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Manaq: Ice fishing

Monday, May 11th, 2009

pike.jpg While break-up season is definitely underway, there is still a bit of ice and snow about.  The frozen-solid Johnson River had been covered with a few inches of water for a few days before the solid ice layer was able to float to the surface.  That floating ice then became a snowgo trail and has been good for about a week now – although traveling on it is becoming more and more risky each day. But Thursday after school I took the school snowgo and with another teacher on back, cruised down the river and met up with some of the locals to go jigging for pike.  Sonya, the other teacher caught 3 within 5 minutes.

groupmanaq.jpgsonya.jpg [read on]

Time To Break Up

Monday, May 11th, 2009

ski.jpgI’ve lived in Alaska most of my adult life and absolutely love winter, but I’ve never experienced the season hang on as long as this one.   On April 24 I skied from Akiuk School to my home in Nunapitchuk.  While the snow was soft in the afternoon, it was still getting close to 0 F at night.  But then things just changed like that.  By Saturday morning, the snow cover on the river changed to slush.  By mid-afternoon, the slush had turned to a few inches of water.  There was still a few feet of ice below the water, but the overflow now made the commute practically impossible.  Break-up season had begun.

slough3.jpg By the time I finished my second cup of coffee on Sunday, I knew that I had to move back to the school by mid-morning if I hoped to haul my stuff in a freight sled behind a snow go.  I put my skis on and skirted the river’s edge until I came to the tundra trail to Akula.  The skiing on it was actually not too bad.  Just before Akula, I had to cross a couple of lakes that were each a couple of hundred yards across – but the snow trail, while thin, was still good.  I then was able to follow the trail to Akiuk. By the time I got to school, fired up the snowgo and hooked the sled up and then retraced my route, the snow trail across the lakes had turned to slush.  By the time I got back to Nunap, loaded my gear and supplies in the sled and returned to Akiuk, the slush was now a few inches of water.  I had never skimmed a snowgo over water and I now had a heavy sled to deal with too, so I just cranked the throttle and blasted my way over.  No problem!