Category Archives: Life in Yakutat

What it is like to live year ’round in this VERY small community.

Winters in Yakutat

Pretty slow around here and hard to get motivated to do much (including blog).  But tonight is a very full moon rising over the end of runway 20.  And through all my heavy insulation in the hangar office,  you can hear the wolves howling.  They have been doing it for about a half hour now.  Life in Yakutat year ’round can be hard,  but moments like this put it all in perspective and remind me why I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And on that note…  Chris came back from Colorado about a week ago and immediately went fishing.  Well,  he went hiking anyway…  Hiked about 3/4th of the way up to the closure boundary and did not see a single fish.  Bummer for him,  but good news for the steelheaders coming later in April and May.  There are a handful of fish scattered around (I heard two of the 5 in the bridge hole were landed,  but those fish have vaporized),  but the run is not even close to starting to show.  Nothing like two years ago,  where February was pretty darned good and the run was basically over by mid-April…

Having some sleet and slush falling,  but not accumulating much.  Still a near zero snowpack,  which will make the river temp rise very quickly once we do see the warmth of April.  That is unless we get a big dumping,  which often happens in March.  Last year,  we had more fish in the river in Feb than we do now,  but 3 feet of late snow in March stalled the run and it ended up being relatively close to on-time.

Chris said the river looked perfect for fishing.  Good flow,  decent temperature.  Just no fish to be had.

And message to Doug Pautz and Wesley Reynolds…  Check your spam folders…  I answered your messages,  but I don’t think you got the reply…

Yakutat Land Sale November, 2018

The City and Borough of Yakutat is selling 5 lots located along Ocean Cape Road.  Two are directly on Ocean Cape Road,  while three are back behind on a platted,  but non-existent Water Tank Loop Road.  The “water tank” in question is upland from the Delta Western bulk facility.  These lots are along the road to the Ankau,  less than a quarter mile past The Mooring Lodge,  Delta Western and the AC grocery store.

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The deadline for the initial offering is December 3rd,  2018.  Before placing a bid,  check to see how far away basic utilities are from the lots.  My guess is they are within easy reach,  since the West and South Additions are beyond these lots and you can tie into water and sewer relatively easily compared to some of the other properties offered lately.  These look like pretty good lots!  Zoned “industrial”,  you can pretty much do anything you want with them…

Here is the complete packet on PDF:

CBY Land sale Nov 2018 (2)

City and Borough of Yakutat Elections 2018

Our local elections are coming up in about 3 weeks.  We have 7 positions open on the assembly and school board including the mayor position.  Go to the city office to register as a candidate.

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If you are looking to declare candidacy,  you have till September 26th at 5pm local to do so…  Election takes place October 16th.

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You can be the mayor of the largest city in the world (by area)…

A Glance Back at Steelhead Season

The July issue of the Alaska Sporting Journal had an article on the Situk.  Written by our friend Tony Ensalaco and features a photo of Tanis holding a nice-big-trophy…  beaver.  Also a nice picture of Ryan,  from the Glacier Bear,  holding a big steelie.  The magazine was a month late coming to newsstands,  so it is probably still on the shelf now.

If it is gone from the shelves and you missed it…  Here is a PDF of the article:

Alaska Sporting Journal 7-18 pg54

And some left-over steelhead pictures of Chris and Adam…

Sightings

Last night as I was driving into town,  something was in the middle of the road.  With my old fart deteriorating eyesight,  it looked like a very small child on a very small bike heading to Glacier Bear down the main road.  For those of you who haven’t been to Yakutat (and it always amazes me that the vast majority of readers haven’t…  How did you even find my blog and why?!?!),  the airport is about 3 1/2 miles from “downtown”.  Glacier Bear Lodge is about half-way to town.  Just before you reach “the intersection”,  there is a bridge that crosses Ophir Creek,  then it rises and does a small S-curve.  Then you are in town…

So this kid was just this side of the Ophir Creek bridge.  As I got closer,  I could see it was really a baby moose,  standing about 3 feet tall on his spindly legs.  He trotted off down the side road to the old Coast Guard station,  no sign of mom anywhere.  Hopefully she’ll find him,  but if not,  he’ll end up as food for wolves,  coyotes,  or bears.  Every spring out at the Italio cabin,  we would see fresh baby moose tracks running around with a cow,  then about a week or so later,  we’d see bear scat with baby moose hooves clearly visible.  It is a wonder anything can really survive out there!

Anyway…  I didn’t have a camera with me of course,  but here are some photos from several years ago when we stumbled upon a similarly sized moose calf out at the Italio.  We were driving the ATV back to the Dangerous River (about 7 miles from the cabin) and you could see tiny tracks all alone wandering all over the sandflats.  We came up to this little dehydrated/exhausted ball of fur on the sand.  He eventually stood up,  but didn’t run off.  He was at least two miles from the nearest tree,  so mom wasn’t going to find him out there.  My guess is he didn’t make it through the night.

Once in town,  I asked Fish and Game if it was legal for me to take him and feed him and keep him alive.  They wouldn’t tell me it was illegal,  but advised against it…  Too late by that time.  Hopefully this latest little guy will find his mom and have a chance survive.  This is a hard place to survive!

On this same trip to the cabin,  we also saw a bald eagle right along the surfline.  As we drove closer,  we discovered he was about to peck the eyes out of a tiny baby seal.  The mom seal was franticly darting back and forth about 50 feet off shore in the surf,  but obviously had no ability to get her stubborn child back into the water,  even with an eagle about to peck out his eyes!  So we gently shoo’d him back into the water and to his mom’s safe flippers.

It was a busy week for critters that week back in 2005 (isn’t Tanis adorable?)…  Right outside the cabin door,  there was a robin nest with a bunch of bright blue eggs…  There is so much life around here (and death).  What a place to live!  You can come and visit for a week,  but we get to live this every day of the year!  We have so many blessings.

Life in a Village

Ever since I was attacked via e-mail by someone over my website for my guide business that mentioned “waterfowl hunting” as a service (how could anyone hunt you evil person you…),  I have tried to be somewhat careful when blogging about some of the things we do around here.  Not for fear of getting verbally attacked by some PETAphile (they are pretty easy to wind up and drop),  but a lot of fly fishermen lean toward the foo-foo animal-lover crap that could be turned off by some of the realities of life in a remote Alaskan village.

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Hey,  if I’m gonna be shocking,  may as well start with this!  You are looking at two full chest freezers.

 

Ya,  I’m pretty much over that now.  If what we do and what I type bothers you,  please feel free to visit another website,  or another village for that matter…  Life is far too short to get worked up over things that have zero impact on you,  thousands of miles away from you.  Specifically,  trapping is something that built our nation,  brought the first people to most of North America and especially Alaska.  It is what clothed and fed our ancestors for thousands of year and without it,  most of the people who get upset over things like this wouldn’t exist to whine and protest,  because their great great great great grandparents would have died of exposure and/or starvation long before they produced whiny protesty offspring.

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Twin rodents going for a boat ride

 

That said,  although I’m not a trapper and don’t get a thrill out of killing animals,  I sure love to eat.  We subsistence hunt a moose every other year to feed our family and a few others in our community,  along with the salmon,  halibut,  clams,  shrimp,  ducks,  geese and other tasty critters that populate our neighborhood.  They all taste yummy.

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4 otter pelts drying on their stretchers,  with a couple beaver pelts on the left and beaver tails for making wallets on the right

 

But…  our family favorite remains beaver.  Tanis traps them for their fur,  but we save off the hind quarters and backstraps for a special treat.  We are planning to harvest more of the meat in the future,  because I think beaver will make an exceptional sausage without having to add suet.  The hindquarters have a lit of stringy tendons and cartilage running through them,  so we put them in a small pressure cooker for 20 minutes and the meat just falls away from the bones and tendons.  Backstraps just get sliced and fried as fajita meat,  or just eaten before it can escape the pan and onto a plate.  You don’t even get splinters in your tongue when eating beaver,  even though sawdust is all they eat…

I’ll do a separate post about Tanis’ trapping adventures,  but  a couple days ago he came back from floating the Situk with three respectable rodents in the truck.  Two were small and not worth the effort,  but the big one yielded about 1 1/2 pounds of backstrap.  Teen bought a new jumbo food processor this winter,  so we decided to shred the meat and make beaver burgers.  Too bad it only made two patties…  McDonalds doesn’t offer a 3/4 pounder?  They should!

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Moose is about as fat-free a meat as you can get.  It doesn’t make a patty that holds together unless you add a bunch of stuff (like fat,  oatmeal,  etc) to make it stick.  The nice thing about the food processor is it shreds the meat and holds together nicely.  But moose is a dull reddish brown,  pretty dark and lifeless looking when raw.  This beaver meat looked like it was glo-in-the-dark red with neon lights behind it.  Really weird looking.

But oh,  what a yummy burger!  Toasted bun,  swipe of horseradish,  smoked cheddar,  leaf lettuce,  tomato slice and half an avocado.  Unfortunately we’re all out of bacon,  but I don’t think even bacon could have improved on our beaver burger as I was.

Years ago when she was cute and little,  Eden made a special request for a special birthday dinner…  Beaver and brussel sprouts.  I’m raising very strange kids!

But they will be kids who will be able to survive WWIII and probably enjoy the journey.

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Yet More Land for Sale in Yakutat

The city is proposing yet another land sale.  This time,  two lots on the backside of Post Office Lake.  Both are on the water and one is of pretty good size.  Here is a PDF of the Resolution text for RES 18-299,  which will be voted on at the next Assembly meeting April 5th,  7pm.

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Page 14 has this map showing the location of the two lots…

LandLots

The small one is just over a quarter acre,  the large one just shy of three quarters.  Both look buildable if someone wants to put in Thomas Lane (which currently doesn’t exist).