June 22 – Copper Center, Alaska

What a roller coaster ride today. Before we got started we did take advantage of the cheap car wash to clean the coach – $12. It was all done by hand by Brenda and me but it makes a total difference to drive a clean coach. We are clean and today looks dry outside.

Yes the road south out of Tok (Glenn Highway) was rough – many frost heaves and bare gravel sections – only one major delay for construction.

Stopped at a local lake to enjoy the scenery.

Had no campground lined up before we left and continued on to find whatever we could find – kind of the Alaska Attitude! We ended up at Salmon Grove RV (Salmon Charters) Park. Manager was real nice and gave us a special spot on the river, with no one on one side of us.

Only a 20 Amp hook up with no water or sewer but we are only here for two days. Manager said I would stay longer as I would fall in love with this site and the river.

Copper Center developed during the Gold Rush of 1898 when prospectors headed north from Valdez and someone said there was gold in the Copper Valley. They say over 300 miners died of scurvy and a lack of food during that winter. Some of the cabins from that period still remain.DSC_0004

After getting set up we headed over to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park – the largest NP in the USA (13.2 million acres). It was created in 1980. It has four major mountain ranges within the park and nine of the 16 highest peaks in the USA.

We did the movie and got our stamp and magnet and Brenda her Jr. Ranger book. We hiked thru the Boreal forest and enjoyed the afternoon – temp is almost 70.

We did miss other trails but will have to do this again.

They even named a street after me.DSC_0046

We are in a fish camp and everyone here is fishing for Salmon – except me. This is a whole new culture with everyone focused on one thing – catching the big one!

Friday is overcast and eventually reached 73. Getting the itch like everyone else, I went over to the office and asked if I could catch a charter on Sunday and sure enough they had space available and I am heading out for King Salmon.

Had to stop at Copper Central and get my day license and King stamp – so I am ready.

Brenda and I and the dogs headed back to Wrangell – St. Elias NP and she completed her work book and got her badge and then we walked some trails within the park. Dogs were chasing squirrels around every turn. To bed early tonight.

Saturday up at 2:45 AM and to the office by 3 – dressed in my waders and fishing gear. 3:30 we were on the road and in the water by 4 – remember it is already daylight. DSC_0004 (2)

Weather was cool and rain was predicted but never happened.

Our guide – Galen – was a great guide – she took us step by step through everything we had to do and not do – showed us how to fish and what to look for. What was really great was anytime you had an issue – snagged line, bird’s nest, etc. – she would fix it.

First “fish on” call came very soon after we got started – everyone has to remove their poles from the water and the guide gets the net and gets into the water and directs you how to hold the pole and when to reel in and whatever else needs to be done to get the fish close enough to scoop it in the net.

Then she clubs the fish on the head and bleeds it out in the water.IMG_3330

Back in the water with the poles. Another “fish on” about ½ hour later.

Finally I got my “fish on” and I began to reel the fish in. Guide was there to direct and scoop it. Almost got away but we managed to get it to shore. She took pictures afterwards to remember the moment.

Continued on fishing the rest of our tour – we did a half-day charter – and then back to campground.

After arriving at camp, she grabbed the fish and we went over to the cleaning table. She did all the work to create the fillets according to Brenda’s requirements – we got 9 pounds of fish at a cost of $25 per pound.

Great charter out of Grove Salmon Campground and great people in the campground. Note to self – Do it again!

Grilled a salmon fillet tonight and oh how yummy – fresh!IMG_3317

Sunday is off to Chitina, Alaska.

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