Monday, September 21, 2009

Cowboy in a New Jungle

A few weeks ago Montana's archery season started. On 15 September Montana's elk, deer and new wolf season started in the back country. On 17 September the Great Falls Tribune reported that Perry Zumwalt had taken the first wolf in Montana's wolf season. Zumwalt shot the wolf in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area of southern Montana. (The story can be found here.) Montana's general five-week elk and deer season begins on 25 October. (More information on Montana's hunting seasons can be found here.) A lot of outdoor activities are going on in Montana, but I won't be participating this year.

If you have read this blog before, you may have noticed I haven't made a real post since July. There have been a few informational posts, but nothing substantial. The reason? I am moving to Alaska on 23 September.

Between July and now, my wife and I have been selling stuff--even sold the horse that was born on this patch of ground five years ago, made a trip to Wrangell, Alaska and have been discussing if we should sell our property here or rent it. An entire humorous blog post could be made about the marital discussions that have developed!! Maybe more than one.

Looking up the Stikine River.

We are going from the windy, clear skies of Montana to the fairly calm, cloudy skies of Wrangell, Alaska. Our home here gets about 13 inches of precipitation each year. Wrangell gets about 80. From elk, deer, bear and bighorns to moose, bear, elk--yes there are elk on Etolin and Wrangell Islands, Sitka blacktail deer, salmon and halibut. From wide open roads and highways to an island that is 30 miles long, by 13 miles wide.

It will be a big change, but something that has been developing for quite a while.

Strange the way things work out. When I made my last real post, which was going to be my last blog post, I said that I was waiting for another experience to come along. (Find it here.) Well, a day or two later it came--a trip to Alaska.

Looking south on the Stikine River delta.

On our trip to Wrangell, Wende and I took a boat to Etolin Island for a hike to Kunk Lake and another boat trip up the Stikine River. Wrangell has some noteworthy distinctions: the only town in North America that has been under four 'flags,' Tlingit Indians, Russia, Great Britain and the United States; one of the jump-off points for the Yukon gold rush and the Cassiar gold rush; and, Wrangell may have been seen as a place for "toughs," since Wyatt Earp was its temporary sheriff for only 10 days.

Seals in the Stikine delta.

The toughness of the area can be seen as one travels up the Stikine River, the longest undammed river in North American. Its delta is nearly 16 miles wide, filled with sandbars, uprooted trees and quite a few seals. The river itself flows where glaciers used to prowl, and on our trip we visited Chief Shakes Glacier.

Ice bergs below Chief Shakes Glacier.

The trip was too short. I am returning in two days. Wende is going to hold down the fort here for the winter as we "discuss" the merits of selling versus renting our property.

When I am settled, I will finish the drafts for this blog--Montana Elk Hunting, continue to add to it, and begin new installments on Alaska Adventures--my newest blog. It can be found here, although there are no posts yet.

Chief Shakes Glacier.

In the July post that seemed to start this new adventure, I compared waiting for a new adventure with sitting on a runway in Panama waiting for a C130 that took my company to Puerto Rico. My Army buddies of the time referred to me as the muleskinner or made a connection to the Jimmy Buffet song, "Cowboy in the Jungle." As I pack my bags, I can hear that song again--this time I am going not to an equatorial jungle, but North America's largest temperate rainforest.