Sunday, June 3, 2012

Whiskey Gulch: Day 1

Each year over Memorial Day Weekend (what Alaskan’s consider the official start to summer) members and friends of Our Redeemer LutheranChurch make the trek south 250 miles to a point along the inlet called Whiskey Gulch. On the five hour journey we passed hundreds of Alaska residents dip netting for salmon and Hooligans along the Cook Inlet.
Dip netting along the Cook Inlet (credit Larry Biel)
Hooligans aka Candlefish because of their incredibly oily make. (credit Larry Biel)
Whiskey Gulch is nothing but a piece of shoreline but it’s home to some of the best Halibut fishing that does not involve going directly onto the ocean. Once there, everyone sets up their tents. The brightly colored tents create great contrast against the otherwise gray, rocky, shoreline.
The turn off (credit Terri Semmler)
The shore of Whiskey Gulch (credit Terri Semmler)
It so happens that I was dog-sitting at the time of Whiskey Gulch. I tried to find someone to watch the two dogs but everyone and their dog (literally) that I knew had gone down to Whiskey Gulch too. I finally found someone but decided to bring one of the dogs along—Kobe a Puggle.

Kobe and I road down with the Johnsten family in their van with their three kids ages 3, 4, and 6 and their own dog a golden lab named Norman. Kobe slept on my lap which was the only open spot in the van. It was a fun drive with great conversation and I was the designated DVD player holder.

I arrived to see hundreds of people (not all within are party) all with the same goal in mind—fishing! I set up my tent (which was borrowed from my host parents). There was really no place that lacked rocks so I tried my best and made camp. Putting in the steaks for the rainfly was a bit of a challenge, I don’t think there is a single spot in the whole area without rocks. I ended up using rocks to hold down the rainfly bungees.

After I finished putting up my tent the 1:00pm tide crew were arriving back on shore (it was about 5:00pm). Everyone flocked to the beach to help five Zodiac boats get ashore each with four people all of which had caught the daily limit of Halibut (2 per day). For those who cannot do math quickly that’s 40 Halibut with one tide. It was all hands on deck to clean them—but I will explain that process later.
Heave ho-pull to shore (Credit: Terri Semmler)
(Credit: Terri Semmler)
The next tide was a 7:00pm so a new group left again at that time. I stayed ashore for this one and hung out around the campfire with lots of other people. We talked everything from weather, politics, family, and gadgets.

The 7:00pm tide crew arrived back around 9:30pm and each person had once again caught the limit. After cleaning the fish again, it was time for s’mores and then off to bed. I settled in my tent around 1:00am. It was not dark by any means. It doesn’t get dark here in Alaska anymore. Although it was a dusk setting light it was cold. There was a breeze off the shore and the ground was cold below me. Poor Kobe dog was shivering.
Goodnight...moon? or sun, we'll go with sun
Kobe is an EXTREME snuggler. At home he cuddles in bed with his master and out in the tent he was very confused as to where to go. I drew him close but I myself was cold so to have my arms outside of my mummy sleeping bag to cuddle the dog there was a loss of heat. I unzipped my sleeping bag slightly and Kobe dog DARTED head first into the mummy bag.
Inside my tent at 1:00am, taken without a flash-that's as dark as Alaska night gets
You must realize there is not much room in a mummy sleeping bag for a grown person let alone a dog and a person (they are built to fit snug—like a mummy). Kobe was so snug in fact that he could not get turned around for his head to peak up by mine. Kobe did not seem to mind. Instead he fell asleep with his head down by my abdomen, his body sprawled across my stomach, and two hind feet straddling my face.
Kobe is snuggled in notice my sleeping bag un-zipped and he is falling out the side.
I am not a back sleeper and at this point was lying on my back. I rolled to my side thinking Kobe dog would retreat out of the mummy sleeping bag, but instead he just “rolled with it” (haha). I must admit having a dog sandwiched inside of the sleeping bag against my front side was like having an electric blanket. I finally fell asleep (even with the numerous rocks poking at my side). The next day would be full of fishing.

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