Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting Ready for Fishing

I finally was able to twist some arms and buy some tools for fly-tying for the school. We were able to get 8 sets, thanks to our school council and some help from my materials supplier in Vancouver, Micheal and Young Fly Shop .

The kids are using up hooks at a furious rate. It has exceeded my expectations for popularity. They force every adult that comes into the school to have a go at making a fly. Next week when we have the Bison Feast to celebrate the results of the bison hunt I will be donating a couple hundred of my hand tyed flies for sale. All the money will go into more fish hooks!!

We are using lots of materials that are native to where we live, grouse feathers, diffrent furs, hair from the bison hide and anything else we can find .When I told them to pick up any dead squirrels off the road it didn't go over too well.

The first two pictures are from afterschool. We have used one of our pottery tables for flytying only. The last one is from the Native Language classroom. I did the first lessons in there so I could use the chalk board. I got three of the bigger kids to help with the younger ones until they picked it up. Now everybody can tie the heads. Because we only have 8 sets of tools the kids have to group up and share. They really do help one another learn this way. As you can see by the pictures they are really having fun!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Return of the Swans

On our way home from Whitehorse we went down to the "bridge " to pick up our mail. There were a few swans feeding in the 6 Mile River (it connects Tagish and Marsh lakes). These are just the first arrivals. In the next couple of weeks there will be so many of these beautiful huge white birds that they cover the river. You can see then flying over between favorite feeding spots in Carcross, Tagish and at Marsh lake.
The river is quite shallow and the water stays open most of the winter. Upwelling from the big lake brings up warmer water. It is NEVER safe to cross it, no matter how iced in it looks. These first birds are the Trumpters. The Tundra swans come a bit later. You can tell their 'kids' from last year as they are still greyish. Once, about 15 years ago, we got a very cold snap at the peak of the migration. The first birds couldn't move on and the later birds just kept on coming. There were over 2,000 big swans in the river at one time. I drove my dogteam along the edge and got a very close look at them. The noise was amazing. Snowmachines scare them so you aren't supposed to drive down there when the birds are in. Loose dogs are another very bad idea. Dogteams don't seem to bother them.
The days are really getting longer. Woke up to sunrise at 6ish, working outside in the light until 9:30 last night. Above freezing in the daytime, snow malting and we are finding all the stuff we forgot to pick up in the yard last fall, all things we needed during the winter of course. The sun is so bright and the sky so blue, the best time of the year, impossible to work in the house or shop.
Tomorrow will post some pictures of the kids at school tying flies, now that is some fun!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Stryers Pass, almost....

If I ever wondered why I spent all those years on a dogsled I really knew the answer last Sunday. I took my first long distance trip on a snowmachine. It turned into an endurance test.
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear, beautiful blue sky and -25 c. We packed up our machine, putting in snowshoes, a cookable lunch, extra gas and a few items of emergency gear. Our friends and neighbors the Ofarrel family came with us. We had four machines, our big Scandic that the two of us were doubling on, another Scandic pulling a dogsled that one of their kids, Katie rode, an Arctic bearcat that Dave drove and a small Bravo that their 19 year old son James drove. With great good cheer we drove off down the lake toward the trail to Stryker Pass.
It was a bit cold on the lake with the wind chill of going 20 mph...I pulled my parka hood with nice warm coyote fur around my face. Half way down the lake Dave zoomed by us waving-he had sighted a wolf kill by the side of the frozen lake. We turned around to check it out. The tracks weren't that old, but there wasn't much left that was eatable.
Finally we came to the start of the trail, ohoh, no one had been in there this winter except a couple of snowshoers. That is hardly a broken trail when you have three feet of snow. Dave got out his GPS to inform us that the trail to Lime lake was only 2km away. Sounded fishy but what did we know?
We only got stuck three times on the way in. The valley that the trail follows is beautiful. It winds along a creek with lots of open water, animal sign was everywhere, lynx, wolverine, martin, coyote and wolf tracks. There were several tricky creek crossings, but we all made it up to the lake in good spirits. The longest 2k on earth (try 10k AT LEAST). After a nice fire and a good lunch we deceided to try for Stryker lake. After a fast trip down Lime lake the getting stuck began in ernert. Finally James figured out why he was totally stuck in a deep hole-a part of his machine had sheared off and it was dead.
Luckily we had our big skimmer along, just enough room for a disabled machine with the skis taken off. We got turned around, loaded up the Bravo and off we went out of there. Now the fun really began. Too many tight curves, narrow snow bridges over the creek, trail on sidehill, too many tips, getting off the trail and just plain bogging down. It took hours to get out of there. A couple of times I felt like laying down on the trail and going to sleep. Finally we could see the big lake threw the trees. We were all laughing like mad, it was so crazy. All of us had at least one wet leg. We didn't get back to our place until 8 pm.
I don't care, I'd do it again in a minute. In spite of all the travail it was a great trip, a beautiful day to be outside and just plain fun. We are planning another trip soon before the snow goes. This one will be down Taku Arm, same place I went with the dogs, only this time we will go thru Jones Pass to Atlin Lake. Oh boy, Spring in the Yukon!