Wednesday, August 15, 2007


The final days of Boof Against the Odds were spent in Alaska of all places. I flew there the day after I left First Descents. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Scott Dillard, who I paddled with on the first days of the fundraiser lives in Fairbanks and I finished up BAO on a river with him again along with some of his friends that were in California with us on the warm-up trip to the Cal-Salmon. The summer was really coming full circle now.

Cindy and Dave

When I first got to Alaska, Scott picked me up at the airport and we went fishing with his mom, Cindy, and his dad, Dave. To get to the river we were fishing on, Dave flew me in his super cub float plane. It was incredible to fly there and to see Fairbanks from the air. We caught several Pike that evening. Cindy and I caught the big ones (a first for me) and we ate them for dinner!

We spent the night on the river and fished some more. The sun set around 9 or so and just stayed a sunset for hours, well past midnight. The next morning we flew back to Fairbanks and drove to meet 18 of Scotts friends to float down the Copper River.

This was an amazing Alaskan adventure with a stellar group of really funny people. With 20 people, 5 rafts, and two dogs and lots of ammunition to protect us from the bears, we were quite a crew. I felt as we traveled down the river like one of the Pirates or Peter Pan's lost boys, finding adventure along the way.

We put on the same night after returning from fishing trip. It was a little chilly and raining, luckily that weather did not last for the rest of the week like that. We barely missed our planned campspot and were forced to continue down stream as it began to get dark. Fortunately we found a good spot that night and even ended up with a few Copper River salmon to eat for dinner. As we continued each day down stream, the river grew and grew. It was the largest moving body of water I have ever been on. It was difficult not to get stuck in huge eddies that take forever to paddle out of. We stopped at several beaches on the banks to get out and explore.

Dan and the potato gun

One beach was known for having a lot of bears, so we stopped to check them out. When we got out of our raft, the sand was covered in huge bear prints. It looked like hundreds of bears had been there that morning walking the beach. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I didn't get a chance to see one, but a few people in our crew saw a big grizzly bear when they first landed on the sand.

Scott amongst the paw prints

We also saw lots of seals that had come up from the Prince William Sound, and plenty of bald eagles. The river itself was a relaxing class II, but with a swift current to keep it interesting. The scenery was incredible.

Everywhere you looked there were beautiful waterfalls pouring down into the river and glaciers which looked like frozen lakes tilted and perched on the sides of the steep mountains.

On the last day, we paddled across a lake for a few miles. It was cloudy and I could hear what sounded like thunder in the distance. The sound grew louder as we continued downstream. Finally Scott told me that the thundering sound was coming from an enormous glacier a mile ahead. When we reached the glacier, we parked downstream and hiked up and watched iceburgs calving off the face of the glacier. As they fell, they would make a loud booming sound, and sometimes form huge waves. One wave was so big that it picked up our rafts and moved them 10 feet up the bank. It was a strange feeling to watch skyscraper size chunks of ice suddenly break off and crash down into the river. It was an amazing experience, another simple life adventure coming to an end.

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