Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pistons, Pitchers, & Pike

Well, spring is almost here, and I'm less than a week away from heading into Anchorage for the big event, so what this blog needs is one last good adventure story from this winter. Right?

So on Friday afternoon, Maria asked if I'd like to go fishing. "Of course," I said, not realizing (though I should have) that she didn't actually mean fishing around here, seeing as the pike haven't made their way this far upriver yet. She meant down on the Kuskokwim, as I soon learned. Either way, I was definately up for doing it, considering the snow and ice are fast melting, and that my remaining snowmachine days this year are numbered, and I'd pretty much take any excuse to get out and ride and do something fun before weather forces the machine into hiding for the summer.

The plan was to meet Christina and Erin in Bethel A.S.A.P., head down to the mouth of the Johnson past Napakiak, fish, and get home before dark. It was a good plan.

We got dressed and our stuff together, gassed up, and headed out. It's been pretty warm the last few days, and the trail was as smooth as I've seen it. And smooth, of course, equals fast. So we're making good time, and just a little past 2/3 of the way into town, when all of a sudden I see Maria fall off behind me. Her machine just died. Started to sound weird, then just lost power. So we check it out, and right away it looks bad, but we though maybe she'd just overheated. We let it sit for a while, and it got better, but still wouldn't stay running. Long story short, a guy that happened by did an impromptu test of the cylindars, and yeah, looks like she dropped a piston. Which sucks. So we knew we had to get her machine either back to Nunap or into Bethel for repairs, and so it didn't get stolen or stripped if left it on the trail overnight. We tried hauling it with my machine, but pulling it, with both of us, was really straining my engine and the though of having both machines broken down on the trail was scary enough for me to convince Maria to hop on with me and head into Bethel and figure out a solution from there.

When we got to Bethel we met up with Christina, as well as some folks we didn't know were going to be there. Not to mention, certain refreshments we weren't expecting, as well. So after, ahem, refreshing ourselves, Maria and a small crew headed out to wrangle her machine into town, while the rest of us continued to...refresh. At this point, we knew we weren't going to be doing any fishing Friday night, and after comtemplating heading back to Nunap, I decided to head down with Christina, Erin, and Maria to Oscarville and crash there. We still didn't know how Maria was going to get her machine fixed, or exactly how she'd be getting back to Nunap, but we did still want to try to get some fishing in. So, after a slight gas issue in the parking lot of the Bethel post office, and a visit with Bethel's finest out on patrol, we made it down to Oscarville around 2am and caught some sleep.

On Saturday morning, Maria got a hold of the repair shop (where she had just had her machine tuned up a week before!), and got them set to pick up and work on her machine, as well as getting a hold of our Principal, who with her husband was going to be headed to Napaskiak and back to Nunap in the afternoon. We made tentative plans to meet up with them and ride back together in the early evening, so we knew we had a few hours to head out fishing. We got our stuff together and headed out down the river about 10 miles, past Napakiak to where the Johnson comes into the Kuskokwim. There were probably half a dozen spots where people were fishing, with dozens of families out at each spot, but eventually we found who we were looking for and settled in to try to catch some pike.

One of the reasons I was really excited to get out ice fishing for the first time this spring, was to try out my new hand auger that I'd gotten back a little while ago. So I un-strap it from the back of my machine, screw it together and start drilling. And drilling. And resting. And drilling some more. Well, I don't know how deep was in the spot where I was drilling, but it was at least 44 inches, because that's the length (I measured) from the tip of the blades to the handle, at which point I couldn't turn it any more. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself! But luckily, the people we met up with had some extra holes cut, so we just hopped on into those. It was a nice day on the river, and the fish were biting at a steady pace. Not an overwhelming bite, but enough to keep it interesting. I got five in the hour and a half or two hours we were out there, including a couple pretty good sized fish (nose to tail about the same length as my pole, so about 24"), and everyone else was catching at roughly the same rate.

After a couple hours, as I said, it was time to head back to meet up with our Principal and her husband to head back to Nunap. Maria rode in the sled they'd brought stuff down in, and proceeded to get drenched as there was a lot of water on the trail. But it was another smooth, fast ride, spooking up flocks of ptarmigan every few miles. Had I been thinking, I'd have brought my shotgun along too. But all in all, I was really glad that despite the drama and the "quick trip" becoming an overnight adventure, it was really great to hang out with Christina and Erin, to get all "refreshed" with Lee and some other coworkers, and definitely worth it to get out and do some fishing. Because hey, I leave for Anchorage on Friday! Not only is this likely my last snowmachine outing of the season, it's my last spontaneous trip before fatherhood strikes!

So yeah. Good times :-P

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Your new look fits the scene well. Have a safe and exciting trip up to Sara!