August 4 At my feet is a unique striped rock, half buried in the gravel bar. My heart jumps because I immediately recognize what it is, a huge molar from an adult woolly mammoth! The roots of the tooth are clearly visible (bottom of the below photo, the top photo is the grinding surface.) After taking a couple of photos I dig it out of the gravel and rinse it off in the Yukon. It’s heavy and enormous. It must weigh nearly three pounds, maybe seven inches long.
This is so, so cool! Think of this giant, hairy, ice-age animal with its long, curved tusks, feeding here maybe 20,000 years ago, chewing his grass with this very tooth! I want very badly to keep it. What’s the point of leaving it here, never to be seen again? It’s illegal to possess one found on public lands though. I will keep it in my memory and in photos. It was only through good fortune that I happened to land here for a brunch break, lucky that last spring’s flooding exposed this tooth for me to find.
What a great memory for today. I think back to exactly a year ago. My little dachshund Duke and I took a long hike on the ski trails on Birch Hill. I was carrying a backpack, training for a long hike. Duke trotted along, exploring everything with his eyes and nose, both of us having a good time, neither having any idea it was his last day. Time moves on for everything, mammoths and wiener dogs and people alike.
I have a great lunch spot. Nice logs to sit on. Dry firewood. A gentle breeze keeping the bugs at bay. I set up the solar chargers. Red-orange algae, I think it is, colors the water’s edge and temporarily stains my wading boots
I paddle past the village of Blackburn, apparently abandoned. I start looking for campsites, stopping to explore twice before finding a nice protected spot. As I fall asleep hundreds of gnats patter against the outside of my shelter.
August 5 When I wake up at 3 AM big waves are rolling ashore. It’s no better in the morning. I read The Barefoot Sisters Southbound, a book about two hikers attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail barefoot. I spend the whole day reading or cooking over a little campfire in a quiet cove of willows, or exploring the area. I find a tiny bear cub track, a black bear I think, and also where shore birds have tracked the red-orange algae.
This was a tough day last year, saying goodbye to Duke, but now I smile thinking about him.
August 6 Strong winds and rain allow me to sleep-in guilt-free. I read the second book in the series: The Barefoot Sisters Walking Home. I remember one day when I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I looked down, puzzled by a bare footprint in the cold mud. I caught up with them and we took a break at Overmountain Shelter. We hiked together for a few miles and they showed me wild ramps, a kind of wild onion. A nice wild treat I would have walked by otherwise. Naturally I’m interested to see if I made enough of an impression to warrant a mention. I did not.
The wind starts letting up. I begin to pack and launch at noon.
It rains off and on. The headwind is significant at times but I have no serious problem with wind or waves. As I paddle past the nice little village of Grayling a small commuter plane takes off. It swings over towards me and banks so they can check out the paddler.
It got almost full dark last night. I flush a huge flock of white-fronted geese that were feeding along shore, their high pitched honking filling the air. The first yellow leaves are showing up along the river. Summer is passing.
I’m adding a new post once a week or so. Check back for more!