We emerge from our tent to find improved weather and a rainbow. We saw several during our time at the lake.
Those are caribou on the patch of snow. We never got too close to this bunch. They seemed to move randomly or are very smart at anticipating our movements.
Norm looks up at the steep peaks above the talus piles. Note that he has rolled his hip waders down to keep his pants dry from prespiration. The peaks are constantly shedding chunks of rock which litter the snow in front of him. It made no sense to climb into the fog, but on a clear day there would be a spectacular view.
This view looks west--down the Kisaralik. The route we would float the next day. We are up on the first tundra covered ridge.
Our cooking area is where the Kisaralik River leaves the lake. Here->
<--This speck in our tent, well away from the cooking area.
This shot is taken near the snow patch shown above. This is where we saw the two women walk around the lake to our camp. But we never met them face-to-face.
We watch one fox, four women and several caribou.
Alaska Diary: Day 3, September 2, 2001
This morning we were really socked in and could barely see across the lake through the fog. We got out of the tent anyway and went down to the tarp to eat breakfast. The tarp had blown down overnight as it had the night before. We had real difficulty in getting the little tent stakes to hold in the gravel. It was not the ideal way to begin the day. One person had to stand still holding up a pole while the other untied and retied knots in the wet rope--something that could not be done with gloves. When it was finally up, it broke the wind but both of us were pretty chilled. This morning, as we drank our tea and coffee, a red fox with a bushy tail with a white tip trotted by on a route along the edge of the lake. It saw us but never broke stride. I watched until it was out of sight way around the lake.
It was so miserable that we headed back to the tent and did some more reading and dozing. The sun came out around 11:00 and we struggled into our hip waders and emerged in time to see a complete 180° rainbow. We saw some caribou across the river and decided to row the raft to the opposite side instead of wading. We stayed out in the lake away from the current and tied up on the beach.
We tried sneaking up on this small herd of caribou but did not have much success. At one point they ran up on top of the next ridge and we saw that it was too much work to go off our ridge and try to circle around behind them. So we started climbing up toward the peaks that overlook the lake. The ground undulated more than it appeared from below. After passing out of the tundra and onto the bare rock talus piles, we made our way to a snow pile that overlooked the lake. The view was fantastic and we could see two of the women had hiked around the lake and were almost at our camp. We hoped they were leaving cookies for us.
We started down heading directly for the lake. It was steep but it was easy walking. Water from the melting snow was trickling down. We came to an old caribou skeleton. I speculated that wolves had killed and eaten it because a leg was pulled away from the rest of the bones. Several ptarmigans flew up in this area. They were about half way through their seasonal color change--going from brown to white. We rowed the raft back and were disappointed not to find cookies. The sun was gone, the clouds were getting lower and the temperature was dropping so we headed for the tent. About three or three and a half hours later Norm realized it was almost dark and past our usual suppertime. I felt very comfortable and decided to stay put. Norm went to the tarp and ate quickly. As we drifted off to sleep, we spoke of starting down the river the next day.