Twenty minutes ago it turned midnight, we just stopped but had been running since 7:30 this morning through Pilot Station, St. Mary's, and Mountain Village bouncing back and forth from shore to shore in these giant P-trap bends in the river. We are reduced to making about 5 miles an hour without the current helping us out very much anymore and with the regular wind we are facing in the afternoons. It has been cold but windy and sunny for a several long days in a row and I am getting burnt.
We had just come up a 15 mile slough back channel shortcut and had located what looked like a perfect camping spot on the map when we rounded the corner and found an older couple at their fish camp directly across from where we were planning to spend the night. It was Pete Andrews and his wife. They come out here to spend the entire summer until freeze up on the bank of the Patsy Slough partly because Pete's wife was born in the derelict log cabin just up the mud bank from where we are tied up. She is a Patsy you know.
Pete was just getting his chainsaw out of the boat to cut up some firewood so that he and the wife could come across the slough in their boat and fire up a steambath in the old bathhouse. He is 69 and his wife is 72 and they love it here because they can smoke all their fish for the year here and then shoot geese and ducks in the fall and also really to get away from all the hustle and bustle of life in Mountain Village now that the road has been put in from St. Mary's. We pulled up and asked if it was OK to camp across the slough and he told us exactly where to put the boat so that our little dog would not have to get her feet muddy when she jumped out. When they came to this side to get the steambath ready, Pete brought up a bag of fresh king salmon for us to cook up on the grill and we passed him a couple of bags of our food that we had extra. The salmon turned out phenomenal grilled in a fish basket seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices and served with brown rice with soy sauce.
The interaction with Pete was so wonderfully typical of so many of the people that we have met on the river. Time and again we have been treated and greeted wonderfully by so many folks here on the Yukon, more that I had imagined, kids waving and shouting, grown men walking down to the boat to introduce themselves and shake hands, young guys giving a ride on their four wheeler, especially along this lower stretch of river, the interactions with all of the people that we have encountered have been exceptional.
It's one o'clock now and I think it is time for bed even though Pete is back in his boat coming across the slough for his bath. We have nearly traveled the entire watercourse of this giant river by now and are slowly becoming accustomed to the ways of life here, most remarkable are the people that live here that have been so generous to us.