Sitka Gear
Alaska - 2003


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Hard to believe, but the weater was getting worse. Rains had pounded our cabin all night. Johnnie and I drove to the docks to check the canal. Despite the rains, the canal was relatively calm. But the cold and wet would make the long trip down the canal dangerous - especially if the winds picked up while we were far from port. Johnnies' boat was a small 16' skiff - hardly seaworthy for anything but calm waters.

We discussed options and checked the forecast several times that day. The news was all bad. The rains were to increase over the next several days and then turn extremely windy by the end of the week. When I got a chance to see the forecast, I mentioned to Johnnie that the radar image of the storm looked just like a hurricane. His reply; "that's what you guys call them down there. We just call it Weather "

Wind prevented us from exploring options down the canal. Increasing rains made the salmon creek and our beaver swamp impossible to wade across. Everything was looking bad.

As the rains continued, Johnnie read his tide book and got one last weather report. He made a radical suggestion. "Want to try the canal" he asked? "You bet" I replied.

Johnnie took no chances. We donned Mustang survival suits - designed for Alaska fisherman, they keep you alive longer and floating if you go into the water. At the very least, they are warm and provide protection from the harsh Coastal Alaskan weather. I can tell you the only drawback is mobility - as Johnnie put it - "you look like the 'Pillsbury Dough Boy'."

By 3 PM we were motoring down the canal to Glacier bay. A long grassy beach where brown bears feed on salmon and vegetation. We glassed the beach but found no bears.

We continued down several more beaches along the canal, stopping at various spots to check for bear sign. We found none. On the way home we were accompanied by porpoises. Attracted to the buzz of our motor, they jumped out of the water alongside our boat. I knew I should have brought a fish arrow.

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Alaska at it's finest. Porpoises jump alongside our small skiff.
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While our canal trip was uneventful, it did satisfy our curiousity about some of the Canal options. We headed back home just before dark. Rain had turned to sleet, and the cold ice stung like bees - against exposed skin. Johnnie, needing to see where he was going, shielded his face with his glove. I turned my back to the wind and let the ice pellets beat against my mustang suit. The winds picked up and the rains steadily increased all night.

As I lay in my bed, the rain and sleet continued to pound our little cabin. We hung on every weather report - hoping for a short term break. But there appeared to be none. The marine forecast called for building weather and more rain. 100 percent chance of heavy percipitation for the next 5 days. Things look bleak.



Next - Day 5

Our grizzly hunt takes place in Southeast Alaska with Johnnie Laird of Muskeg Excursions.

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