Taku 2021 - 1: Firsts
May 25 - 29


Spring on the river

Photo Album

I'm listening to a hermit sing and gazing out at a mat of slightly greening vegetation and patches of snow. It is late May, and early spring on the Taku. Following a frenetic week (or weeks in the case of my mother) of activity, we managed to pull out of the harbor just after 11:00 am, right on time, and met up in the channel to open our drinks and ceremoniously get underway. Both the Ronquil and the Kathy M were loaded down and we were all relieved to be underway at last. The sky was mercifully sunny, the wind and seas as forecast, variable and 1', respectively. The Kathy M occupants didn't feel a thing, but Cailey and I got kicked around every which way by the little waves until we were well into the river (the northwesterly coming down the channel manifested into wind off the glacier). That said, Cailey did spend most of the trip curled on her blanket in the sun, so it couldn't have been that bad. I, followed the route from two points past Scow Cove to the bottom of the Taku Point rocks, though wound up father downstream than intended. We took the sandbar against the meadow slowly, the Kathy M only touching bottom briefly twice. As I puttered I saw a male Barrow's goldeneye and two females (the first male of many goldeneyes I've seen up here?) and a couple of beautiful male mallards. The meadows were brown with a hint of green shining where the vegetation was just coming up. Willows were budding.

We arrived at the property at 1:30 and decided on using the original landing site. There was a slight beach upriver, but no easy way to get up and down the bank there. I briefly anchored the Ronquil and tied a line to the Kathy M and we offloaded her in no time, me on the boat, Mom in the middle, Jia Jia on the bank while the dogs looked on. Then my Mom went out to anchor while Jia Jia and I unloaded the Ronquil. Again, the sun was extremely welcome with all our various gear and a lot of lumber. Then we both set anchor, staggered a little, along the shore, Mom picked me up, and Jia Jia drug us in. We hauled one load of gear up to the cabin, opened the shutters, started the pilots on the stove, and collapsed for a snack lunch of giant scones I'd made the day before, havarti, chips, chocolate chip cookies, and sparkling drinks at 3:00. It was safe to say we were exhausted (at least Mom and I), but pleased and relieved to be here.

After a brief rest, we set to work bringing our gear up to the cabin. Jia Jia hauled all the 8' lumber by hand while my mom and I tried and failed to start the 4-wheeler. Both batteries had been charged just a week prior, but neither would even turn the lights on let alone start the engine. We found a third in Alder that had similar results. We met up with Jia Jia carrying her last piece of lumber; she and I made two or three trips with the two-wheel cart, bringing up everything but the rest of the lumber, the gas, and the propane tank, while my mother heroically cleaned the inside of the refrigerator which had suffered from an exploded diet root beer a few years ago. As dinner warmed in the oven, we unpacked our perishables into the sparkling fridge and then tried to start it. It lit well enough with a match, but instead of lighting the little pilot, it made a halo of flame all around it, and would not stay lit when we let go of the pilot button. Jia Jia and I filled tubs of snow from the bank outside and placed them among the food, then buried the drinks in the same snow bank while my mother first searched for the manual and then, failing that, did her best to clean out the pilot area from accumulated soot and dust. When I joined the project, she had removed quite a lot of debris but was looking for a way to blow into the secreted pilot. I rolled up a piece of paper from one of the surveys I'd printed and blew into it until debris stopped falling. To all our surprise, the pilot immediately lit, if somewhat dimmer than we expected (though none of us could remember exactly what it looked like before) and the fridge was off and running. Having actually brought quite a few perishable items, it was a relief, and always good to get long-dormant systems going.

We ate delicious scalloped potatoes my mom made with asparagus, then opened a beautiful gift of dried fruit my aunt had given her for her birthday. Beneath it was a wooden tray that turned into an adorable hanging basket that we filled with mandarins and which is sitting in the window in front of me. Later in the evening, we watched several episodes of Taskmaster series 2 and went to bed. I slept restlessly with both legs bothering me until I got up to go to the outhouse at 2:00, then felt better once I got back to sleep. Up at 7:45, I'm about to go check on the boats before some breakfast and perhaps special coffee.

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We lingered over the morning. My mom opened her birthday presents and birthday cards and we were enjoying a little well-deserved leisure. When we did get going, sharp at 11:00, we were at the landing and ready to try to put floats in the water. My mom cut Jia Jia and I short pieces of rope to help pull the floats, then cut longer pieces to secure them once in the water. We carried down both long aluminum poles which were designed to haul the riverboat and other things out of the water (but had only been used once) and placed them to help guide the floats over the roots and stumps and into the river. Only after they were in did we realize/remember that they were in two sections and nothing was holding them together. It wasn't a problem for the moment, but was likely to be as we pulled them out. Jia Jia and I found that the 3x5 sections of float were really easy to pull across the ground to the poles. Lifting them up onto the ends of the poles was reasonable with Jia Jia and I on either end of the front and my mom on the back, and it worked fairly well except that all three sections got hung up on one of the trees sticking out over the bank on the way down. But surprisingly fast, the three main sections were floating and tied to shore. We carried WD-40 and the special tool down to the closest dock section and my mom threw down the pins that hold them all together. After a bit of confusion, we figured out how they all fit together by looking at the key on the corner of each float--one, two, three, or four dots which denote the order from top to bottom of the corners that fit together. This dictated which side of the floats adjoined. Most of the confusion was because one of the corners had come loose and I'd refastened it in the wrong order. My mom lubricated each pin and, amazingly, we had all three floats joined and happily floating in an hour and 40 minutes. It was much easier and less stressful than using the 4-wheeler.

In an effort to avoid getting our eating schedule too far off, we broke at 12:40 and had a lunch of quesadillas, then headed out on a walk of the loop, picking up five camera cards on the way. We were surprised to find that much of the trail was covered in snow drifts up to five feet tall, so we spent a lot of time tromping up and down the thankfully-hard-packed mounds. Lowlands were swamped with water, pools forming between drifts and flooding trails. Higher ground looking pleasantly like park land with a sheen of green where the vegetation was just coming up. We didn't see many birds, but heard orange-crowned warblers, yellow warblers, robins, and fox sparrows. When we got back there was time for a little more work before dinner and, partly at my urging, we decided to continue work on the floats with the idea of finishing its assembly that day. Jia Jia and pulled down one 2x4 section of floats to connect the main assembly to shore and Mom tied on a line to secure it. We lifted it up as we had the others and down it went. As it slid my mom let out a cry, flipped to the side, and crashed to the ground, groaning in pain. Somehow the short line had caught her leg, twisted it and thrown her down painfully. Her right leg was bent at the knee awkwardly beneath her, so I made a quick decision and straightened it in the hope that it would feel better, but she was in agony. There was little we could do and, once she recovered enough to talk, she couldn't move from the spot. I got her some Aleve, water, and a little later some chocolate and a cold can of bubbly to either drink or place against the leg (she chose the latter). Unable to help her more, Jia Jia and I worked a little more, which first required us to rescue the floats we'd just slid to the river. Amazingly, its line doubled back on itself, creating a sturdy hook, which had caught on the Kathy M's stern line as the floats glided it. Otherwise, they'd have been half way out of the river by then. I loosened the upriver line on the floats and Jia Jia pulled herself out until she could reach them. She guided them around the outside of the main float and we soon had them secured as a walkway to shore. By then it was time to quit and figure out how to get my mom back to the cabin. She was in excruciating pain whenever she moved, especially standing up, and supporting her between us for the walk back was not a possibility. I helped hold her up while Jia Jia fetched the two wheel cart. My mom gingerly sat on the edge of it and then worked her way in and we pushed her up to the cabin, wincing with her at all the roots. Thankfully, the patches of snow between us and the cabin had greatly diminished since the day before both by melting and our steps and wheels through it. She was smiling and in good spirits despite the pain. When we got to the cabin we had no choice but to help her inside upright and to the chair. She was very chilled and soon shaking. I was concerned about shock, but I read my little first aid guide I keep in my adventure pack and she had none of the symptoms, so managed to convince me that she didn't need an immediate medivac. Jia Jia lit a fire and filled a bag of snow to put on the knee, then fetched the drill and her phone from the landing in case it rained while I changed the propane tank, as the pilots had gone out. Once lit, we added a hot water bottle to the blankets over my mom and she eventually warmed up. Not up for cooking, and still missing the hamburger spices I'd brought up, I heated up Mom's lasagna for dinner and we ate late. Jia Jia and I helped my mom to the bathroom and later to bed, none of which was very comfortable for her.

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It was a hard night for sleeping. I was, admittedly, angry about the injury and the implications for this trip and possibly for the summer. We had no way of knowing what had happened to the knee other than that there didn't appear to be a break. Most of the pain was concentrated at the top of the shin and most of the discomfort occurred while it hung or when she tried to extend it. I got up at 12:30 to use the outhouse and take some ibuprofen for my aching leg, then slept better until about 8:30. My mom was feeling a little better and, over the next day, Jia Jia and I progressed from "hopping" with her, supporting her on either side a short distance at a time, to simply carrying her between us, which was more comfortable for everyone, and she was able to scoot across the floor reasonably as well when needed. We had another long morning inside before getting to work, during which I made (pretty delicious) pancakes for everyone and washed the dishes. The sun peered in and out of fluffy clouds and the day was a fine one for working. Jia Jia and I set up my mom in a camp chair on the porch (which I'd bought for my dad for the same reason, but had never been used), bundled up, to oversee Jia Jia and I as we built the water tower. My mom had precut all the lumber for it in town, so the hard part was done. I went through drawings of it with her to figure out how it would be put together and we came up with a plan. By 12:30 we had an absolutely beautiful and fully-constructed water tower standing in front of the porch. I made chicken havarti sandwiches for lunch which we feasted on them with cherries, chips, and champagne, the lunch I'd intended for her birthday picnic in the meadow.

After lunch we helped my mom back inside, then Jia Jia and I set to work digging holes to secure the water tower in the same area the water barrel had been before, on the ground and subject to naughty bears. In fact, we used the two holes where the stakes had been driven to stabilize it. Except we wanted holes 18" deep, so we utilized my mom's amazing little auger drill bit which somehow a cordless drill can power! We did have to cut through a layer of roots on the back two holes before we could use it, but then it drilled down easily, loosening the sand which we then pulled up with spade and hand. Jia Jia set the tape at 18" and, when they were all about the right depth, we gently lowered it in. It was already almost perfectly level, and a tiny nudge got it perfect. We'd carefully made sure the whole structure was square when we screwed in the frame, so the legs were nice and plumb. We hastily filled in around them and cheered the beautiful tower. After giving my mom an update, and a diet root beer for me, we installed the barrel at the top and set about securing it up there, starting with the two 2x4 stakes that it had been wrapped with on the ground (which had created two of the holes we'd used). They fit flush against the upright posts between the gaps in the decking, which was perfect, but there wasn't room for the olive barrel between them if I put them on opposite corners, which was my first inclination. Instead, we put them both on the back of the tower, turning the stakes upright which we both agreed was aesthetically pleasing. Then I tied the line around them over an indentation in the top of the barrel and soon had it snugly secured. Then all we had to do was fix up the catchment. Unfortunately, nothing we did could get the filter to fit back into the center of it where it is meant to trickle through to keep out needles and other debris, so my mom directed me to some mosquito screen that we were able to put between the catchment and the lid section it screws into just below, which I think will do the trick. We screwed the catchment to the lid, then, after awkwardly carrying it up the ladder (using the no-stop top step), screwed the lid to the barrel. Because of bear damage, the catchment flops around like that, so Jia Jia provided firewood to support it upright until we found the right combination of large chunks of alder. And we had a fully functional and great looking water tower!

Meanwhile, we were surrounded by spring birds including a lot of ruby-crowned kinglets, varied thrushes, hermit thrushes (especially in the evening),
Townsend's warblers, and probably yellow warblers. I saw the outline of a flycatcher at the top of a spruce tree, there are sandpipers on the river, and robins in the meadow. Oh, and there was the Eurasian collared dove that flew onto the porch railing just outside the window, giving us a magnificent look at her before she flew away.

After a break, Jia Jia and I went to unload the soil and peat moss from the Kathy M and discovered a nightmare of logs and debris piled against both boats. The Ronquil had snagged a large log on its stern line, which in turn grabbed more logs and debris, and pulled the boat close to shore not far above the floats. The Kathy M had apparently pulled anchor from the debris and was downriver of the floats, having reached the end of its stern line and apparently reanchored on the way, close to shore and broadside to the current. I was able to loosen the upriver line on the floats and pull it up close enough to reach the mass of logs and debris on the Ronquil but not quite close enough for Jia Jia to free the stern line from the largest log's branch, which was holding it taut. She was very close to pushing it free with the handle of the large hoe we had on hand from putting the floats together, but there was a side branch that prevented it. I tied off the line and hopped down, my extra few inches of size enabling me to finish the job. With that we could push all the logs out, but just as I was about to jump aboard to rescue the Kathy M I realized that I had neither boat key, so I fetched them and updated my mom. Back at the landing, the Ronquil was back in the current away from shore and it took a lot of pulling on its stern line to bring it close enough to a log on shore I could use to access it (mostly because it kept getting its prop stuck in a spruce tree just downriver). Once aboard, I pulled anchor with great effort. I could make no progress by hand, and it took several minutes pulling with force from the engine in various directions before it finally came free of the river bottom. I floated down beyond the Kathy M, tied the Ronquil to it, and hopped aboard. I tried to pull up to the anchor without freeing the stern line, but it was already at the end of it and I couldn't maneuver without stretching it dangerously (especially with Jia Jia on the floats) so I took the tension off and untied it, having Jia Jia pull it in from her side. I also had to use the engine to free that anchor, but with much less effort. Then I anchored the Kathy M back upriver and drifted down to the docks where Jia Jia threw me the stern line. I temporarily tied up the Kathy M there and Jia Jia and I easily unloaded and stacked all the soil and peat moss, six bags of each. It was the easiest part of the whole operation! I then loosened the stern line and drifted back into the current, anchored the Ronquil, and tied its stern line to the stern of the Kathy M, hopping from there to the float. In the end, the two boats were at anchor side by side adjacent to the floats. We'd arrived to unload the soil around 4:30 and headed back up around 6:30. Jia Jia and I decided that we were now at a positive 2, having started with the boats at negative 3 (losing ground), then not only correcting the problem but making some progress by unloading the bags and generally improving on the locations of the boats. I'd hoped to end the evening a little earlier and was pretty well exhausted by then, but managed to season and bake coho salmon, boil fresh green beans, and mix up some stove top stuffing, all of which turned out exceptionally well and was relished. At 7:15 a massive wall of brown hair moving past the downriver window caught my eye and I cried inarticulate directions for everyone to look out the window. I had seen an adult moose walking just next to the cabin! We all crowded to the window in front and I wiped the condensation away with my hand to help up see, especially my mom who could not reach it. She was the first to note that there was a second moose, and then a third, and both were smaller than the first. The cow heard our voices and paused to look toward us for a few moments before trotting away with her calves. Was it Matrushka, absent from our videos since last October? Whether her or another mother, she had raised twins to yearling age, a major accomplishment. And was oh so kind to wander by just as we were relaxing after dinner. Another first. Later I found moose prints starting on the path from the outhouse, past the new water tower (I wonder if she stopped to sniff), and down the trail half way to the waterfront where they made a 90 degree turn off the trail and into the woods downriver. Their hoof prints were deep and distinct, scuffing up the ground and, in one place, kicking off a sizable chunk of bark off a spruce root. We watched the rest of the game camera videos and went to bed.

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This time I slept well until 4:30 when I finally succumbed to my bladder and the roaring of the wind that had awakened me. It sounded ferocious and I thought I'd better check on the boats after using the outhouse. On the way, I ominously saw no sign of the Kathy M yet again, but on closer inspection found both boats pushed against shore by the strong southeasterly coming up the river, bow to stern just upriver from the floats. They were rocking comfortably in deep enough water just off shore, but a little too close and I watched as the bow of the Kathy M clanged against the Roquil's prop. There was not much I could do at that moment in the wind, so I let the boats be, only hopping down to the floats to tighten the stern line of the Kathy M (which it was pulling taught) to try to keep it downriver of the Ronquil and avoid contact if possible. The strong wind highly suggested an imminent rain storm, but it was only barely sprinkling at the time. I managed to fall back asleep eventually, but Jenny was up at 8:00 woofing to be let out, so I got up to do so and that was the end of sleep.

Leaving my mother with a fire going in the cabin and both dogs, Jia Jia and I headed down to the floats where we found the boats in the same location. Both had tangled their lines in the bushes at the water's edge and easily floated back into place when we pulled them loose. With that accomplished, our next tasks were to work on two engines: the generator and the water pump. We added fresh gas to the genset, turned it on, and pulled and pulled and pulled. To my surprise, we found the 4-wheeler in neutral, though I was certain it had been in 1st gear last year when I'd hooked up the barely-charged battery. Jia Jia and I easily pushed it back a foot or two until we could both stand by the generator and try pulling. I explained that normally it starts at just a pull or two, but this wasn't even trying to catch. A little disappointed, we moved on to the water pump, pulling back the heavy tarp, taking off the roof, adding gas, getting all the settings in place, filling the lower priming tank with a brand new special emergency foam plug my mom had found (the original plastic one no longer held water). We filled the tank and found that nothing was seeping out. The pump itself started without a hitch and we soon had water spitting at the hose junction on the hill and trickling into the tank. I kept touching the pump to make sure it wasn't getting hot. All of this was a good sign, but soon enough there was evidence that perhaps it was not moving water anymore, and indeed the trickling in the tank on deck had stopped. I shut off the motor and talked with my mom about trouble shooting. We eventually tried again, this time with the outlet hose off to see exactly what was exiting the tank. I took a video of it dripping out foamy water. We'd taken a tote and water jug down in the hopes of filling that directly from the pump, but we only got a couple of cups out before we stopped. From the video, my mom strongly suspects it is sucking air along the pipe from the well, and we made plans to take the pipe apart and regrease it before anything else. Unfortunately, that was one job we didn't wind up trying, so it remains to be seen if that will fix the problem.

But we did fix the generator. My mom remembered that we probably needed to turn the valve to the fuel on to get it started. When I got back down there I realized that the switch I'd turned on WAS the fuel valve, but that I hadn't turned the actual ON switch on. It started without a hitch and I ran it for a little while. That afternoon we started work on the garden box. Again we moved my mom onto the porch all bundled up, but she was very uncomfortable. We managed to build one of the long walls, quickly running through two drill batteries. I started the generator again and began charging the dead batteries using both our chargers (we have the same drill) directly from the genset, as I couldn't quickly find the extension cord to plug in that connects to the cabin, and continued with one of my batteries. Once again I'd hoped to end the evening at a more reasonable hour, and once again failed as we tried to do more work. On the second wall, we discovered that one of the two horizontal 2x4s that tie the corner posts together had been marked but not cut, so we opened up Fox Hole and happily found the skilsaw there. We carried the 2x4 to the generator and I cut the end of the board off with an extremely reluctant skilsaw. I think the brake release button for the thumb might be really stiff, and I felt lucky to get the saw going long enough to make the cut. We got both horizontals tacked in and called it a night.

My stress levels had returned as my mom's pain did not diminish and her foot was wanting to stick out a little to the right. I make bison burgers for dinner, the first time in years I think, and they turned out extraordinarily delicious and all two pounds were devoured. For dessert I made a Krusteaz crumb cake with tart cherries and we ate 3/4s of it. After dinner we discussed in detail the possible ways to return to town. Eventually everyone was convinced that getting my mom to the landing (a large and painful expedition), then down the vertical slope, then onto the floats, then onto the boat, then driving for two hours in who-knows-what kind of seas was not a good option if there were other choices. We decided I would return to town on the tide on Saturday and come back with a helicopter Sunday morning, sending my mom home and coming back with the Kathy M that afternoon. At 8:10 I checked on the boats and found them riding well in the river, if rocked about by the intense southeastly once again roaring up the river. This time there were white caps on the river and big seas that might have been over a foot (a lot for a river). I don't use the term lightly, but I described the conditions to my mom and Jia Jia as N-A-S-T-Y nasty. I hoped it would improve overnight, as there was no way I would go out in seas like that. I came back to find my mom, Jia Jia, and Cailey all snuggled on the couch. I joined them and we watched the rest of Taskmaster series 2 and went to bed a little later than usual.

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I made it until 7:00 before I had to get out of bed, checking on the boats after using the outhouse. I went back to bed after that, not seeing any reason to start the day early and extremely exhausted. I dozed a little, then got up around 9:00. As I warmed scones in the oven for breakfast and got my mom a cup of coffee, I broached again the topic of getting my mom out. I'd laid in bed the night before increasingly uneasy about the amount of time we'd waited since the injury had happened and not wanting to wait another day. Although none of us really wanted to end the trip, I suggested that perhaps we should send a SPOT message and get a helicopter there that day, then I could tow the Ronquil in that afternoon with the Kathy M. To my surprise, everyone was on board with that plan. The only trick was that we didn't have a SPOT message specifically about needing a chopper. My messages, which I'd taken photos of to be sure, asked for a plane or said we needed help and to look where we were. Though I'd meant to, I hadn't checked my mom's SPOT messages to see what they said, which I kicked myself for endlessly. In the end, we decided I'd walk back into the meadow near the slough and send the help message there, trusting Ezra to look at the location and send a helicopter instead of a float plane. We'd had a conversation before I left about which companies to use and I knew from two years ago how well he can interpret the messages I send. I reached the slough near where I met Matrushka and her twins last summer and sent the message, watching until the message sent light went on. Then I left it for a full ten minutes to make sure it got sent, rewarded with a look at a pair of yellow warblers following each other through a willow clump and a Lincoln's sparrow that alighted in a nearby willow only to be chased off by its resident. It was a mild, overcast day, and apparently calm, which was a great relief over the storm from the night before.

At 11:00 I walked back to the cabin and cheked in. Jia Jia found a dark orange sheet my mother remembered to put on the front lawn to alert the helicopter and I found a reddish pillowcase to wave on top of my staff. We hoped the helicopter, if that's what Ezra sent, would come by the cabin before going back to the meadow, and we wanted there to be no mistake. After starting the generator to charge Jia Jia's phone a little, we put the sheet on the meadow, got the pole ready, then Jia Jia and I carried the peat moss and soil up the bank by hand and wrapped all but two bags in the tarps I'd brought along, carrying the other two to the front porch. My mom said the generator had quit, maybe out of gas, so I put more in and started it again, sweet talking it while it chugged awkwardly for a long time and threatened to quit, then turned a corner and began humming as usual, to our relief. Jia Jia had a 23% charge, so we left it at that. We were about to carry all the other gear we'd left there from the floats project back to Alder when I heard an engine noise from downriver. We ran back to the cabin, I alerted my mom, then we ran to the riverfront to watch. It didn't take long to realize it was a boat as it got closer, and we saw it in the channel across the river. I told my mom it was a false alarm, but moments later I heard a definite airborne engine from downriver and soon confirmed it was a helicopter, flying so low I could not see it through the trees. Jia Jia and I could track it from its sounds, and it went straight to where I'd sent the message and seemed to linger there a bit. Then it flew upriver and toward the river, still so low that we couldn't see it beyond the tree tops. I didn't see it until it was over the river and in view through the gap in the trees at the point. I could see the pilot looking, waved him in, and indicating he should land there. Jia Jia was behind waving the pole. When I knew he'd seen us, I ran back toward the cabin, picking up the sheet on the way, feeling a moment of intense relief that choked me up for a split second. Jia Jia went to help my mom pack a few things and get ready while I waited outside, picking another 20 or more small spruces in the blueberry bushes while the helicopter wound down. (I'd picked over 50 already from there, and dozens from other parts of the meadow.) I was delighted to see Brendan step down, the same pilot who had brought us up and back this winter, putting our dogs in and out of the helicopter and helping carry our gear through the snow. I thanked him for coming, relieved at his nonchalantness, and briefed him about the situation. At the same time I cheerily asked if he was up to picking up a human this time, he said something about how I knew he was up for picking things up. While he called his boss (who briefed Ezra in town), Jia Jia and I helped my mom to the porch and put her jacket on, then Brendan and I carried her to the chopper, with two breaks, while Jia Jia followed with her bag. Brendan took the door off and lifted her up from the inside while Jia Jia and I pushed from below and soon my mom was in the helicopter and they were off. Watching it lift from the ground, my mom waving cheerily from inside, I felt an immense sense of relief, a huge burden off my shoulders. The chopper had landed less than an hour and a half from the time I'd sent the help message, thanks to the attentiveness and decisions of Ezra and the helpfulness of Tempsco. In town, Ezra met the helicopter and took my mom to the hospital where x-rays revealed that the top right corner of her tibia had broken off.

By then it was about 12:40 and we spent the rest of the afternoon closing up, starting with tying a harness across the back of the Kathy M, cleat to cleat, that a tow line could attach to, keeping the pull centered on the Kathy M. We used the long green line conveniently left on the float. While the boat was tied to the dock, we also unloaded the canoe motor and I carried it to Alder and tied it to the wall next to the riverboat engine while Jia Jia finished carrying the rest of the gear from putting the floats in to Alder. We then tried and failed to push the 4-wheeler back into its shelter, apparently no longer in neutral, and screwed in its plywood walls. Then we recovered the water pump thoroughly and headed inside to clean the cabin. While I did a pile of dishes, Jia Jia packed up all my mom's gear, tidied up, and swept the carpet. We took most of our gear down to the landing and onto the floats with one 2-wheel cart load, dropped it off in Alder, and screwed the door shut with new screws, as the others were nowhere to be found. All day I'd really wanted a cup of Russian tea and a moment of relaxation. It was after 3:00 by then and I wanted to be departing by 4:00 (after the awkwardness of anchoring the dock and tying the boats together), but I'd noted that the tide had not really begun to rise when we were there, so I decided we had time. In the clean cabin, we sipped tea and ate some cherry crumb cake and read some of my mom's log entry. Then we closed and locked the cabin up and walked with the rest of the gear and the dogs to the docks, first loading everything and the dogs on board. To our relief, Jenny came easily, needing no help or encouragement to get down the slope and into the boat. First I pulled the Kathy M's anchor, then tied it securely to the dock. The idea was to use its anchor for the floats and, to that end, we'd pulled the floats upriver a little from their intended resting place earlier that morning. However, they'd settled back to where we wanted them and we left it there, as it would have taken a lot of work to shift it out of its slot and we were running out of time. Instead, after failing to get the anchor far enough upriver to catch with a thrown off the bow, I puttered upriver a ways in the Kathy M and threw it from there, then tied it to the outside corner of the dock. Also attached with three lines from shore, I hope the docks will be secure.

But then it got complicated. We pulled away from the dock and headed to the Ronquil. I'd had to detach its stern line from the Kathy M in order to pull anchor, so its stern line was dragging in the water. However, this turned out to be convenient for tying off the Kathy M while I pulled the Ronquil's anchor. While I pulled close toward its stern, Jia Jia was able to fetch the line with a 2x2 and we tied it to the rail. Then I hopped onto the Ronquil, motored up to and pulled the anchor, then had Jia Jia untie the line from the bow while I drifted toward the Kathy M. Uncertain how to hook up, I was pleased to find that the Ronquil drifted on its own to snuggle and drift alongside the Kathy M, so close that I was able to tie the 50' bow line to our harness without even needing to hold the boats together. I raised the engine, made sure everything was ship shape, then hopped back aboard the Kathy M. Our first attempt to start the tow didn't go very well, as the boats were not in the right position, but on the second try, Jia Jia threw the harness over the engines and I put a bit of tension on the line and off we went. It towed just beautifully. By then we'd drifted to the mouth of the slough and continued at a leisurely pace all the way down the meadow, never touching bottom. I got up to speed by the cliffs and everything was going very smoothly. We hit one hidden log and Jia Jia leapt to the back to make sure the Ronquil didn't hit the Kathy M as I slowed briefly, but that was the only time we slowed down at all. I followed my imaginary path from Taku Point to Scow and never touched bottom, to my great relief, as I never slowed down, and we took a light following sea to Point Bishop. I tried to vary the speed, but the boat really wanted to hover around 3900 rpms; slower than that and we were barely on step, faster and the Ronquil skidded from side to side in the wake, pulling awkwardly. The skies were dry, and the whole thing went extremely smoothly, both dogs curled up, everything ship shape. I felt very optimistic. At the end of the channel I talked with Ezra and my mom, who was about to eat pizza with Mike and Amelia. Ezra met us at the entrance to the harbor where conveniently empty floats allowed us to pull in slowly and detach the tow line. He drove the Ronquil into the slip in front of us and we were soon tied. Jia Jia tied on some of the Kathy M's lines while I finished with the Ronquil, then instructed me on the final spring line. Ezra offloaded our gear into a couple of carts and off we went for home, Jenny jumping eagerly into my car. We chatted with my mom for a while and looked at her x-rays, then headed off for showers. What a trip!

Addendum: It turned out that the top of my mother's tibia was crushed by the bottom of her femur, resuling in a "very serious injury" as her doctor said several times. There were several other fractures and damage to ligaments, but it was the crushed bone that required surgery. Two weeks after the fall, Dr. Garcia raised the top of the tibia back into position, filling the cavity below with manufactured bone, and screwed a metal plate along the side of it with six screws through the tibia. It was a full two months before any weight could be put on the leg, after which a slow process of rehabilitation would begin.

Spirits were high in the beginning!