I turned right to find the Slikok Creek were I hopefully find lots of Chinook Salmon ready for spawning. This park offers two trails. One goes direct down to the Kenai River and the other goes down to the bottom of the Slikok Creek with a little stream. I checked both out prior to carry all the heavy video gear along. In the Slikok stream I spotted two big Salmons. I went back to the car and got the underwater, camera and all the other gear down to the stream. I have dressed up with the swim trousers and than I’ve made the step into the freezing cold water. The two fishes did not like my presence and rushed off. I waited 2 hours in the water in order to get a shoot of them but they have not returned, meanwhile my feed got limp because of the bitterly cold water. After this experience I went on the road to Homer. The sun broke through and it got pleasant warm, just about 20° Celsius, usually it is 10 -15 °. The Sterling Hwy finally gets to where it’s going, and it’s not Sterling, it’s Homer. The Hwy sweeps down a hill along the bay, bypassing the older part of town, and runs on to Homer Spit. Waves crash against the Spit. Seagulls and eagles rise and fall. The wind blows strong. I looked around in the busy harbor and saw small boats getting out to the sea, other coming in loaded with Salmon and Halibut. In the harbor there are many fish cleaning stations to get the good parts off and the rest back into the sea.
to the place I have seen the girls with the gun a few days ago. First I went down the creek to investigate what goes on. It looked that I had a good chance to film some Salmons coming up the small river. I got the underwater camera and placed the housing in the middle of the river. The girls showed up again to get the Salmon in the trap. They told me that this area is closed for visitors and fishers; there were also lots of bears roaming up and down the river. Well, I told them that I was doing a film about Salmon and only in this river the water is clear enough to do it. It was accepted and I could carry on with the knowledge that no one would disturb me. While I was concentrated on the fish, a black bear looked out of the bush, sniffed the air and looked to me, it was just great to film. It was not sure what to do and backed out. I was sure he would come again and set the second camera to the spot he had first appeared. Yes he came back and at this time with a little more confidence. He made it into the water but he was still too scared for fishing and went away to the other side of the river. When I had all the underwater footage I was carrying the camera back to the car and at just that same moment a Grizzly with three cups crossed the road to go down the river. I still had the other camera in the middle of the river on a tripod. How lucky I am! I rushed doing a big bow around the creek going down to the camera to be ready when the family arrives for the evening meal. Almost ready then a big rush and charge and the Grizzly mom stood upright in front of me. As quick as she charged she was back in the bush and disappeared further down where the river made a curve. I could not see her; I only heard the water splashing and her grunting. It was wise to live her along and be happy with the black bear shots.
the trail to the Russian River Falls. Since I had been here before I knew what I wanted to get on to the video tape. I started from the bottom getting slowly up to the falls and river to the outlet from the Lake. Here at the outlet there had been lots of Salmon a few days ago but now none! Is the run already over? I read in the paper: “Red Salmon are plentiful. There are two sockeye runs a year, one in mid-June, and the other in mid-July.” Even without the fishes it was still beautiful and interesting.
it poured down almost the whole day. I was in Seward in a coffee shop with internet connection working on the July news. Late in the afternoon the rain stopped and I drove to the nearby Exit Glacier Park. Here is some good short trail to get almost in touch with the ice field. I did these trails with lots of informative boards. There is also a steeper 4.1 mile one way trail to the Harding Ice field; it follows the glacier’s flank to an overlook of the ice field. I decided to do this on the next day, if the weather permits. I parked for the night close to the park, just in case of good weather.
7.00 am I was ready to hike up to the top of the ice field about 1100 meter. The hike goes through a different vegetation zone, forest, bush, alpine grass, flowers, Horay Marmot , rocks, snow and finally the ice field. I had all morning the glacier for myself. Then another people showed up. By this time I had all the good shots from the marmot and the surrounding without tourists in the picture. It was a hard day, climbing up and down to get views from different angle but I felt very happy.
Anchorage I stopped at two salmon spawning points. At the first I used the big underwater camera to get the beautiful red salmon on film, unfortunately there were not a lot present. The other spot was on the road to the Portage Glacier where I had been before. Also here only a few salmon had been present. Here I used the small Hero camera fixed on a long stick to hold it down to the water in front of the salmon. I would see later how it looks. A few miles short off Anchorage I packed my equipment and climbed up the mountain to get to the mountain goats. I saw one on the edge of a cliff split from me through a creek. There was no chance to get over to the goats side. At night I parked at the big parking lot of “Fred Meyer” food store.
a few miles outside Palmer. I hoped to get what I wanted, some close-up shots from this rarer animal. I had to go with a tour. What I have seen was far from what I expected. The animals do not live a life in a group, males, females and calves are all separated. The horns are cut and the fur is regular brushed to harvest the wool. This wool is 8 times warmer then sheep wool and will not shrink when washed warm. Unfortunately the knitted products made from Native Alaskan are very expensive. In the afternoon I went a second time up to the top of Hatcher Pass. At this time I was concentrating on the ground squirrels "Gopher". They have once fooled me so much during spring time. I was ready to wait 3 hours at one of their dens. Yes they came out and I could film them!
back to Valdez stopping at the Matanuska Glacier where you need to pay to hike around. This pissed me off. Why should I pay? I went to the Worthington Glacier 28 mile from Valdez and here you may go as you like no restrictions at all.
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car issues had to be solved, insurance and registration. The insurance part handled by Mr. Nowag in Germany was a piece of cake in other words very quick and smooth done. To register a new car, was a pain in the ass. Jeff did his best, but this was not enough. It will take approximately 6 weeks. The number plates will be send to Haines Jc. in Canada. In the main time I was out at the creek behind the power station filming salmon in the stream, seagull picking fish egg out of the water and by chance eyes out to the passing salmon. One day a black bear was present but when I came with the camera he rushed off to the nearest big spruce and climbed up. He came down about an hour later when I packed the camera and got to my car. Soon his nose looked out of the bush sniffing for clear air. When he felt secure he came out to the opening for fishing. These black bears are gourmets, only the caviar is good enough for them. They catch a salmon, bring it to shore then squeeze the fish with both pranks like a tooth tube. Not every salmon is a female, but the bear rapidly finds out, let it there and goes for the next salmon. I had been at this place for many hours and enjoyed pure nature.
night in “Oldlandy”. The Patriot was packed and the Christmas box hooked up. I went once more to the creek behind the power station. Black bears had been there but it was misty therefore not good for any picture. It was the first time with the trailer behind, I would have to get up 2678 ft to the Thompson Pass, a beautiful alpine area and I was lucky to have sunshine. With steady 40 miles I run the pass, the fuel consumption climbed to 11.5 l/100km. At mile 91 I turned right into the Old Richardson Hwy to get to the cabin of Khim and Jeff. Khim was here with Ginger, Grace and the dogs Bell and Tok. They had left Valdez the day before and I missed to say goodbye. I came to say many thanks for the great help and hospitality that I have received for more than a month. Without this help I would not be able to get on with my trip.
I stopped at the bridge over Tok River for the night to rest. It was the first time I’ve used the outdoor kitchen to cook my evening meal. The roof tent was quick wind-up and ready to have a rest, but the sunset was so beautiful that I watched the clouds getting red till dark.
sunny morning, excellent light for beautiful shots along the highway to Tok. In Tok I visited the Information Center to inquire about the road condition and any restriction to get to the border to Canada. The road had been severely damage, parts washed away from Chicken to mile 95, and the turn off to Eagle, four weeks ago. Now the road is passable in two convey led by a truck driver, at 8:00 am and noon. I planned to get to Chicken for the noon run. It was 12:00 noon sharp when the convey got on the way, from mile 77 to mile 95 we needed 2 hours. It was a bumpy dusty road leading through a beautiful scenery landscape. From mile 95 to the border there were still 9 mile. The passport and car documents were handed over and a few questions answered and I was cleared to proceed. Back again on the Top of the World Hwy, I had a break at the summit of the road, waiting until the last vehicle had passed the summit and disappeared down the pass in a cloud of dust in the far horizon. From now on till next morning 10 am I would be completely alone up here. But this was not the highest point. The old road leads over the highest. I hiked this road to check the condition. Step and some stretches washed out. This will be a good performance test for the Patriot. Well we made it to the top. The sun was shining on a clear sky and a slight breeze was blowing. I’ve cooked my daily meal and truly enjoyed the whole setup and quietness.
I felt very happy riding on the "Top of the World" down to Dawson City stopping here and there to capture the spectacular scenery. In Dawson City I had to go shopping for grocery for the next ten days which I intend to be on the “Dempster Hwy”. The “Dempster” as this Hwy is called everywhere, starts 40 km out of Dawson City towards Whitehorse.
A few notes about the “Dempster”: Length 456 miles (734km), road surface: gravel, season: open all year. The “Dempster” offers hiking, camping, fishing, abundant wildlife and spectacular photo opportunities and has a reputation as a birders paradise. The construction of the “Dempster” began in 1959 and was finally completed in 1978, although it did not officially open until the Discovery Day weekend in 1979. The “Dempster” road is made mostly of gravel with the first and last few km paved. There are stretches of clay surface that can be slippery in wet weather and on winter. Summer driving conditions varies depending on weather and maintenance. Generally, the road conditions range from fair to excellent. But heavy truck traffic can erode both road and base surfacing, resulting in areas of rough road. Calcium chloride is used to reduce dust and as a bonding agent. Facilities are still few and far on the “Dempster”, the first gas station is 369km (229 miles).
I’ve filled up the car as well as the two canisters with petrol to the edge, and I’ve made an inspection around the vehicle, I looked forward to the oncoming drive. The day was so beautiful and warm to get out of the car at the next good gravel pit to park. I’ve packed my equipment and hiked into the bush, up the mountain ready for wildlife viewing. High up out of the bushes and forest I bedded myself into the soft mosses and had a good rest. Some birds were chatting and a few bugs singing that was all the noises to be heard. I still have not seen any wildlife but enjoyed the hiking through the wild. Soon I entered the “Tombstone Territorial Park” driving up to the highest point on the “Dempster” the North Fork Pass Summit, 4256ft / 1300m. A few miles down the pass at 55 miles a big gravel area invited me to stay overnight. It was surrounded by beautiful nature. I cooked and prepared for the night then a short rain cooled the warm day down.
overcast with some sparks of sunshine. Here and there I stopped for beauty shots driving slowly 40 km so I do not miss any wildlife close to the road. I camped at the Arctic Circle for the night.
The main physical characteristic of the arctic are the extreme differences between the seasons, and the low levels of solar energy. Because of the earth’s curve, sunlight strikes the arctic at a different angle than near the equator and the energy within those rays is spread over a larger area. This lowers the amount of available heat. Solar energy is also lost when rays bounce off of the atmosphere and still more is absorbed by the greater distance it must travel through the atmosphere. When the ground is covered with snow and ice – a highly reflective surface – up to 80% of the solar energy is reflected back into space. If it were not for warmth redistributed from other parts of the earth by air movements and ocean currents, arctic winter would be even colder than they are now. By summer, however, as much solar energy is received in one 24-hour sunlight period as is received at the equator during its 12-hour day. Plant growth is greatly enhanced during the brief arctic summer. In the far north, on days in which the sun rises and sets, it does so at a shallow angle to the horizon. This makes for long periods of dawn and dusk, resulting in summer days that appear to be longer than winter nights.
Soon it started raining. Have you noticed it is one year gone since I left Berlin? Will I get down to Tierra del Fuego in four years?
then I got out of the tent packed and got on the way. The gravel road now changed to a muddy slippery tack. Not long and it started to rain again. At the horizon I could see some blue spots in the dark sky. Eventually the rain stopped, and so did I to get a shot on the dark clouds. I got out of the car, what I heard – psssssssss – I followed the sound and ended up at the rear tire. The air blew out through a punched hole from a sharp gravel stone. I looked long at this mess, nothing could be touched, and there was mud all over. I still had to change the tire. Now I hope “Murphy” is on vacation and I will make the 300km to Inuvik, which is the next possible place to get a new tire. The first big disadvantage of this new car is that I cannot repair the tire as I could on the “Oldlandy”, besides that a new tire will cost me some dollars. Further on the road dried up, and got so dusty that I had to stop when a big truck passed instead of driving blind. It had to be crossed three rivers by a ferry, the Peel, and at the fork of Arctic Red and Mackenzie. It had passed about 30 miles after the last crossing when I found a little lake accessible with an off-road vehicle. It was another perfect night stop. I watched the sunset and filmed it with time interval. The sun eventually disappeared at the horizon but it did not really got dark. A small reddish band remained at the horizon through the whole night.
rising early in the morning from the roof tent. In the early sunshine I continued driving north to Inuvik. In Inuvik I had to get my tire replace or if possible repaired. A sharp stone caused the problem. I asked the man if he could repair it, his answer is “You’ve got the best man in town for this job”, smiled and started the repair. Then just next door neighbor they had high pressure equipment so I could clean the whole rig. The calcium used on the road is very acid to metal and paint. Inuvik is a new town. Tours (flight, canoe) are offered to get to parks and villages further north, because the road ends here. Only in the winter it is possible to drive on to Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk at the Beaufort Sea. This will be on the famous ice road. In Inuvik May 24th marks 57 days of midnight sun. The sun begins to set on July 19th; on December 6th, the sun sets and does not rise until January 6th. I walked on the city and around the nearby lake. After this walking in the warm sun I made my way out of the city the on the same road back as I came up but now south.
over the land the temperature dropped down to 6° Celsius. Words sprayed around that a small caribou herd with brown bear followers have been seen around the border of Northwest Territories and Yukon are Territories toward Eagle Plains. This is the stretch when I came up north was raining and terrible muddy. This time it was partly cloudy with sunshine. With the binocular I could see some caribou, too faraway to get close. Then I saw a brown bear about 500 m away from the road. This is my bear; got the hiking boots and a additional jacked on, the camera as well as the wind direction checked I moved towards the bear against the wind through the tundra.
The tundra begins where the trees end. Sedges, grasses, mosses, lichens and srubs dominate this so-called barren landscape of the Blackstone Uplands.
Climate and permafrost affect vegetation growth in tundra regions. Soil are water logged and the active layer is offen too shallow to suppport tree growth. winter and summer temperatures range between - 50° and 30° (-58F and 86F). Challanges to plant life in this area include short summer, low percipitation and possibility of frost on any given day.
I managed to get pretty close for good footages. The bear was eating one of his favored food, black berries. As he moved down towards the gravel road I followed him, got into the car and waited. The bear was now walking on the road and I drove beside him along for quite a bit. Then something curious happened, he heard some ravens, doing funny noises, he started running up the slope, stopped sniffed into the wind and trotted on. I saw a gathering of ravens nothing else. Ok time to go and checkout what goes on out there? The bear is in front and I am behind him. As we came closer to the ravens gathering, the bear stooped as I did, another grizzly much bigger one, was laying in the grass. It was time to film, now he got up to his feet coming slowly towards me than he stayed in full size on his hint leg. He was not happy with me and the other bear, he made the point clear. We both got a little back and he relaxed. The little bear finally trotted away and the big got again down to the ground and was eating his meal, caribou, while I was watching him doing so. I really got some excitement with grizzlies fairly close. At the Rock River Campground in the forest I cooked my daily meal, this time pasta with sauces. For the night I stopped again at the Arctic Circle parking lot.
pleasant summer temperature to 0° Celsius and overcast as far I could see. The whole day was a stop and go, trying to get the different sceneries and vegetation on Video. Wildlife did not showed up close to the “Dempster”. The night place is another beautiful spot by the Black River.
soon up north, the temperature this morning is -1°Celsius, and still overcast. Slowly I move up to the North Fork Pass. From here a hiking trail leads up to Black mountain top. I cold wind blows over the tundra so I had to dress up wearing cap and cloves. The hike started moderate through some bush land then got stepper and stepper into rock and gravel, not much to see of a trail. On the top it was a stoning view around. Then I heard quite piping following this sound a group of Rock Ptarmigans walked the place picking grass seed from the ground. I had them that close to pad them. I felt extremely happy up here by myself with these chicks. Fog started to race up and even some flocks of snow came down from the dark clouds, time to make my way down before I really got wet. I got down to the car just on time because it started raining. The gravel road turned to a slippery mass. I drove slowly to the pass to 58.6 km the hiking trail to Grizzly Lake an 11 km with 1000 m height hike. I did the first half of it but the rain would not stop, so I returned to the car. It did not look as the weather would get better so I carried on to Dawson City.
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exactly up the Bonanza Creek, is one of the monster dredger which was in operation till 1959. It is very impressive to see how there were mining to whole creek up. There are hourly tours to get into the dredger. After this a film was showed from the time this very dredger was in operation. The reason why they stopped working, was the drop of the gold price, so the total operation was abounded, living the machinery in operation condition behind. From here I went to the claim 33 to learn how to pan gold. I quickly got some flocks out of the gravel. I went back to town and both a pan and prepared to go for the big strike next day.
fitted with shovel and pan I got up to the end of Bonanza Creek there is a public claim. Where shall I start it’s like doing lottery. I paned a few load without a single flock or nugget of gold. I must do something wrong. I went to claim 33 and asked the woman who though me the day before the procedure. She looked at my newly both pan and said with this I may pan for the rest of my live and will never get gold. The pan has a small film of oil on the surface from the production and this causes that the gold will swims out of the pan. Anyway I had enough, this is not my thing.
to get to Faro City via Carmacks. In Carmacks at the bridge over the Yukon I checked out the beaver den I filmed in spring time, but of course the beavers where not out during day time. Faro City used to be a busy town during the mining area. Now it looks as it is deserted; only a few live here. Faro is well known by the birders, every year in spring and autumn the sand hill crane emigration through this area in the thousand. Stop here to feed on the way north/south journey.
temperature was – 5° Celsius and I had to scratch the car’s windshield. In Ross River I had to really fill up with petrol, the north Canol Road gets right up to the border of North West Territories. Here somewhere close to the MacMillan Pass is the Fuller Lake. At the outlet of this Lake some years ago, my dear friend Roli with partner was building a blog cabin. I intent to pay a visit to check out the momentary condition of the cab. With a ferry the Ross River had to be crossed. From there on I would not call the rack a road anymore. This track winds his way up down along the river through mud and potholes. After about 200 km so I figurate out with the GPS, I am close enough to walk through the bush and scrub heading direction Itsi Mountain to find the lake. I set up the camp and cooked. A truck came by with and I could ask about the lake. They successes that I should drive another 20 km further north. Before I went to bed I punched the coordinates into the GPS to be read for the hike.
sunny day just right for the hike. I drove this 20 km recommended parked in a gravel yard. Got a few essential into the backpack and headed straight into the burned forest. It was an easy walk at the beginning where the forest was burned down but it got tuff and wet in the high scrub. I had to cross small creeks with water and I watched carefully to keep my boots dry. Since I do not have a topographic map for the GPS, I had no idea what to expect. Well I came to the big MacMillan River. How do I get over this stream? As far up and down I could see it did not looked good. I cramped my trousers up and walked into the icy water until I had it up almost to my hip. I backed out since I knew to get back to the car I had to cross again. I plowed my way through along the river downstream to hit somewhere the track bridge over the river. After 6 hours hiking I was back by the car. There the Natives I asked about the Fuller Lake had been cutting dead wood for their camp. I told them about my hike and that I did not see any wildlife up to now. They invited me to come to their camp another 35 km up the track. Up there they hunt Caribou, Moose, Whistlers and Gopher.
I learned a lot about the Native or First Nation call people. How they live and hunt, because autumn is the premier hunting season. As everything changed in live so has also the hunting style. No really walking and sneak close to the game for the kill. Four-wheeler (ATV), or Argo (amphibic vehicle) are used. With this modern transport they get everywhere, river bush rocks and hill. The Caribous are very curious and run not away when the hunters come motorizes. In contrary when I walk to get a good close camera shot, they run. Only male are allowed to be shoot. The killed game is butchered right away in the field and loaded on to the vehicle. Everything will be used and eaten including the guts. The meat at the camp is proper cut and then hanged up to smoke and dry it in the wind. Some is now also deep free zed. Deep freezer and power generator is part of the modern camp.
In return that I get in seen into their life, I show videos in the evening from my wildlife sequences I made so far. But before I would start a clip, they had to hand out there riffles, not that in the excitement of the close game one will shoot into the screen.
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