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January 23, 2010 - 12:50pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in fishing, outdoors, Alaska, rafting.

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That’s Tim Sawyer  rerigging his fishing gear. Minutes earlier, something inhaled the Spin ‘N Glo tied to the end of his line and raced downstream a ways before breaking water. When the  fish breached the surface, we saw that it was a big king salmon, tinted red with age, and boy, did it launch itself out of the water. It didn’t flop about, but rather had its body perfectly parallel to the river surface, high above the water and facing downstream. Kind of looked like a big muscle with fins - then it crashed back into the river and kept going. The fish had no doubt spawned in this same stream, spent the next 4-5 years at sea gorging itself on anchovies and the like. Its biological clock said it was time to return to the place of its origin and procreate. Chasing down Tim’s lure had put a temporary halt to those plans. The fish made one long run and the battle was at a standstill. The line was still taught, but there was no movement. The big fish had wrapped the line around submerged brush before continuing on its way.

January 21, 2010 - 8:17pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in fishing, outdoors, Alaska.

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artic circle.jpgThe spring of 1997 had been quite damp in Batavia, gloomy even by Western New York standards. Still, I was surprised to get my first tan of the year inside the Arctic Circle. Not to be confused with the polar ice cap at its northern extreme, much of the Arctic Circle is full of lush growth, crystal-clear rivers, mountains and, during the month of June, 24 hours of sunlight. During our stay the sun was visible 24 hours. Each morning, between midnight and one a.m., the sun would skim the horizon before once again beginning its ascent. 

January 20, 2010 - 11:33pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, Alaska.

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close trees mts.jpgThrough the courtesy of Lester and John Lines, the owners & operators of the Aurora Mining Company, Tim Sawyer and I had set up our camp on Harrison Creek in the East Crazy Mountains of east-central Alaska.

petes creek.jpgThis being grizzly country, we armed ourselves accordingly, carrying a high powered rifle and a .44 magnum wherever we went. A couple weeks before our arrival, seven grizzlies had been spotted ambling down the grassy slope of Mastodon Dome (so called for the prehistoric remains once unearthed on the site). All seven bears eventually made their way to the Lines’ camp, passing through without incident. An avid hunter, Tim had seen the big bears up close, the previous year taking a grizzly measuring nearly nine feet.  

January 19, 2010 - 5:37pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, Alaska.

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big mts.jpgThe seven hour flight was nearly at an end, and only then did I bother to look out the window. Looking down I noticed the glare of the sun, reflected off the snow and ice-capped peaks of the Wrangell Mountains. It was 10:30 pm. I wouldn’t experience darkness again for a month.

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