Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog

fish wheel

native camp

jet boat

merging rivers

more clouds




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jet boat ride

Rivers abound in Alaska. After all that snow and all those glaciers, there's all that melting. Rivers that are composed of glacial melt have a special look - the finely ground rock that the glaciers scrape as they move is suspended in the water and makes them appear milky. As the glacial flour piles up, it begins to dam up the rivers and new rivulets are formed as alternate routes. Locals call these braided rivers; that's how they look from the air. In October freezing temperatures will stop the glaciers from melting and all the rivers will run clear. In these last few warmish days, the rivers are running furiously. In the winter they will be plowed and locals will drive on them.

North of Talkeetna the Susitna River loses 700 feet in elevation and flows over 10mph. This can be a fun river to raft down with little effort, but the top end is a tight canyon called the Devils's Canyon and the high volume of water creates class 6 rapids. It takes a special boat to run safely on Class 6 and we took it into the canyon. The boat had huge windows on the sides and the ceiling and gave us the feeling that we were immersed in the water. When we were in the middle of the largest cascades, the captain gunned the engines and kept us suspended in the action. The doors were opened and we took turns taking photos of the action. Great fun!

On the way back we stopped at a native fish camp and saw the frames were the fish are air dried. Then they are put deep in the ground between layers of branches where the cool temperatures will help to preserve them.

Back in town we enjoyed wandering past picturesque cabins selling tempting souvenirs. We stopped in the park to listen to a free concert sponsored by local businesses. Talkeetna is a cute tourist town with nice restaurants. It also boasts great views of Denali. Too bad we didn't see them on another cloud day.

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