I know it's still winter but I'm getting anxious for September in a way I haven't for some time. I am long overdue a serious float trip and I've begun my planning. 2015 is the year I'm going back to a river I floated before (and it almost hurts to say) over 20 years ago. Although many of my memories are still vivid, I dug out my photo album from that trip and the images came flooding back. Such a beautiful river and country and I've wanted to go back ever since. I didn't take a bull then but had three chances at paddle bulls. I was with 3 non-res buddies and we agreed to a two moose limit. I wanted one of them to connect on a 50"+ and I chose to hold off until the last two days to give them first crack at any bigger bulls. Of course, we saw no moose the last two days. Our group took a wolf and a black bear and let several young caribou walk. We did see a 3 big bull moose but the wind was always wrong. I even saw my first wolverine as it came barreling out of a willow stand and shot by me at a sprint. It was a great trip. Anyway, I'm sure much has changed and it will be as if I'd never been there in the first place, which is great in its own way.
This will be a species-of-opportunity hunt with the emphasis on moose and I'm recalling lessons learned for the '93 trip. Partner and I are both residents and I have significant river experience although I haven't been on the water in several years.
1. Spend an extra day hunting at the put in--we floated out of great caribou country that first day
2. Make camp well before dark
3. Call before bed and again in the AM
4. Linger later in the morning before breaking camp
5. Call more while floating and LISTEN MORE i.e. talk less!
6. The dutch oven is worth the weight premium. More campfire peach cobbler!
7. Bring fishing gear this time
8. A drift anchor for the lower river's upriver winds
9. Waterproof the maps this time (Doh!)
10. Slingshot for grouse
11. 9 days total this time instead of 7 (2 extra days to linger at "The Spot")
12. A shakedown trip or two (on the Chulitna, most likely) this summer with my partner who's an otherwise experienced Alaskan hunter but a rafting newb
13. Take more pictures and take pictures EVERY DAY!!!
I've got a reasonable quote from a reputable air taxi and bringing my boat is not a problem. I'm confident their rate is competitive, but will be shopping around anyway.
Going to sell my old Jag and my Koffler sled and a bunch of other stuff to generate the funds to buy a new tricked out Jag (and maybe a PR-49). I've done too many trips in the past on a shoestring budget, and going cheap has almost always cost me one way or another. Not repeating that this time--starting the planning early, making lists, testing gear--doing this right.
Barring a 100 year flood situation or some grievous injury, the trip is on. The only variables will be the weather on flying days.
I'm rereading my Massey and Bartlett books and even giving Jetmar a perusal. Picked up a used copy of Strahan's compendium off of Amazon (tried buying it at the AOD store first) and look forward to reading that too.
It feels good to be excited again.