Wood Tikchik Lakes

After hydrology fieldwork near the Pebble deposit, Cathy and I kayaked 80 miles through Wood Tikchik State Park in Southwest Alaska. The Tikchiks have five connected lakes and host an absurd amount of fish. The fish bring anglers from around the world to stay at places like Tikchik Narrows and the Agulowak Lodge. 

The Pebble Deposit is the largest copper and gold deposit in North America. Located in Bristol Bay, Pebble sits at the headwaters of the world's largest runs of salmon. History shows that gold mines sterilize rivers. 

Rick Grant of Tikchik Airventures flew us to Silver Horn of Lake Beverley. He hauled some kayaks out of the bushes and we paddled into Silver Horn. Conditions were too rough to fly into Lake Kulik.  

The crippling beauty of Alaska. Cathy at our cook tent in Silver Horn of Lake Beverley. The beaches were crammed with spawning reds. Native trout, grayling and dolly varden eat the salmon eggs and get huge. We tried fishing but baby grizzlies kept popping out of the bushes and scaring us away from the river outlets where the fishing is best.  

Sockeye Red salmon clogging and spawning the beaches of Silver Horn. 

"Fishing" on Lake Nerka. I've had better luck with a dipnet. Whatever. Mom always told me not play with food. 

Despite thick bushes surrounding Tikchik Lakes, we got into the alpine above Silver Horn. 

We knew nothing about sea kayaking. At first the paddling was pleasant. 

Storm squalls in a super-soggy summer.  

Camp three on an island on Lake Nerka. Less bears on islands. After this we didn't take photos for 36 hours. Raging storms are photogenic, but not good for cameras. 

After nine harrowing hours of headwind, waves and monsoon rain we came to GCI's Agulowak Lodge. The five-star buildings seemed deserted. Five days earlier a DeHavilland Turbo Otter left this lodge and plowed into the Muklung Hills killing five. Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens was on board. Alaska misses Uncle Ted. He cared about Alaska and it's people. Ted was against Pebble. 

The storm was the worst the lodge manager had ever seen. He offered us the luxury garage. We cranked up the wood stove. He brought us a bottle of wine and we dried out. Cathy read and I laid on the floor staring at the ceiling, too crushed to move from nine hours of headwind paddling. 

Better weather on our final day of paddling down the Agulowak River to Aleknagik. I find Cathy particularly hot in her dry suit. 

The sun was shining back in the town of Aleknagik where our trip finished. Rain the day before swamped most boats and raised the lake level by two feet. Alder bushes rose from submerged beaches like mangroves. Our trip was 80 miles over six days.