Haines, Alaska Bucket List: Take One…
A professional hunter spots mountain goats from the scope on our host cabin deck at Chilkat State Park. Finally, I get to show visitors live mountain goats for a few days, until one day we spot four hunters, gutting 2 goats in the snow above Rainbow glacier…Needless to say, the other goats are now hiding…perhaps a reminder that life is short, so we’d better enjoy while we can!
With about one month left in Haines, Alaska, we’d better get busy doing all the things we have intended. We jump onto a raft that floats down the glacier fed Tsirku River, where water was ice only eight hours ago. This was a free float for the volunteers and supporters of the Bald Eagle Preserve on the anniversary of its inception. This braided river float brings us into the Chilkat River and then to the Native American village of Klukwan, where we are fed potato salad and cold cuts after a traditional ceremonial dance.
Then we find the prized Chanterelle, and pick pounds. Mare brings these and the cauliflower shrooms to the expert in town, who goes by the name of “Fun Guy.” He says, “Those are beautiful chanterelles!”
Fun Guy hesitates. “But those aren’t cauliflowers, they’re corals, which you shouldn’t eat, although some Native Americans use them as a laxative.” Hmm…better stick with the Chanterelles from here on out!
After staring at Davidson Glacier across the Chilkat Inlet for two seasons now, we finally get a chance to get up close and personal. We take flight in a four-seater and cross the Inlet where Drake drops us off on the beach below Davidson Glacier, promising to pick us up eight hours later. Hiking through pristine woods, making noise to keep bears at bay, we follow a well- marked trail.But things change as we get close to the glacier and we have to forge our own trail on cliffs and through the bent Aspen that disappear near Davidson’s base.
We change routes on the way back as a huge, blonde grizzly bear eats in the meadow fifty yards away. When we round a yurt, one of two residences in view, a huge man appears. “I’ve been living here for eight years and have never seen a bear,” he says. “The scat is everywhere, though.” I tell him that maybe he scares them away. He laughs and asks us to send him a photo of Blondie. Drake, the pilot from “FlyDrake”, picks us up as promised and tells us that the yurt man is Mark McManara, a former NBA star, who now gives back as assistant basketball coach at Haines High School.
The next day Halibut are biting! Thanks to “First Choice Charters” we shall dine on Halibut tonight, with a side of Chanterelle soup. Thank you Abundant Universe… www.ronaldgmitchell.com