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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!Image

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.Image

Let’s pick some wild mushrooms, which grow like mad…Ah, the cauliflower mushroom makes a great meal, for me. Mare waits to see if I die before taking a few bites.Image

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!”Image

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!Image

What a unique life…wake up to a Moose and calf in our yard, followed by a Grizzly Bear visit, while Bald Eagles watch from above.Image

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.ImageBut 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.Image

We negotiate a large lake full of ice chunks. Me, not as well, as I fall into the cold water waist-high before finally reaching the blue ice.ImageImage

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.Image

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.comImage

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. mark Stodola #

    Amazing. We wish we were there. Anxious to hear what’s next on the bucket list!

    August 19, 2012
    • Hey, Mark we wish youy were here too. Sounds like you guys are doing some trememdous travel as well!

      August 19, 2012
  2. Carole Cruson #

    Great pics guys. You sure know how to pack everything to your life and keep great records and pics to share. Nicole and boys arrive by car tomorrow and will be here a few days. We spent all afternoon and evening with Anna and Aaron here in Golden yesterday; they are great. Keep safe and good look in Mingo Ron and on the road – Marilynn and Pat.

    Love, Carole

    August 19, 2012
  3. Wonderful! (not getting wet up to your waist though). Those chanterelles look beautiful. I like to roast or sautee with scrambled eggs n good Italian formaggio.

    August 19, 2012
  4. Michael Fink #

    Nice site and awesome photos! If (or when), I finally plan a trip up to your part of the world, I’ll definitely get in touch.
    Also, the next time you cross paths with Mark, please tell him that that goofy California volleyball player he met in Livorno, Italia says hello. I hope he’s happy up there in the last frontier and having fun teaching kids how to post up like a big man.
    Much obliged.
    Message sent from the Swiss alps.

    February 9, 2017

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