Motorboat Maintenance and Wolf Tracks
Kiana Travel Blog› entry 15 of 38 › view all entries
After last night's midnight sun extravaganza I was surprised to wake to a blue sky. It has been nearly two weeks since we enjoyed T-shirt weather. I did some minor maintenance on the motorboat: drained water from the carburetor, added some Pennzoil, and got the beast running. I removed the motor to flip the boat over and mend a leak with some 5-minute epoxy which I carry in my aircraft field kit.
I had paddled kayaks, dug-out canoes, sampans, small rubber rafts, and shikharas, but until this summer had never operated a motorboat. I never appreciated noisy machines that take away the one-on-one feeling with pristine surroundings but the aluminum motorboat is all that we have here in camp for exploring the Kobuk. Being my first season with a new company, I felt it improper to haul (at their expense) my portable Klepper kayak to Alaska.
I rounded each bend scanning the banks far ahead with my binoculars. I don't know why I got binoculars since I only ever use one eye. But even then, any wildlife was warned away by the 25 horsepower Yamaha outboard motor long before visual contact could be made. But they would leave tracks.
Just two miles upstream, I beached onto a sandbar which was familiar from previous landings. I wanted to stay close enough to race downstream to Kiana when the DC-6 arrived to photograph its unloading. I had already snapped a picture of the graceful lady buzzing our camp.
I walked along the sandbar to round the next river bend hoping to spot wildlife but only found tracks. After yesterday's rains the ground had been erased and I was able to tell 'who's still in town.' Moose tracks lead out of the willows to the river's edge then right back into the brush while bear and wolf prints followed the river. I sat for an hour or more, waiting to see if a critter would show and listened for rustling in the willows, nearby snorts or howls, and for the distant drone of a DC-6, but nothing.