Syl & Ken's Personal Iditarod travel blog

Rancheria Falls

You Always Wanted to Know What a Boreal Forest Is, Right?

Fireweed - Used by Alaskans for Jelly and Telling When Winter Is...

Teslin Bridge - The Longest on the Alaskan Highway

Our Campground and Part of the Nisutlin River Delta National Wildlife Area

"Houseboat" That Took Us Out onto Teslin Lake (80 miles long) -...

Weird Helicopter Load

George Johnson's First Car - Good for Snow (Painted White) and as...

Tlingit Jacket With Beautiful Beading

One of Many of Johnson's Photos of His Tlingit People

The trip to Teslin was a short delightful one. As has become the norm on this trip, the scenery was magnificent. Our friend Judy had just returned from Alaska and told us it was amazing, but this Canadian portion of the trip has been fabulous itself. How lucky we are to be able to have the time to experience all of this magnificent northern country.

We stopped at Rancheria Falls for a short hike to the falls and enjoyed the trail with a family stationed in Anchorage, unhappily leaving for a new assignment. Their little boys were sweet and let me pretend grandma for a few moments. It was a pleasure and the falls were a peaceful respite in this boreal forest. See the photo for an explanation of what that is. We zipped past a black bear munching berries along the side of the road and you will have to take it on trust because we were going too fast for a photo. Rolling, wooded terrain finally took us to the longest bridge on the ALCAN which spans the Teslin River and immediately after the bridge was our campground, once again directly on the water - Lake Nitsutlin. This was another place we could have stopped for days and, their price was much more reasonable.

Since Mukluk Annie's offered a "houseboat" ride with their salmon bake dinner, we decided to try the salmon and enjoy the boat ride. The ride far surpassed the dinner although the salmon did make OK salmon salad the next day. The lake, this time Teslin Lake, was quiet and with only one other boat. We were told if there were one more there would be congestion. There are so many lakes up here that it makes Maine look like a desert. The strange thing about it is that few if any people are on the lakes. They are almost virgin. One could spend a lifetime going from lake to lake fishing and never see a soul.

I learned why we had been seeing bent trees. Last winter had extraordinarily heavy snow - 10 feet in many places. As a result many trees bent under the weight but did not snap. They have bloomed and grown this year but continue to bend like an old man, some tops touching the ground. The manager of the Johnston Museum explained all this to me atop the houseboat while we plied the waters of Teslin Lake which is very, very long - about 72 miles long. That makes sense since the Tlingit origin of Teslin means "long narrow lake."

The George Johnston Museum, which we visited before we left Teslin was a tribute to the Tlingit (pronounced Clinket) Indians and Johnston who, a self-taught photographer, captured the spirit of these beautiful people. Not only did we see ceremonial robes and workmanship of this tribe, but we feasted on photographs that Johnston lovingly took between 1920-1945. Johnston was a self-taught genius who not only took and developed his own photographs but was an entrepreneur as well. He had a general store and the first ice-highway car - one he bought and then adapted for snow and snowless periods. We very much enjoyed the film on his life and his innovative spirit and agreed with the description of the film that said "Picturing a People: George Johnston, Tlingit Photographer is a unique portrait of a man who was himself a creator of portraits and a keeper of his culture." Johnston reminded me of my friend and former colleague Laddie Gribick who always figured out new and different ways to create and adapt things. I think they were kindred spirits. When next I write, we will be in Skagway Alaska, our first stop in Alaska - this trip.

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