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Thread: Greenhorn welcomes advice...

  1. #1
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    Default Greenhorn welcomes advice...

    Hi everyone. I've been reading this forum for a couple of weeks, and am finally registered to post. I'm a hard-core outdoorsman from Minnesota who has been dreaming about coming to Alaska for 47 years. Well, things are lining up with work and kids and aging parents, etc., so it looks like I will get my chance this summer. I'll be coming up with my truck and camper in late May or early June, and will be staying through late August. I have about a bazillion questions and plan to be spending a lot of time on here gaining wisdom. Not sure the best way to go about this, but I'm guessing I'll post some questions in different areas where it applies and will see what happens.

    The big three that I want to experience are hunting, fishing, and scenery. I'm a do-it-yourself guy on a budget (this will cost me 5 grand or more by the time I am done) - so I'm unable to hire guides, do fly-in trips, etc. I'm used to working hard to accomplish what I need to do. Please don't get the impression that I find a guide useless or too expensive, because I am one back here in Minnesota. I just really enjoy the challenge of figuring things out on my own - it's what I've always done.

    For hunting, I'd like to try for a coastal black bear in June. I'll bring my bow and my rifle just in case close range becomes impossible. I was really thinking about spending a bunch of time on the Kenai Penninsula, but the more I read on here, the more I am getting the impression that the area becomes a zoo in summer. That is not what I am all about as I much prefer solitude.

    Does a guy sort of "loose the crowd" if he heads down toward Valdez, Cordova, or Wrangell instead of going to Kenai, Seward and Homer?

    I keep wondering about dragging up my boat (I have an 19 foot with a 115 Yamaha), or canoe (I have an 18 foot Wenonah in Kevlar). My primary purpose would be to access the ocean for bear, but also do some salmon, trout, and halibut fishing. I'm a fishing guide here in Minnesota, so I'm totally stoked to experience new things up there!

    I'm wondering about the alaskan highway and what that will do to my boat and trailer? I'm not excited at the thought of dinging up my boat, flat tires, changing trailer bearings, etc. but willing to consider it if you all think it's worth it.

    I'm an experienced wilderness canoeist, but I have little experience dealing with the tide, so I'm wondering about the usefulness of having a canoe? I read about people kayaking in the ocean all the time, so it makes me wonder, why not a canoe, if a guy does his best to pick good days (I realize that weather changes there rapidly. It does here too. I've been stranded on shore to wait storms out many times). I won't lie, I'm sort of dreaming about slipping along the shoreline on a calm day, trying to sneak up on a bear.

    I'm also wondering if a guy can use the canoe to access some of the salmon streams to get away from the crowds in summer (if I have to combat fish, I won't fish). Realizing every year is probably different, in general, are there some places that are gentle enough to float with a canoe? I'm not afraid to scratch it up, but I don't need any holes! I also don't need to be flying by at mach 10!

    During my stay, I've got a general plan of being from Valdez to Kodiak Island. I'd like to hunt a Caribou in August and it seems like the road system up by Fairbanks is probably my best option. I know, a lot of work to get away from the crowd, but I'm not your average guy. A lot of desire here...

    IF i did hire a guide, it would be to hunt mountain goat. But I would be pretty happy to just hunt some sitka blacktail too.

    Well, that's probably enough for now. I realize I've asked alot, but this gives you more of an idea of the big picture, and what I want to do. I appreciate any advice you guys can give, and thanks in advance for your helpfulness.

    Tim

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    Member Knute78's Avatar
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    Tim, I can't help you much on the fishing, but I can tell that you will love the drive up. I drove up in Sept. of 2010, and pulled a trailer with freezerz and gear for hunting. Its a long hual and don't push your vehicle too hard. Pretty good road all the way, but once you get into the Yukon, you will run into frost heaves in the road. Take it easy on this stretch of highway, or you will find it like bouncing off of waves in your boat. For caribou, if you are a bow hunter, most would suggest doing a walk in off the Haul Road. I'm sure others will chime in with more and better info than I can give, but Alaska is a wonderful place and experience, and I count the days till I return. Knute

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    The road system is where over 50% of the state population lives and where 90% or more of the visiting people are planning on being. So getting away from the crowds while sitting in your truck is not going to happen easily. The good news is that AK is not the lower 48 with roads all over the place. The bad news is that AK is not the lower 48 with roads all over the place. half full half empty kind of situation.

    You can find some solitude along the Denali Highway before August 10 and fish grayling in streams along the road, and lake trout in lakes. You will not be bothered by many people during the week.

    In unit 6D - most of the coastal area in PWS - black bear closes on June 10 so you may miss out on most of the season for coastal black bear hunting if not up here sooner.

    Caribou hunting will put you up north on the Haul Road or out in Unit 23 at Kotzebue. On a budget you will be looking at the Haul Road and bow hunting within the restricted area along the road. Already more than a few books worth of information posted on that, so start searching.

    For boating I would choose the canoe, but since you are looking at different types of saltwater fishing you may want to bring the motor boat. It would be more useful along the coastal areas. The canoe won't really help you with getting away from crowds in salmon waters - too many jet boats - and due to the lack of roads you may not be able to get your canoe back up stream to where you put in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by summerof2013 View Post
    I'm also wondering if a guy can use the canoe to access some of the salmon streams to get away from the crowds in summer (if I have to combat fish, I won't fish).
    For starters, I would think about changing this mentality. There is plenty of fish, fun, and often-times even a good social aspect to be had from combat fishing. When you pull up to Mille Lacs, Leech, or LOW, do you not go fishing because there are other trailers at the access? With some effort, you can find fishing that is less crowed, but unless you go to work for a remote lodge, you are most likely going to run into other people, unless you are fishing pinks/chum, which is still great fun, but not what most Alaskans are after.

    As others mentioned, the drive is not bad at all, but you would definitely need to take it slow in that region between Whitehorse and Tok. In certain areas at certain times, the boat would be useful, but I'm not sure it is worth the effort to bring, and then to have to store it somewhere when you are not using it, because you surely don't want to be hauling it around all the time. The Kenai is a great place, and with minimal effort, especially for spring or fall spot-and-stalk bear, you will not run into many hunters once you put a bit of boot-leather between you and the road. The same is probably true for the other areas you mentioned, but I personally cannot speak for them. I wouldn't discount chasing a black bear in the fall either. If you are after the hide, you will run into less rub issues in late August, whereas in June it is definitely something to watch for.

    Have you thought about deckhanding on a charter boat or working at a lodge? That would be another option. In some ways, it will tie you down and restrict freedoms, but in others, it opens up a world of possibilities, and would probably create some inroads with people that have a lot of experience doing what you want to do. Either way, as long as your plan involves heading to Alaska, with your ambition level, you can't really go too wrong.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Here's a few Canoe shots, from the Southern Kenai Peninsula,...
    FAR from the madding crowds, and as I believe you know Canoes fairly well, and have a good rig yourself,

    You could do this, and your dream of slipping along a shore,...in your canoe, for Black Bear,...is real
    this first pic, was a couple hundred yards from where I ambushed a 6ft Black Bear sneaking down to stretch in the sun
    on June 18th



    I didn't access this area by Canoe,...but by larger boat,...but it is very doable for an experienced paddler, with determination,
    you just have to get across the bay from Homer,...(not a huge stretch to shoot across with a morning of good weather)
    then you can skirt along the shore an get into waters like this,...
    really, you won't see anyone else down there, and sliding along the shore, you'll get into some pretty nice Bear Country
    earlier the better for your timeline, but we found a lot of sign in June back in that area





    that's fantastic country, and as far as Tidal action goes,...it's not nearly as much a factor, once you are across the bay, working your way along the coast, it'd be wind chop that would delay you,...but you'll be in Bear Country all along there,...so you can take your time,
    as it looks you have planned to do



    I'm a big believer in Canoes,...if you know how they work,...really an awesome craft,...
    and this is only a 14 foot, Mad River Explorer, but my boy and I have hunted the heck out of that rig,...

    and I'll only mention the Kodiak Archipelago,....Once,......Don't Miss it,...
    well, okay, two pics,...(this is on north Shuyak)





    Have Fun, in the Anticipation Stage,....

    PS: I can appreciate your approach to coming up,....would love to help out a Minnesota boy any way I can so,
    as soon as you can send PM's,...ask away, I can give you good detail on this hunt I'm showing here
    it'll be exactly what you are hoping for, really
    the road system bondage,...is only for those not willing to paddle or walk, a little further
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Quote Originally Posted by summerof2013 View Post
    Hi everyone.

    The big three that I want to experience are hunting, fishing, and scenery. I'm a do-it-yourself guy on a budget (this will cost me 5 grand or more by the time I am done) - so I'm unable to hire guides, do fly-in trips, etc.

    For hunting, I'd like to try for a coastal black bear in June. I'll bring my bow and my rifle just in case close range becomes impossible. I was really thinking about spending a bunch of time on the Kenai Penninsula, but the more I read on here, the more I am getting the impression that the area becomes a zoo in summer. That is not what I am all about as I much prefer solitude.

    Does a guy sort of "loose the crowd" if he heads down toward Valdez, Cordova, or Wrangell instead of going to Kenai, Seward and Homer?

    I keep wondering about dragging up my boat (I have an 19 foot with a 115 Yamaha), or canoe (I have an 18 foot Wenonah in Kevlar). My primary purpose would be to access the ocean for bear, but also do some salmon, trout, and halibut fishing.

    I'm wondering about the alaskan highway and what that will do to my boat and trailer? I'm not excited at the thought of dinging up my boat, flat tires, changing trailer bearings, etc. but willing to consider it if you all think it's worth it.

    I'm an experienced wilderness canoeist, but I have little experience dealing with the tide, so I'm wondering about the usefulness of having a canoe? I read about people kayaking in the ocean all the time, so it makes me wonder, why not a canoe, if a guy does his best to pick good days (I realize that weather changes there rapidly. It does here too. I've been stranded on shore to wait storms out many times). I won't lie, I'm sort of dreaming about slipping along the shoreline on a calm day, trying to sneak up on a bear.

    I'm also wondering if a guy can use the canoe to access some of the salmon streams to get away from the crowds in summer (if I have to combat fish, I won't fish).

    During my stay, I've got a general plan of being from Valdez to Kodiak Island. I'd like to hunt a Caribou in August and it seems like the road system up by Fairbanks is probably my best option. I know, a lot of work to get away from the crowd, but I'm not your average guy. A lot of desire here...
    Tim
    Tim
    I totally understand your excitement about visiting AK and all the things you want to see and do..

    Not sure what gas prices are in Canada anymore, they sell by the Litre at a very high price. Gas here in the MatSu valley is $3.89 - $3.92 today. It'll be over $4 on the Kenai. My point being, towing a 19ft boat is going to cut your MPG averages down.. to the point, you'd probably save by leaving the 19ft boat home, and use the savings to hire a guide or two. I've heard some real horror stories about towing boats up from the L48.

    I understand your all grown up, and an independent kind of guy, and a fish guide back in MN, but for the most part, it would be to your advantage to learn how to rig for Chinook, Coho, Sockeye from someone who knows how. The same can be said for Salt water fishing. (I owned and operated a fishing charter service out of both Seward and Homer for a combined 20 yrs)

    Coastal bears.. Late April, early May.. across the BaY From Homer, Black bear will be thick along the beach. In previous years I've counted over 30 Blacks in one day between Seldovia and Point Adam, searching for something to eat on the beach. Later they'll be up higher..

    If you do bring your 19' boat up, and you get it here in one piece, give me a shout and I'll give you some pointers on fishing out of Seward and Homer.

    Good Luck

    John

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Geez kodiak, you always post the most beautiful pictures.. thank you for sharing..

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    Thank you all for the advice...

    Old John & Wykee5 - I will think about changing my mentality. You sound like you are familiar with MN :-) No, I don't leave the access at Mille Lacs if I see a ton of trailers, but I don't go out and float around on the mud flats with the entire floatilla either! I find places to be by myself - which is what I hope to do in AK. But you're right. There is a certain comradery sometimes in fishing the crowd. It happens here every spring on the Rainy River because it's the first water to open. I don't want to sound unsociable. I do enjoy people, and I have a lot to learn. I am leaning toward not bring my big boat. It's more of a gut feeling. How far is it to canoe across the bay from Homer? Also, I am talking to a friend in Homer who has sons that have salmon boats - and one is looking for a deckhand. I want to do that, but I don't want to be tied down and lose my freedom for the entire season. I'm working on seeing if I can give them some extra help for a shorter period of time. You're right, it would be so cool to experience this, and make some good contacts, learn, etc.

    Kodiakrain - Awesome photos. So incredibly beautiful. I owned and operated a photo lab/camera store for 20 years, so I can appreciate some good scenery pics! Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks for the encouragement. Because of you, I will be bringing my canoe for sure. Are you having a late spring there? We sure are here. Have had over a foot of snow in the last week. Everything here locked up in ice, and likely won't open before May. It will be the second week of June before I get up there, so nice to know the bears can still be had. I'm not after a great hide, so not too worried about the rubbing. I want some meat, the skull, and will donate the rest of the meat to anyone who wants it - so it doesn't spoil. Any ideas on who? Is there something I need to do to be able to PM you? Finally, I am wondering about the alaska canoeing forum. I've read pages upon pages of posts. It's all about gear. Canoes. Boat building projects, selling, buying, Etc. Very little talk about what they actually use the canoes for (hunting, fishing, exploring, I assume)? I'm just sort of curious about that. I posted there about bear hunting from a canoe. Some readers, but no replies. Makes me really appreciate your post :-)

    Knute78 - very much anticipating the drive. I've got lots of time, but I do want to get up there before all of the bears disappear up higher. People keep mentioning the Haul Road for caribou (yes, Kotzebue is too far and too much expense for me at this time but perhaps next year). Can I assume the haul road is the main road between Anchorage and Fairbanks, or is it something else?

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    Quote Originally Posted by summerof2013 View Post
    Thank you all for the advice...

    Old John & Wykee5 - I will think about changing my mentality. You sound like you are familiar with MN :-) No, I don't leave the access at Mille Lacs if I see a ton of trailers, but I don't go out and float around on the mud flats with the entire floatilla either! I find places to be by myself - which is what I hope to do in AK. But you're right. There is a certain comradery sometimes in fishing the crowd. It happens here every spring on the Rainy River because it's the first water to open. I don't want to sound unsociable. I do enjoy people, and I have a lot to learn. I am leaning toward not bring my big boat. It's more of a gut feeling. How far is it to canoe across the bay from Homer? Also, I am talking to a friend in Homer who has sons that have salmon boats - and one is looking for a deckhand. I want to do that, but I don't want to be tied down and lose my freedom for the entire season. I'm working on seeing if I can give them some extra help for a shorter period of time. You're right, it would be so cool to experience this, and make some good contacts, learn, etc.

    Kodiakrain - Awesome photos. So incredibly beautiful. I owned and operated a photo lab/camera store for 20 years, so I can appreciate some good scenery pics! Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks for the encouragement. Because of you, I will be bringing my canoe for sure. Are you having a late spring there? We sure are here. Have had over a foot of snow in the last week. Everything here locked up in ice, and likely won't open before May. It will be the second week of June before I get up there, so nice to know the bears can still be had. I'm not after a great hide, so not too worried about the rubbing. I want some meat, the skull, and will donate the rest of the meat to anyone who wants it - so it doesn't spoil. Any ideas on who? Is there something I need to do to be able to PM you? Finally, I am wondering about the alaska canoeing forum. I've read pages upon pages of posts. It's all about gear. Canoes. Boat building projects, selling, buying, Etc. Very little talk about what they actually use the canoes for (hunting, fishing, exploring, I assume)? I'm just sort of curious about that. I posted there about bear hunting from a canoe. Some readers, but no replies. Makes me really appreciate your post :-)

    Knute78 - very much anticipating the drive. I've got lots of time, but I do want to get up there before all of the bears disappear up higher. People keep mentioning the Haul Road for caribou (yes, Kotzebue is too far and too much expense for me at this time but perhaps next year). Can I assume the haul road is the main road between Anchorage and Fairbanks, or is it something else?
    Tim,
    in the 15 yrs I ran a charter boat out of Homer, I've had an awful lot of people, some of who were repeat clientele from MN.. They all seemed to be serious about fishing!

    You have to be a member for over a month, and have to post x number of posts, before the PM thingy is activated on you... So keep on posting questions, and sometime in May you can PM others..

    John

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    google Dalton highway, we call it the haul road. Lots of trucks haul stuff to the oil fields.

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    Quote Originally Posted by summerof2013 View Post
    People keep mentioning the Haul Road for caribou (yes, Kotzebue is too far and too much expense for me at this time but perhaps next year). Can I assume the haul road is the main road between Anchorage and Fairbanks, or is it something else?
    The Haul Road is the road north from Fairbanks up through the Brooks Range and across the Coastal Plain to the Arctic Ocean. There are countless threads on the Bowhunting Forum that can give you enough details to know if this is something you want to pursue. It is the only road-system option for caribou hunting for non-residents, so it's either the Haul Road, a fly-out, or changing your preferred targets. Plan on driving ~300+ miles north of Fairbanks and stalking caribou on treeless tundra. You will not be alone up there, but if you're willing to walk 1-2 miles from the road you can find some peace.

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    as to your questons about the canoeing forum, and their uses up here,...
    canoes are mostly used on the interior rivers systems, so youll see lots of large cargo type rigs
    working the massive rivers, often with motors on square sterns
    but they are used to hunt, haul gear, etc. all over that shallow draft water country

    is why Wanted to show you some motivation for coastal canoeing

    Ive owned several, for "shore recon," from my Comm. fishing vessels as I travel the coast


    you might cringe at the sound of your Kevlar touching the barnacle covered rocks
    but gravel beaches and coves can be found
    An exprienced Canoe guy can access some amazing country on the Ocean as well as all the rivrs up north
    and so inexpnsively

    I think its justa matter of a certain number of posts, (not too many more)
    to be able to PM someone

    its been a super mild winter and Early Spring for us on Island
    maybe two weeks ahead of schedule
    but there is a massive difference between here and the Kenai Pen
    Ive heard they got a huge dump of snow lately,
    so its probably a normal schedule for your potential aearly June Bear
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member Trappnguns's Avatar
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    Keep in mind, Cordova, Wrangell, Kodiak, and other such places you need to get on the ferry. It starts getting pricey when you add extra length like a boat.

    Don't discount the fishing in Kodiak if you make it there. Our version of combat fishing was 6 people in 100yds...

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    If you are going to consider hunting coastal bears via canoe out of Homer, I would highly recommend that you get a water taxi to run you across Kachemak Bay before starting your hunt via canoe. Canoeing across K Bay is asking for trouble. I don't say this because I question your skill, but rather because I know enough of those waters to understand the risk. Don't take crossing K Bay lightly.

    On a second note, mid June will provide poor hunting for coastal black bears out of Homer. Most bears will be up in the mountains by that point. If I were targeting black bears in mid June, it would be a mountain hunt in either the Kenai Mountains or the Talkeetna Mountains. Hiking Resurrection Pass would likely provide a good hunt.

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    that makes more sense. those guys on the canoe forum probably think I'm nuts!

    I'm not too worried about my kevlar. I've used it a lot around here and in canada on the rocks. I usually just wear tall boots and unload it when its floating. Then I carry it up. It's only 42 pounds.

    Looks like I can't PM on here for about a month, so if you want to chat, you can reach me on my website at big fish hunt dot com. hopefully that's not a no-no to post that. If it is, moderator feel free to remove it right away and I apologize in advance.

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    Thank you Brian. Sounds like good advice!

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    Ifyou can, bring the 115. It will open up alot more of the State to you. It will bebetter if itís a jet for more of the shallow waters, but a prop will work alsofor the deeper waters. If you drive upwith the boat, be sure to protect the bow and windshield form rocks. Iíve heard of a guy driving up with afiberglass boat and it ended up withholes and rocks stuck in the hull. Asfor the Kenai Peninsula, Itís good fishing but lots of people and even moreF&G restrictions. I also recommend you stay till mid September if youcan. A lot more hunt going on then. And it does matter where you go, the scenery will be good everywhere. Goodluck. P.S. Donít forget the bug spray!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by summerof2013 View Post
    Thank you all for the advice...

    Old John & Wykee5 - I will think about changing my mentality. You sound like you are familiar with MN :-) No, I don't leave the access at Mille Lacs if I see a ton of trailers, but I don't go out and float around on the mud flats with the entire floatilla either! I find places to be by myself - which is what I hope to do in AK. But you're right. There is a certain comradery sometimes in fishing the crowd. It happens here every spring on the Rainy River because it's the first water to open. I don't want to sound unsociable. I do enjoy people, and I have a lot to learn. I am leaning toward not bring my big boat. It's more of a gut feeling. How far is it to canoe across the bay from Homer? Also, I am talking to a friend in Homer who has sons that have salmon boats - and one is looking for a deckhand. I want to do that, but I don't want to be tied down and lose my freedom for the entire season. I'm working on seeing if I can give them some extra help for a shorter period of time. You're right, it would be so cool to experience this, and make some good contacts, learn, etc.

    Kodiakrain - Awesome photos. So incredibly beautiful. I owned and operated a photo lab/camera store for 20 years, so I can appreciate some good scenery pics! Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks for the encouragement. Because of you, I will be bringing my canoe for sure. Are you having a late spring there? We sure are here. Have had over a foot of snow in the last week. Everything here locked up in ice, and likely won't open before May. It will be the second week of June before I get up there, so nice to know the bears can still be had. I'm not after a great hide, so not too worried about the rubbing. I want some meat, the skull, and will donate the rest of the meat to anyone who wants it - so it doesn't spoil. Any ideas on who? Is there something I need to do to be able to PM you? Finally, I am wondering about the alaska canoeing forum. I've read pages upon pages of posts. It's all about gear. Canoes. Boat building projects, selling, buying, Etc. Very little talk about what they actually use the canoes for (hunting, fishing, exploring, I assume)? I'm just sort of curious about that. I posted there about bear hunting from a canoe. Some readers, but no replies. Makes me really appreciate your post :-)

    Knute78 - very much anticipating the drive. I've got lots of time, but I do want to get up there before all of the bears disappear up higher. People keep mentioning the Haul Road for caribou (yes, Kotzebue is too far and too much expense for me at this time but perhaps next year). Can I assume the haul road is the main road between Anchorage and Fairbanks, or is it something else?
    Such a small world. My family has had a cabin just off the rainy river in the chain of lakes in Ontario for over 50 years. I drove up here the last time from Duluth in fact.

    As far as the drive goes (friend from Wyoming just made the trip to confirm too) frost heaves are really back in the Yukon, but it only gets worse from there until you reach the pass outside Sutton, AK. IMHO the roads are the worst from Tok to Sutton than any of the Yukon.

    That being said, I've done the trip 3 times now all from the midwest, and everytime I make it to either side I want to turn around and do it again. From about Edmonton west the trips epic!!!

    You'll love the trip up and there's something about this place that doesn't do justice to the Northwoods, having spent sometime in the bountry waters, it's about as close as it really gets in Minnesota to here, except here it's 100x larger and even harder to get anywhere. Even if you get a mile off the roads in the busiest places here in the summer it still feels like wilderness and if you stay out of the campgrounds you'll avoid those pesky Los Anchorage folk. Oh and watch for the tourists who feel the need to take pictures of anything that's fuzzy and near the road with an inappropriate brake slam session.

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    kodiakrain those are some great pictures. beautiful scenery down there. i really need to go see kodiak.

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