there were a couple of Geocache sites in Yakutat and one of them resided somewhere over there.  Scotty went on to tell me of his Geocaching hobby and how he had found some on his trip to Thailand.  I couldn't believe it.  I totally knew what he was talking about as Norland went on a similar adventure with a peer when on work travel in Ottawa a few years ago.  The more we talked about it the more obvious it became to me that this was something important to Scott so we had to find this thing.  After leaving breakfast we slipped over to the Hanger to snoop around. 
The Fly Shop was closed so we searched the perimeter in the pouring rain to no avail.  We cut our losses and drove back to the cabin to gear up for a shot at the upper river.  On the way to the bridge we discussed the Geocache sites and the descriptions Scott downloaded from the Internet.  The second cache location in the area hinted around it being hidden in an old sinister beast or something to that affect out towards the coastline.  We arrived at our destination and agreed upon a sight seeing adventure later in the day to see what we could turn up.
The river was now well up into the boat launch and the rocks that we had fished from on Wednesday were completely submerged. 
The colour was moderately tea stained in appearance and for all intensive purposes was still fairly crystal clear.  It certainly was worth a shot.  Red opted for his boat ramp perch.  The other side was occupied by another angler so Scotty and I decided to hike up and see if we could locate any fishable water.  The river was large and any chance of crossing her on this day would certainly be met with grim results.  I was still holding faith and suggested we continue on up stream to the location we had fished on our arrival day.  I had remembered a fairly large fallen tree upstream of the run and was hoping it would provide enough refuge to hold some fish.  The location was a little off the beaten path and required some back tracking off of the main trail.
I was pretty confident nobody would had fished it this morning.  The rain appeared to have had little impact on the snow base as the hike back was still as difficult as I had remembered it a few days prior.  As suspected the run was vacant.  The tree was indeed breaking up the river flow and visually appeared to have a nice slack water section behind her.  There was a giant limbless Sitka Spruce trunk that ran semi-parallel to the river bank.  When we last fished here this tree was completely out of the water and well above my waist on the top side.  I remembered having to slide over it to access the river.  It was now underwater by an inch or so and provided a means to lean against while a fished the current break.  I dare not attempt to slide over the log on this day. 
Prior to leaving the cabin I had stepped up my rig in anticipation of the huge spike in flow.  I went with an 11 gm Drennan Zeppler so I could load up the shot to get down quick.  If we were going to have any chance at success we would certainly have to get our offering down fast.  I decided to go with a bright fluorescent orange 10mm bead to stand out in the tea stained flow.  If it was going to work I figured it would have to be bright and leave no room for interpretation.  I made a short pitch to the slack and watched my float start to work through the run down toward the tip of the giant sitka some 40-50 ft down river before retrieving it and readjusting my depth.  The second throw was on the same line and met with a quick take.  I set up and was shocked to feel the GLX thumping in my hands. 

With the large flow I wasn't sure if I had a smaller steelhead or a Dolly but soon found out it was the latter.  It was very encouraging to have found success in these extreme conditions.  After some pics I released the fish and readjusted my rig before making another throw. In an hours time I managed to pick up 5 more Dollys while Scotty found a couple as well.  The highlight was a large buck in the 3lb range pushing 17-18".    It was quite an accomplishment considering the river was unfishable by everyones account.  I could catch those silver shakers all day.  The ocean run fish fight to no end and are alot of fun on the long rods.  We were now completely soaked and decided to double back and see if the bridge hole was now unoccupied. 
Arriving back at the road we discovered it was now abandoned so I readjusted my lead length to 13' and started to pick away at raging mess that lay before me.  It was nowhere near recognizable from Wednesday.  Everything had changed and it was hard finding a decent line to float that looked like it would hold some fish.  Red had indicated he hooked into one earlier on but lost it as it shot up past the abutment and came unbuttoned.  We fished it hard for another half hour to no avail and decided it was time to hit the cabin for a change of clothes and then the lodge for lunch prior to some local sightseeing and Geocaching.

The lodge was a busy place that afternoon over lunch time.  There were lots of new faces in the restaurant and a sense of urgency.  I had overheard one party state they were remote camping on the river and decided pull the plug out of fear of being stranded.  Some parties were cutting their trips short and flying out later that afternoon.  At one point I had  heard mention that a section of the Lost River road down to the take out had become overcome by water.  The rains had certainly made life exciting and interesting in Yakutat. A short while later Ben walked into the dining room and I captured his attention.  I asked him about the old "big Gun" installation that was left behind from the War and how we could find it.  We had a sneaking suspicion that the geocache was located in the vicinity of the Gun so after filling our faces we set out in the Econoline  on a mission. 
The Gun was located down at Cannon beach so that was our intended destination.  There is an underlying theme when driving on unpaved roads in the Yakutat region...potholes... and Cannon beach road had no shortage of them.  The ditches were near capacity and best resembled rivers from what was now day 4 of the deluge.  We cleared some scrub bush before the landscape opened up into a giant marshland and then re-entered the Spruce forest as we neared the beach.  As most of the Spruce forest is up there everything was completely covered in moss.  There appeared to be an open park area to our right with a timber framed pavilion and some picnic tables.  In the back corner was a giant World War II Tracked vessel that resembled an Armoured Personal Carrier.  This had to be the Sinister Creature Scott's Geocache site refereed to. 
Directly ahead of us the road ended at the beach and we could see and hear the giant surf crashing along the coast.  There was a two track road that ran parallel to the beach up on the ridge.  It was nothing formal but more of a  Redneck highway of sorts and very questionable in appearance.  The worrier in Red instantly began to express his concerns and went on to advise us  that we should not take the van any further in fear of getting stuck.  Reds inner fears only intensified our curiosities so there was no turning back now and away down the sandy two track we went.  Red expressed is disagreement as he fell back into his seat.  We didn't travel far before the giant old gun came to our attention nestled back in the trees in full view of the ocean.  Half of the barrel had somehow broken off at some point in time and lay on the ground off to the side on the concrete base.  
It must have been a deliberate measure to decommission the weapon as I couldn't fathom how that giant mass of metal had broken on its own accord.  It certainly was an impressive piece of History and a reminder that the world was once a more hostile place than it is now.  Its hard to believe that the threat of survival and freedoms as we know them were ultimately on the line and such dire measures were necessary in some of the most remote locations of the world.  Nothing speaks to the harshness and extreme elements of Alaska than the Coastline on a stormy day.  There is a sense of  destitute and isolation that cannot be explained.  It would almost be effortless to get ones self in a huge predicament if things marginally began to get off track and it can be easy to forget this fact.  Scotty could now see the old Armoured Personal Carrier through the trees and had one thing on his mind...locating that Geocache. 
He told us he was going to hike over and have a look for it while we drove the van back around.  Red and myself made a b-line for the van and reprieve from the pounding rain.  I started my three point turn when I felt the rear wheels dig in.  I knew enough to go slow and evaluate the situation but the tires dug too deep.  I think old Red thought we sold the farm because he was out of the van evaluating the situation in record time.  I wasn't about to panic so I threw the van in park and hopped out looking for some traction assistance.  I couldn't have been out of the van no more than 4-5 seconds when I spotted exactly what I needed.  A 3' long plank of slab wood about 8"-10" wide and a few inches thick partially sticking up from the sand.  It was a weird moment for me.  I stopped questioning the weird things that happen in life and have learned to go with the flow but it was strange how exactly what I needed lay directly in front of my very eyes. 
I walked over and grabbed the slab while Red paced behind the van.  I jammed it under the back tire and gave it a healthy kick for good measure.  I jumped in the van and used my Canadian Winter driving skills.  After a few rocking motions she grabbed and we were free, clear, and on our way to meet Scotty.  Red went on to say he thought were were screwed for certain but that had gone without saying through his anxious mannerisms.  My father instilled in me a long time ago that there is always a fix to every problem and to never give up. Becoming stranded and stuck was never really an option for me.  I was just amazed at how quickly we got unstuck.  Maybe beer gives you super human powers...i dunno...I'll have to research that one some more.  We parked the van by the trail leading to the Armoured carrier and I hiked over to check it out with Scotty.  He was like a kid at the playground and I found him climbing all over the thing in search of the hidden cache. 
I started to take my typical series of pics when Scott yelled out that he had found the Geocache.  There was no mistaking his excitement as he posed for a picture holding his prize.  He opened it up and signed his user name and date of discovery  prior to resealing the container and putting it back in it's hiding spot.  He went on to tell me he would update his info online later at the  Geocaching website when he was back home.  It was another small victory for the trip and funny to think we flew all the way across North America to chase fish and ended up searching for tiny hidden pieces of paper.  It was perfect because we managed to catch a few fish earlier in the day, see some cool pieces of History,  Scott was happy to find a geocache for his collection, and Red was happy we didn't die stranded  on the beach lol!!!  Everybody won!!! 
We drove back into town and hit the Fly Shop in hopes it was now open and get another shot at locating that cache.  The shop was busy with new fisherman from the mornings flight looking to kill time and get info on the predicted river conditions for the upcoming days.  I have to say the shop is very well stocked and considering we were in the middle of nowhere Alaska it kicked some serious retail a$$.  We had no luck locating the Geocache and decided to cut our losses and return to the cabin for a few beers before dinner.  It continued raining all afternoon and into the evening.  Ben stopped by for a beer later that night and we talked about  Lodge Life of an employee, Oregon, Music, and MMA.  The weeks adventures were catching up with us and it was apparent an early night was in order.  When we went to bed the rains were still falling...


Trotsky said...

See definition # 3...


Trotsky said...

Just finished reading... I am speechless..
Just so I am clear,...are you guys all 'Out' now...
You guys should post some co ordinates to your chocolates starfishies on the net for all the sodomites to pursue..
And you want me in on this in years to come????!!!
Verily I say unto thee...I shall pass..
I choose Vagina

lambton said...

From a guy that drinks Lemon Shandy beer...
Get out of the closet already Norland!

Steeliemax said...

I would of been happy to sit in the cabin drink beer like man play card swea,r all that manly stuff but Brian and Scott wanted to geo-cash like the skirts they are lol. I hear you Norland.

lambton said...

We should have Geocached Red and threw away the coordinates.
I know that mfer had Cheese Burgers and Onions Rings for dinner the day prior!