Although it was great to hear from Bob again, the news wasn't so good. He has been having a lot of bad luck and he said this leg of the trip has been the toughest so far - even worse than the Chilkoot Pass.
While in Fort Yukon, Bob talked to at least a dozen people about the Chandalar River and they ALL said it was impossible to paddle by canoe and too dangerous even for people with motor boats. They almost had Bob convinced that he shouldn't test his luck and play it safe and just stay on the Yukon River, but Bob knew he had to at least try. His first day on the Chandalar River went well, the second day he wasn't so lucky. The gradient kept getting steeper and steeper and the river was loaded with "sweepers." On day 3 on the Chandalar River, Bob's canoe capsized. Bob is very thankful that he managed to save his canoe, but he did lose his push pole, bear spray, bug head net, and wrecked the battery pack from his solar panel.
Going up the West Fork was extremely difficult and at times Bob had to portage and pull his canoe up the dry, rocky stream bed. Bob was very excited to reach the South Fork and get to see the cabin he built when he was in Alaska in 1989. He was very disappointed to find that the cabin had been burned down. He said it looked like his cabin and site had been used often, probably by moose hunters. At least his outhouse was still standing!
By the time Bob started paddling again, he was very low on food. He had been rationing his food for about a week and only had suppers remaining. He made it to the Haul Rd. and was able to get some food from travelers/campers to tide him over until he could pick up his food packages. Unfortunately he also got the stomach flu from one of these travelers, and spent a few days recovering from that. Feeling "icky" and weak, Bob continued paddling so he could make it to Allakaket to pick up his food packages. His next stop will be St. Mary's to pick up more food and hopefully rest up a little.
We think of Bob everyday and hope he is healthy and happy. We are counting down the days until we hear from him again! Until next time....
Cassie & Kayla