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Bella – Devil’s Canyon River Boat Tour

by ATJ Posted in I ♥ Alaska, Off the Clock, Only in Alaska |

I had the best day off on Tuesday. The enclosed river boat had 18 passengers heading out for a five hour journey on the Susitna River, 130 miles round trip. It traveled at 35 mph wending its way through thickly forested shorelines. Eli was the young native pilot, and the two naturalists, Angela and Megan, very pretty young girls, also were mixed Eskimo and Athabascan native Alaskans.

The sun was shining, the sky was blue with a few wispy white clouds and the brisk breeze at the back of the boat made me feel like I was water-skiing backwards! I love the feel and the sound; I had it all to myself, as the others stayed inside in their seats. I love and revel in the rare and raw beauty of Alaska. Upon wildlife sightings, the boat stops at leisure for everyone to take pictures; some carrying large scope lenses for close-ups. The eagles are amazing. A swift glimpse of wolverine escaped my vision, but people were ecstatic.

We docked to go ashore and walked inland to a beaver cut clearing to see a Beaver Lodge, which is different from a Beaver Dam. These beaver actually created a lake-like environment and built a two story lodge on the bank of it. Interesting construction; water access, and a floor for bearing babies, and some porthole like windows which remind you of a fort.

Back aboard we are told to keep our eyes along the shoreline for sightings and to call out when something appears. The time goes by quickly just because of the sheer enjoyment of the surroundings. I had a feeling of pure contentment.

Another excursion ashore was to a re-created setting where the natives had built a lean-to shelter and a rock-ringed fire pit for warmth in front of it. Nearby was a rack for drying meats, a large hole in the ground for refrigeration, and a beaver trap. The ingenuity of its design is totally impressive. They put a dense heavy tree trunk resting upon the top of a six inch diameter trunk of the beaver’s favorite tree. When the beaver chews it through, it falls and the trunk lands on him. He is a goner. Voila! Food and clothing all in one catch.

There was also a trapper’s dugout cabin with a food cache beside it. Beaver, fox, marten, and bear pelts were also on display.

The highlight of the tour was reaching the rim of the canyon where the rapids begin. Fortunately, we remained above it but were treated to a taste of the thrill the rapid riders experience in abundance. Amazing power beneath you, just exciting enough, yet safe enough to think, “this is great!”

After eating the box lunch of roast beef & cheddar subs we were served, I couldn’t help but nod off now and then on our way back to Talkeetna.

It was the best day ever; after the glacier landing, of course, and I rambled through the town taking pictures and eating lemon meringue ice cream from Nagley’s on a park bench. The day ended the same way it started, on a Princess Coach to Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

I am blessed beyond any expectations; especially since I didn’t have any to begin with. Hope you’re enjoying the journey with me, though vicariously! Happiness to you all!

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