Author Archives: icefogger

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends.

Windmills

Going in circles

I feel like I’m spinning in circles myself writing posts on here, so I’m going to keep things short & sweet until the issues are cleared up.


Canoe Repair

Cracks in the hull, minus the moose hoof prints

Prior to heading out to the lake a couple of weeks ago, I had to do some repair work to the hull on my Old Town Discovery canoe. This past winter, I followed moose tracks over to where I had the canoe stored, and found that the moose tried to go through the canoe. I thought it was stored well enough on saw horses, but a moose does what it wants to, and I’m sure it looked like a snow covered log.

There were moose prints in the snow covering the canoe, but it must have realized that it wasn’t a log. If a moose had put all its weight on the Old Town, it would have gone through the hull. As it turned out, the moose only put a few cracks in it. To be fair, the canoe is at least 30 years old, so I have received my money’s worth, but I also like to squeeze every bit out of something I can.

So I decided to repair the hull.

Sanded hull

The first step was to get the canoe in the Rover Hut, then sand the entire hull.

Acetone the hull

I then cleaned the entire hull with acetone. Warning: Acetone should only be used in a well ventilated area**

After the cleaning, I cut alongside the cracks with a razor blade to allow the epoxy I was going to use to get down into the cracks. Then I cleaned the entire hull a second time with the acetone. Luckily, acetone dries extremely quickly.

G-Flex 650 Epoxy

After some internet searching, I found that the G-Flex epoxy was the best product out there to repair the Royalex of an Old Town canoe. I called their tech center to tell them my plan, and get any insight from them. They were incredibly helpful! I received the go ahead from them, and went back out to the Rover Hut. Side note: I did have some down time. The product is not sold in Fairbanks, so I ordered it from Amazon. They promptly sent me a box containing only the epoxy hardener, which is utterly useless by itself.

Filling the cracks with epoxy

Like most epoxies, G-Flex is a two part system. There is a resin Part A, and a hardener Part B. You mix equal parts of both together to get the working epoxy. I mixed up a small batch, and filled the large cracks. The next day, I flipped the canoe over to fill brush some epoxy over the cracks that had come close to coming all the way through the hull.

The hull completely coated in G-flex epoxy

Because of the canoe’s age, there was a fair amount of what I would describe as “spider-webbing”. A series of tiny cracks that had not gone through the hull, but had probably made it easier for the moose to cause the large ones. I wanted to coat the entire hull in the epoxy to at least buy me some time with the spider-webbing. Luckily, the G-Flex went on rather easy with a brush, and spread out in an even coat.

The epoxy can be top coated, although I have not done so. Krylon Fusion spray paint is said to work well on Royalex, but again, I have not attempted that.

The Discovery back on the water

The end result: The old canoe was back on the water, and glided just like it did when I bought it. No leaks, and the epoxy didn’t scare away the lake trout.


Warm waters thought to be culprit with salmon deaths

Dead chum salmon found on the Koyukuk River; Photo credit: ADF&G

Salmon carcasses have been found in large numbers from Norton Sound, all the way up the Yukon River drainage.

Reports of children being able to catch chums with their hands in the Yukon are also coming in. The salmon appear to be completely disorientated.

On one bank of the Koyukuk, over 100 dead chum salmon were counted.

Fish & Game officials, as well as residents along the rivers report that when cut open, the salmon still have eggs or sperm inside. That means that they have not spawned yet.

Dead pink salmon along the Shaktoolik River; Photo credit: Sophia Katchatag, Community coordinator for Shaktoolik

The best guess right now is that the high water temperatures have stressed the salmon out before they can reach their spawning grounds. The waters of Norton Sound, the Koyukuk River and the Shaktoolik River are all well above average. The water temperatures for the Yukon River have been at the highest level ever recorded this summer.


FIRE

The smoke comes in from a new fire started by lightning

I knew it before I even went outside the cabin the next morning. I had left a window open to experience the thunderstorm, and now I could smell the repercussions.

Sure enough, when I walked down the boardwalk to the lake, the hills across the water were barely visible due to the smoke. No doubt the lightning from the storm the previous night had started another wildfire. No where in Alaska is safe from the smoke this summer.

It was around noon when I heard the buzz of the planes coming in. Two single engine aircraft flew directly over me at a height of only a few hundred feet. Under one wing, in all capital letters, was the word FIRE.

For the next six hours, the two planes skirted the lake, landing in a bay on the far end on their floats, filled up their tanks on the run, then took off again in the direction that they had come. The fire must have been close, as the raven flies, because the interval between water fills was only 10 minutes.

I went back out to fish, but hesitated from crossing the lake. I had hit the trout fairly hard the evening before on the other side of the lake, but I didn’t think I could cross in 10 minutes in the canoe. I ended up fishing my side until evening, when the flights stopped.


The Eagle

Looking out over the lake at the end of the day

I sat out at the end of the dock, watching a family of ducks float about just past the reeds. The eagle I have seen since my arrival, was riding the thermals up high. The sun was slowly setting, causing the smokey sky to give off its wildfire glow.

After hanging out with me for the better part of a day, the ducks have grown used to me, and barely paddle off when I venture out in the canoe.

Thunder was building tension off in the distance, when I saw the eagle dive. I wondered if it saw a fish. No, I realized almost immediately that it wasn’t diving for a fish. The talons extended out from the golden eagle’s body, its large wings spread outward to slow down its impact.

Ducks. The eagle was in the mood for duck. There was a moment of intense squawking. Then silence. The remaining brood paddled quickly away, and the eagle settled down just past the reeds.

A minute later, I watched a raven come into the kill site. I could see only its black head, as it hopped closer and closer to where I had last seen the golden eagle. One final raven hop, and the great raptor rose up with wings wide and high. The raven hopped just out of range, but continued to harass the eagle while it ate.

The Thunderstorm

We don’t get as many rousing thunderstorms as the Midwest. We simply don’t have the humidity. However, the one that came through as I sat out on the dock was a decent one. Lightning was all around the lake, and the thunder rolled over the hills and across the water. Only a few scattered drops of rain, unfortunately. All show, and no soak.

I went inside more to avoid the lightning than the rain drops.

Propane Lights

I had no intention of even turning the valve open on the propane, but the severely darkened sky kind of forced my hand. It took a little while, but eventually the gas made it down the copper lines, and the familiar hiss of the propane lights filled the little log cabin.

The warm glow of the propane lights from outside the cabin, where the fox stared me down

I’ve missed these lights. They say “north woods” to me, and I have always enjoyed relaxing under their warm glow, and soft hiss. The added heat they bring in the winter is nothing to scoff at either.

So I wrote, and read under the lights as the lightning surrounded the cabin and the resulting thunder pounded down upon the hills.


The Fox

I had seen where a critter had broken through some screening on a porch out at the lake cabin, and promptly jumped down the steps to go check it out. When I looked up, I caught sight of a fox running down the boardwalk towards me.

It was black. And red. A beautiful mix. I came to a halt to admire the fox’s coloring. The fox froze too. Then I said, “You have to be the most beautiful fox I’ve seen today.” I swear, it blushed, but it was only one side of its face. The red side. It was like looking at a springer spaniel, but with large swaths of both colors, equally mixed across the body. And with a pointy nose, ears, and a great bushy tail that was tipped in white.

We watched each other for a moment, when a red squirrel, who apparently could not stand the tension, chattered noisily at the fox’s right. The fox instinctively pounced at the sound, but the squirrel was already off and running under the boardwalk. The fox then pounced to its left, where the squirrel had run, only to suddenly come up short, remembering that I was standing in front of it.

In what looked like a moment of pure exasperation, the fox pounced forward, and then ran right down the boardwalk, straight at me. I back peddled up one step, but then stood my ground. I could not out maneuver it anyway.

At the steps, the fox hopped off the boardwalk, and looked up at me. It really was an absolutely stunning animal. We stood looking at each other, mere feet apart. I had brought two film cameras, and I had the cell phone, but all three were sitting inside the cabin. I knew I should have waited a day before I thought about work.

I slowly edged my way up to the landing and reached the door; the fox had its eyes on me the entire time. As soon as I opened the door, the fox thought better of our proximity, and trotted off into the woods. It did not run off; it trotted. Totally composed, with its head held high, and its tail straight out behind it in defiance.

Photo above: A red and black fox from Unalaska, who claims to have never left the island, nor visited the lake cabin.


Bear with me

Some blog housekeeping:

Upon my return from the lake, I found that WordPress has finally forced me to use their new editor. I have avoided it, ignored it, and found loopholes around it for months now. The demons finally got me when I had my back turned while trout fishing. I hate the new editor and I hate it with a passion. I simply do not have the free time to learn the ins and outs in the summer months. Things could be interesting in the meantime.

To further add to my frustration, my internet connection seems to have slowed to a torturous crawl when I was away. My provider sent me an email today admitting that it seemed slow, but that there were no lines down.

I thought that a bit obvious, since I have service, just slower than postal service. That part of the equation may take a while, as we live in our own time zone up here.

Hopefully, I will continue to just bull my way through it until I get it all figured out, before I’m forced to use a newer editor, but if I get cranky and disappear for days at a time, don’t be surprised, and don’t send out a search party. I’ve either gone back to the lake, or gone back to my typewriter.

Cheers from Alaska


The waning of summer

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Fairbanks daylight; Graph by @AlaskaWX

Civil twilight ended on Sunday morning in Fairbanks. Monday was the first time since May 16th, that we have not experienced civil twilight at night. All night.  Basically, during civil twilight, the sun is just below the horizon, which allows for most outdoor activities to take place without artificial lights. As if to punctuate that fact, when I returned home from the working-fishing trip, my security light came on for the first time in months.

Sigh.

Fairbanks community wood pile

I needed one more truckload of firewood to put me over the top for the coming burning season, so I went the easy route and picked one up. The wood has now been hauled, split and stacked. It’s a good feeling to have all those BTU’s piled up outside the cabin. I’m ready for a cold winter, but if we have a mild one like last year, I’ll have quite a bit left over.

Fireweed past bloom

 

Fireweed is our unofficial harbinger of darkness. The plant blooms from the bottom to the top. When we reach the peak of the fireweed blossom, like we have right now, residents of Interior Alaska feel a natural sense of apprehension. Summer is nearing its end; winter is close at hand.

What about autumn in the Interior? It’s beautiful, and to be honest, September is my favorite month up here. With a little luck, autumn could last a good 3-4 days.


A break for the lake

Heading out in a loaded canoe

I took several days “off” last week to head out to a local lake at a client’s request. They wanted me to check the place out, and see if it needs any work, and I wanted to wet a line or two and try for some trout.

Before I made even a dozen paddle strokes from the landing, I had an eagle flying overhead. It was high enough, and the sun bright enough, that I wasn’t sure if it was a golden eagle, or an immature bald eagle, but that didn’t seem to matter anyway. I was just happy to be out on the water, in a newly repaired canoe, away from cell phones, email and texts.

“When will you be back in town?”

My answer: “I have no idea. When the fish stop biting, I guess.”


Apollo 11: Splashdown


Navy Seals from the USS Hornet (in background) approach the Apollo 11 capsule after splashdown; Photo credit: NASA

After a successful moonwalk EVA, the crew of Apollo 11 returned to Earth on 24 July 1969, eight days after launching from Cape Kennedy.

Splashdown occurred 812 miles from Hawaii, and only 12 miles from where the USS Hornet was stationed, waiting to recover the crew.

The mission duration was officially 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds from launch.

The three man Apollo 11 crew was scrubbed, disinfected and remained in quarantine for 21 days after their return.

Commander Neil Armstrong passed away on 25 August 2012. Fellow Apollo 11 astronauts, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin were front & center for many of the 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Michael Collins’ book: Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys, is one of the very best written by an astronaut.