Friday, September 24, 2010

Ninilchick, Anchor, Homer, AK

Russian church and cemetery
Days 34-35
I left Kenai after having a great breakfast and while we ate, a moose and her calf walked through their backyard, to give you a sense of the remoteness.  I headed out about 11AM and thanked Dennis and Emilia again for their hospitality.  

That morning we learned that a fisherman who had been hiking up the Swanson River (not far from me) in search of Steelhead and Silvers was mauled by a Grizzly.  He had a shotgun, but must have spooked the bear because he barely survived.  The bear peeled back his scalp and caused extreme trauma to an arm and leg.  He was certainly a lucky man to survive and I learned the lesson to be extra obnoxious when I hike in Alaska.
Massive Volcano
I drove down to Ninilchik to fish the Ninilchik River and the mouth of Deep Creek.  Deep Creek was awesome because the river starts in the bay and when the tide is up it usually brings in loads of salmon.  Across the bay, I could see two massive volcanoes in the distance west of me.  I fished for a while during sunset, but no fish came through the mouth, plus the tide was going out, which meant that the fish were also way out in the bay.  The tide in Ninilchik is about twenty-five feet, which means that lots and lots of the beach is exposed on a daily basis making the town a haven for birds.  I made ravioli and called it a night.

Yesterday was one of the most amazing days in terms of fishing.  It seems like I say that a lot, but it was a day full of first timers.  I met a salty old fisherman who came to fish the same mouth as the tide was coming in around 10AM.  I wanted to talk to them and as soon as I asked what they were fishing for, the oldest guy said, "I would not be interested in fly fishing with them."  I said, "Excuse me!? Thats actually how I fish too."  I changed my plans and fished in the surf so that I could show them I knew what I was doing.  I know it was immature on my part, but how could they assume that I did not fly fish from my appearance?  There were no fish coming in that day and so I left and went down to Anchor Point to fish the Anchor River which is about thirty miles south of Ninilchik.

I strolled into the first fly shop I came to and met a nice Ohioan couple who were stocked with information.  I purchased a fourteen day out of state license, which is very expensive because I had a couple of close calls with fish and wildlife rangers before hand.  Darcy told me exactly where he thought the Silvers and Steelhead were and I tried about six spots for the rest of the day.  I ate two burritos and a danish for brunch.  Then the fishing got GOOD.

29" Steelhead

I came to a portion of the Anchor River that had a few cars parked next to it.  An old man told me that there were no Steelhead in the river, but lots of Dollies (He wasn't BS-ing me because he had a small 5wt rod in his hand).  "Nymphs were the way to fish it," he said.  Well, I wanted to try to fish for steelhead anyway so I tied on an egg-sucking leech pattern that I had tied myself and weighted it perfectly for about an eight foot, deep, and slow moving pool.  I had read that Steelhead are ever so delicate when they strike and to be cognizant of it otherwise you'll never catch them.  After a few casts into the pool, it seemed like the fly had skipped on the bottom, which is desirable, so that it looks like a real salmon egg.  My indicator scutted just a tad and I set the hook just to see and WAM.  I tightened up my drag because there were harsh and shallow bends of the river in both directions.  I never saw the fish until the last three minutes of fighting.  And when I did I almost lost it.  Mind you that I am constantly looking around me for bears because apparently when they hear a splashing fish they have associated it with a meal and have been known to snatch a fisherman's catch.  I had just caught my first Steelhead at a whopping 29".  I could not believe it for about a half hour.  The man who told me there were no Steelhead was watching around the bend and I held up my monster fish with pride.

I tried another section of the Anchor River north of where I was and was shocked by how shallow the river was in some places.  You would imagine that these fifteen pound fish need adequate depth to swim upstream, but two-to-three feet of water seemed just enough.  Up river and near a boulder I found a school of monster Silvers spawning and acting aggressively.  See, salmon come up the rivers after spending a lifetime in the sea and return to their original spawning beds to spawn and die.  Native trout feed on their eggs while steelhead (a type of sea-run rainbow) chase the salmon and eat their eggs and then their decomposing bodies.  I was lucky enough to find a deep pool and a perfect gravel bed where nearly twenty fish, all over ten pounds were spawning.  The males had a beautiful deep burgundy spawning color to them while the females were a dark grey.  I had no luck with a pink and red patterned fly and tried my largest chartreuse colored fly.  First cast, fish on.  I had hooked a 30" hooked jaw (male) Silver right at the top of his buttoned-nose.  I wish I had a scale to weigh it, but it must have been around twelve pounds.  The fight lasted approximately minutes, but I was nervous about the bears so I hiked back to the truck, made a few beautiful fish print stamps of his massive head and filleted him to begin my portable fish pantry.

Candy apple Silver Salmon. Notice where I hooked him: this fish was most likely nudging the fly aggressively but not necessarily eating it since I caught him on the top of his nose. 
Bear necessities
That evening I drove down to Homer, came over a hill and saw more bay side mountains and volcanoes!  I strolled into a campsite and parked near a large beach camping crew along the Homer Spit.  As I was cooking my fresh salmon catch, I few of the girls came up and invited me to their fire.  Their group of about eight people were road tripping from Anchorage after working for the summer for the train that connects Anchorage to Fairbanks.  They made thousands of dollars as cooks, servers, and tour salesmen and were originally from across the US.  Needless to say, I made some friends and kept warm with their "epic" fire.
View from Homer Spit
At sunrise, I got a better glimpse of the mountains, and for being the most southern point of the Peninsula that I could drive to, it was mightily hermoso and memorable.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kenai Peninsula

Days 31-33 
I was hoping to see the Museum of History in Anchorage, but since I do not keep track with what day of the week it is, I found out at the door that it was Sunday.  Anyway, my drive from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula was gorgisimo.  Imagine snow covered (and in some spots, glacial coated) mountains on either side of the Chickaloon Bay along the infamous Cook Inlet.  In a small town called Portage, I could see glaciers to the Northeast, East and South of me with the arm of the bay to the West.  At Beluga Point, I did not see any whales, but in the mountains behind me was a herd of Dall Sheep about 300+ yards away.  Incredible.
Driving on Kenai Peninsula
I drove through Cooper Landing and got fishing FAQs on the area.  I camped at Kelly and Peterson Lakes, which is in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  At sunset I was lucky enough to hear wolves howl; I could hear that they were communicating from miles apart like a call and response.  It was amazing especially since the lake echoed their calls.  I set up the one-man and fished Kelly Lake.  Although it took a while to figure out what was happening in the subsurface, I began to pound the Rainbows, sizes averaging 18" or larger.  I kept one for dinner, which I broiled with onions and tomato soup.
Muddy Cook Inlet 

Something important about life: Individuals are fully consumed by living a life that is pleasing and necessary to them.  For example, you get an education to improve your potential, you work to be self sufficient, and you plan vacations to enjoy yourself your entire life.  So I began thinking about myself and the trip and that it is possible to live a remarkably legendary life on your own, but if you do not share it with other people then good for you.  That is why its imperative for your personal growth to get to know, listen, learn from, and love other people, because if you are lucky to see the world its worth sharing with others.  Hope that makes sense, it just came to me as I ate dinner.

The next morning I fished the lake again, but with an intense cloud coverage above, the fishing had changed.  I had only one strike in three hours.  I packed my gear and tied flies all afternoon near the lake.  Then I headed to Watson Lake, which was about ten miles west of me off of the Sterling Highway on the Peninsula. It was the last day of moose hunting season, which I am thankful for because in Alaska, you are allowed to hunt with semi-automated rifles (the first time your hear 8-10 shots fired in a row at dark is a bit scary).  I fished Watson Lake, and only took one 17" rainbow in deep water, but it was another beautiful spot so I cannot complain.  That night, I had ravioli and a couple beers for dinner and planned to wake up early for a real day of fishing.

Thank you Bill and Nick for the pontoon it has been a perfect vessel.
I had initially planned to take a ferry to Kodiak Island to see the bears and find some Silver Salmon, but apparently its very costly to get there and the Silvers had begun to arrive yet.  Since I "saved" money by not going to Kodiak, I decided to splurge on a guided Kenai River float trip for a day.  The Kenai River is about seventy-five miles long and is separated into three sections: the lower, which comes in from the Cook Inlet and the middle and upper sections divided by Skilak and Kenai Lakes.  This means that the Rainbow trout of the lakes feed on salmon eggs and flesh after they spawn and die, which means that the Rainbow are very well fed and get HUGE.

Kelly Lake
Skilak Lake
I floated with Mike, the guide, and three other more experienced salmon fishermen, who seemed to fish in Alaska quite a bit.  We motored from Skilak Lake into the mouth of the middle section of the river and within five casts, I matched my largest rainbow record at 24" and six pounds.  Due to the glacial run-offs, the lakes and rivers of the Kenai peninsula are teel blue and have wonderfully large gravel spawing beds for the salmon, which is an egg eating frenzy for the trout.  The guys told me, "Welcome to Alaska kid, a 24" first Kenai river fish is not bad."  The day turned into one of the best fishing days I have ever had.  I took nearly thirty fish, including Rainbows, Dolly Varden, Pink Salmon and Whitefish over eight hours.  The biggest fish of the day was a new personal best, which the guide considered an Alaskan trophy.  At 26" long, 15" around, and pushing ten lbs, I fought and landed a beautiful female rainbow.  I returned her of course, but what an experience!  She ran upstream about 150 yards, which took me well into my backing, and then ran at the boat another 100 yards within half a minute.  I was in awe for at least half an hour, missing fish from the same hole because I was so satisfied.
26" Beauty
"Welcome to Alaska"
That night I headed for the mouth of the Kenai river, which is on the coast, in hope of finding some silvers. After stopping at three other boat launch spots, which were covered in NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING signs, I came to Cunningham Park about 1/2 a mile from the mouth.  I met a couple who were fishing and talked them up.  Within minutes of meeting me and hearing that I was from Texas, they offered me home-smoked King Salmon, Black Bear jerky sticks, and a beer.  The King salmon was especially good seeing that it was cured in a Native manner.  And Bear! It was tasty.  We fished for a while together and after getting to know each other a little bit, they offered me a place to stay that night.  At first I was skeptical, as sure as they were of me, but Dennis and Emilia kept saying, "We'll take you in as long as you return the favor to someone else in the future."  God works in mysterious ways and it was like a reaffirming point to my previous lesson learned about life.

Dennis and Emilia own a commercial fishing business in Bristol Bay and for one month out of the year they work hard netting thousands of pounds of fish.  Maybe I will join them next season.  We had some beers and dinner, I enjoyed a hot shower and warm bed.  They made a large breakfast and I continued on.  The most I could do to thank them was print the head of a Silver Salmon that Emilia caught last night, which turned out beautifully (I could only stamp the head since the fish was about 30" long and much longer than my print paper).  I am always amazed by the kindness that people are capable of, what if more of us took a chance like that?

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Days 28-30
I left the treehouse after a bagel and cream cheese breakfast and set out to Denali, after much anticipation.  But I dropped the ball big time since I showed up an hour after the last shuttle bus on the last day of the season.  See, you can only drive the first twenty miles, but the tour bus service closes in the "winter," which came on Sept 16.  I made the mistake of not looking up when the winter began.  No one could pull any strings for me even though I had driven up from Texas.  I was irate for hours, until the guy at the Wilderness Services building suggested I apply for a backcountry permit and watch an instructional/survival video.  I chose Slot 25 (a twenty-five square mile area) to camp in overnight along with my bear proof container.  Denali is an amazing park because there are no trails to hike, its all open tundra, so the stakes and wildlife viewing opportunities are higher. 
More Alaska weirdness. 

But my bad luck had not diminished: I was cooking Reindeer sausage for dinner with rice when I realized that I had left my down comforter at the hostel 125 miles away!  I thought about leaving it and buying a new sleeping bag, but I could not afford it.  Plus, I would need it overnighting in the park since the weather can change dramatically; some nights during the summer it has dropped down to -35 degrees (see when its really cold, I get inside my +25 degree mummy sleeping bag and then cacoon in the down comforter as well).  So I bit the bullet and drove back to get it, stayed another night in the treehouse with my roommate Larry and passed out.
North America's big one.
Yesterday, I woke up fairly early, washed my dishes, had eggs, and headed back out to Denali.  Along the way, I saw a hitch hiker who raised his hands in the air as I drove by, as if to say, "Come on, help me, its cold."  I felt sympathy for him, turned around and picked him up.  Jimmy, ended up being a nice change of pace for a the 100 mile stretch of the drive.  He told me some interesting things about Alaska, since he had moved up here to work from Baltimore.  Things like: in the jails of AK, you pay to serve your time, so whatever you do, Do Not wind up in jail.  That was the first thing he said that made my nervous.  Then he said, "EAT MOOSE, 4 MILLION WOLVES DO!"  Or that he supported Sarah Palin... But he was impressed by my trip and he told me to enjoy the wild, which is encouraging to hear.  I dropped him off near the park thinking it may have been a mistake to pick him up regarding my safety, but I let the Lord handle this one.  

I decided that it would be unsafe to go on the backcountry pack trip since its not recommended to do alone, but I thought I would go on a day hike anyway to enjoy the open tundra.  Well, with a day pack and loaded shutgun, I set off.  Within twenty minutes of hiking through dense thicket, I saw a huge, bail of hay-sized shadow.  I inched up closer and a female moose, sitting down, turned her head and adjusted her ears to hear me.  I should mention that a portion of Slot 25 is sectioned off as No Entry since there is a large conglomeration of moose that are in the rut (mating), which means that the bulls are aggressive and territorial.  Since I knew this, I started my hike about three miles west of that area, but the moose were everywhere.  Having known that more people are injured or killed by moose than bears in the US, I was cautious and slowly wakled to the left of her.  Within seconds, I heard a bull grunting and start trotting, although I could not see him.  I had my shotgun ready in case it was my time to go (I felt my bowels move no joke) and I think it false charged because I made sure he could hear me and in a slow and calm voice, I backed away.  I said, thats it, Denali, you win this time and headed back and out of the park.  

Denali/Mt. McKinley: I did get to see the big one from about sixty miles away, and since the skies were abnormally clear, I took lots of photos.  Its wild to think that it towers over 10,000 Ft peaks standing just over 20,000 ft.  It was an emotional moment because I was let down by my lack of planning and yet the mountain was just superbly immense.  I left, anxious to return and maybe one day to climb it.  I should also mention that some people fly out to see Denali and due to inclement weather never get to see it.  My Dad for example, only got to see the peak for fifteen minutes when he went a really really long time ago (just kidding haha). 

From there, I continued South to Anchorage and found some fishy creeks which had fish in them because I found my first two decomposing salmon carcasses.  I took a couple small grayling and then made Ramen noodles with a couple of eggs, repacked my car, and passed out. 
Willow Creek
More bear signs. 
Today, I drove through Willow and Wasilla (where Sarah Palin is from) and fished three unproductive rivers/river mouths.   I got in contact with a salty river guide named George who invited me to his place to show me some spots to fish on a map.   In a very caffeinated tone, he said, "Do you have a gun? Good, you'll need it because where Im suggesting you go is real bear country."  I get to the spot and were talking chest high brush, extreme fog, almost no casting space, and a narrow creek that held no fish.  An adrenaline rush wakes you up more quickly than any amount of coffee and it is also more addicting.  I learned that fishing for salmon is different than for trout.  Salmon are on the move to their original spawning beds, not caring about the water temprature, clarity, or what the weather is doing.  So when someone suggests where they think the fishing may be productive, they mean that they may be there because water that seems perfect to hold fish (like trout) may be temporarily barren.  Then I fished the mouth of two rivers and found LOTS of bear tracks.  I headed out after realizing that I know very little about salmon fishing.  Rivers are huge, the trout follow the salmon up stream, and the silt in the water makes it impossible to know where the fish are.  Hopefully my luck increases as steeply as this learning curve is.  

Mud crusted salmon. 
I got to Anchorage about 6:30 PM had a Chinese dinner and am staying at a Hostel while researching the rest of my route.  Other tasks include laundry and relaxing.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Alcan Highway - Fairbanks, ALASKA

Caribou with broken antler.
Days 26-27
At Fort St. John, I got an oil change, which set me back a few hours, but was well worth it since there was a tremendous amount of fog on the road and the visibility was 50 yards max.  Then I set out on the most intense driving I have ever experienced.  Yes the Alcan Highway is incredibly long, wild, and scenic, but it has countless unmarked pot holes, and can be quite rough.  But I should  not complain since twenty years ago it was all gravel.  From Fort St. John to Fort Nelson to Watson Lake to Whitehorse is roughly 850 miles.  That was my route yesterday.  Today was Whitehorse to the US border and to Fairbanks, Alaska for another 600 miles.  AT LAST I could say I had made it to Alaska; a la Etta James.   One infuriating tid-bit is that I bought a monthly access plan so that my phone would work in Canada and it never worked past Grande Cache in Alberta.
Its tough to see, but this is a restaurant with a ceiling covered in 7,800 hats!

The road: Imagine openness, semi paved roads, a range from flatness to 11% grade, drives through parks and around lakes.  Some signs read WIND GUSTS, AVALANCHE COUNTRY, FIRST NATION (reservations), CHAIN on/removal stops, BREAK CHECKS, EMERGENCY RUN OFF SLOPES etc. Then there were loads of game signs, which were accurate.  I saw a black bear, about 8 meese (inside family joke), mountain goats, coyotes, foxes, owls, hawks, eagles, and even a pig.

How to: To drive on the Alcan successfully requires caution, but SPEED.  When there is open space you FLY.  For some of the drive I had to drive at night to gain time since I was told that bad weather was going to roll into Denali and potentially obscure the view tomorrow.  So I quickly learned that if I kept up behind an 18-Wheeler, which already drives quickly, that I would be protected from anything in the road and have extra illumination from their lights.
Me in my previous life
Alaska Border: I came back into the US and was not only proud (of myself and vehicle) to have made it, but grateful.  The roads were already better, I was no longer nervous about carrying the shotgun in Canada, and from here on out, weather permitting, I had a bunch of adventure in addition to the driving.  I came to Fairbanks about 6PM, with a clear view of Denali!  I cannot wait to see it up close tomorrow, God willing.  But Alaska is also a bit weird.
Moose eyes
Can you tell I am pleased?
I arrived to a "hostel" that was advertised in the Milepost (a guidebook/log of all mile posts throughout Alberta, BC, Yukon, and AK) and was shown my "room with strangers" room.  I follow the rude man beyond the Inn-like buildings into the back and hidden section of the parking lot.  Next to 3 rusting but functioning trailers was a tree with a ladder and a tree house in it.  I thought it was a play house, but from inside this tree house I am typing and going to sleep tonight.  Its nice you know, it blocks the wind, but there is no door knob (it is a nail that closes the door) and probably holds a lot of spiders! Anyway, me and a very unlucky man are staying tonight here before we write a claim lol.  It would definitely fail any and all hospitality/fire codes.  But even more strange was that the host showed me the lobby with living room and computer.  Sitting in front of the computer, and on Facebook, was a short, plump, Native American hooker, wearing fish nets, all black with unmistakable "hooker" boots.  She smiled at me.  I asked the host if he could recommend a local place to have dinner and he said McDonalds or Pizza Hut -- Golly!  I went with Pizza Hut and am now going to sleep.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Banff - Jasper - Dawson

Lake Louise
Days 24 - 25
The next morning, Monica cooked a delicious breakfast including fresh fruit, pancakes, and bacon! I want to thank her and the men of the house for having me for the last couple of nights, it has been wonderful.

Next, please notice the title of this post.  Imagine it as a segment between three places--primarily in transit.  The Canadian Rockies are incredible, and not spending more time along the way may have been a mistake, but the goal was to reach Alaska in time to fish for salmon so I could not linger.  Anyway, I set off from Calgary to Banff.  The drive was scenic and starting to get primitive.  Along both sides of the highway is a large fence to keep out all the game, but wherever you would like to stop and explore/fish you just unlock a fence have at it.  The drive took me to Lake Louise!

Wedding at lake
It is a beautiful glacial blue lake that was formed by the glacier above it.  There is a hotel facing the lake and mountain that I think takes away from the beauty, but it was cool because a couple got married and were shooting photos by the water.

See the road!
That evening, I drove past the Lake Louise campground which is famous for having an electric fence around it to keep the Grizzlies out.  I stayed at a small pull out, trail parking lot, made dinner and tried to sleep, but within two hours I heard long legged hoof sounds scraping the gravel.  Every time I looked out of my car the animal/s would scatter.  It was tough to see out of my car because when its below freezing outside, my windows fog up from the condensation of my breathing.  I was too spooked when I began to hear breathing, although I never saw anything, so I drove about another hour until I got to another campground parking lot at 2AM.

Lake Montaine
On my 25th day, it sounds like a chapter in Around the World in 80 Days, and continued on to Lake Montaine, which was more impressive.  Maybe because I got a better glimpse of the mountains and glaciers above it, but regardless, it was awesome.  I continued on to Jasper National Park, which I did not get to see much of due to iffy weather, and then to Dawson Creek.  Dawson is a neat town since it is where Mile 0 of the Alaskan "Alcan" Highway.  Alcan was the name given by the US Army, who built it to solidify the route that the was formed by the airports that led to Alaska to fend of the Japanese in WW2.  My Grandfather was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during the war, so it was neat to drive by the small airports that remain in tact.  These airports is what the locals depend on and they are also more consistent than gas stations.  Sometimes, there can be stretches of the road that have gas stations 160+ miles apart.  That night, I crashed in an RV park in Fort St. John.

I forgot to mention, there were hikes that had signs that read: One must hike accompanied with three or more other people BY LAW.  The point is to avoid brown bear incidents, since bears usually do not attack larger parties of people.  But isn't it crazy that it is a law and if caught you pay up to $5000!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bow River

Day 23
Let me start by saying that today was one of the most incredible days I have had on the trip.  Todd and his wife Karen were nice enough to let me join them on their free day on the river--to you guys, thank you.

First and foremost, the pronunciation of the Bow River is key; it is a VERY long O, with almost no W sound, which adds to the allure.  Then I should mention that this river is by far the fishiest water I have ever laid a fly into.  It runs heavier and more swift than the Madison River and is as wide, but in some cases wider than the Missouri.  Its rock bottom and long bends cause for very long stretches of uneasy water--where big fish feed. What may be a fishy section worth wading in the Big Horn or the Madison, multiply the length of the run by 5.  The magnitude of fishing potential was insane.  I do not to wish bore you all, but I will say that this gnarly river is within one hour from downtown Calgary and some places along downtown actually hold the biggest fish.  Two of the take outs were called Cities and Police, just to give you an idea.

Tod's self made flies. 
Tod as a guide: I was told in the shop that I was lucky to go out with one of the premiere fishing guides on the Bow, and let me tell you, Todd was the creme of the crop.  He was polite, he announced where buckets/pools were in the middle of the river that only he could see, he was a "guiding workaholic" to quote him.  And I knew it was true, because after every time I offered to row, he said, "Its okay, I just love showing people this river."  We floated a portion of the river that was nearly a ten hour day with lunch and stops--what a treat.
Todd was very much a Merlin.
The fishing: given the cloudy, rainy, but sometimes sunny weather, the fishing, according to Todd and his wife's  standards were poor and leaning on atrocious, but for me it was excellent.  I took about ten fish, the biggest being a 19" Rainbow.  There was not that much dry fly action due to the cooler climate, but apparently this river is outrageous when the caddis are out.  

Thank you Todd for the picture.
The river is also famous for the type of rainbow that it holds, these fish are ferocious in comparison to Montana trout, and have a chrome colored tint to them.  Average size is 18", and a 14" fish feels like its 18".  Their breed is just more active, probably Shastas.  But browns get huge here too, biggest all time is 30+.  I missed a few fish that were larger, but its just bound to happen since these fish are simply larger and more hostile.  Basically, I imagine the Bow river to be what Montana may have been like 50 years ago.  As you can see, I cannot say enough about this river or the fishing even though it was not the "best" of fishing days.  Thanks for showing the river Todd, your the man.
Me and Todd being hard. 

Glacier Natl. Park

Days 20-22

I drove north towards Kalispell, MT to stay the night with Susie and Tom on my way to Glacier the next day.  The drive through Kalispell led me past Ovando, MT, which is where I had my first job with Paul Roos Outfitters back when I was 16.  Anyway, after about 3-4 hrs, and seeing lots of deer, I made it.  Their living situation is perfect: they live in an airport community comprised of airplane owners who live around a mile long runway and fly as often as they like--unless of course it rains.  I had a nice evening getting to know them better, we had a nice dinner and I slept extremely well due to a ridiculously comfortable bed.  

The next morning, Susie spoiled me with a full blown egg, bacon, and blue berry pancake breakfast while Tom shared valuable map/route info with me.  I ended up leaving their place with a rain check to see Glacier from the sky since it was raining!  As I was driving to the park, I came across a luscious portion of the South Fork of the Flathead River and HAD to pull over and try it. 

I took 7 Cutthroats with dries in an hour.  
As soon as I entered the park, I bought a pass into all National Parks in the US (including AK) since I had already racked up a tab towards the $80 pass that is good for a year.  It was a bit unlucky that it was extremely cloudy, which kept me from seeing most of the glaciers; regardless, Glacier Natl. Park was by no means underwhelming.  There were glacial streams that were the cleanest and clearest I have ever seen, there were peaks that sliced sharp wedges into the clouds.  In some places, the clouds would fall into a tall mountain bowl.  Picture mountains that form a half circle while clouds sneak down into the bowl/valley that they created only exposing the peaks through the clouds.  
Incredible clarity.
Thats me.
The sun came out just in time to create a rainbow. 
Cloudy pista.  

That night, I met a cool couple from San Fransisco: Matt & Lauren, who are in the middle of a year long trip around the world.  It was neat because they had come down the same route that I was heading North on and it was fun to chat with people my age.  That night,  I made Ravioli for dinner and did some reading on the border crossing while it rained.  I was using my new tent that Bug and Randy got me and it worked like a champ since I remained dry.  

The next morning, I decided to take Matt & Lauren to one of the nearby lakes and teach them how to fly fish.  It was an unproductive morning, which may have been affected by the heavy weather system from last night, but it remained fun to teach them for a short while one of my passions.  Glacier Natl. Park was incredible, but there is much to see on my next trip. 

As soon as I left the US and entered Canada, I began to notice how different their country is.  Gas is sold by cents/litre, radio stations play French music, and their accent is special.  Adjacent to a highway was Olympic Drive, which is where there is a Long Ski Jump and Half Pipe courses.  Calgary is not the largest metropolis, but from what I have gotten used to on this trip, it was massive.  Driving through downtown Calgary was funny since I was in my dirty and loaded 4Runner. My first stop was Fish Tales Fly Shop.  

I was getting info on where to float the river in a one man pontoon, but the shop, to my luck, had no river maps for sale.  One of the weathered looking guys named Todd, drew me a schematic of the river, what the take out was like, and gave me superior fishing advice.  I asked him what he was doing the next day while proposing that I would row half the day so he too could fish.  What was a mere shot in the dark, actually happened.  Tomorrow, thanks to Todd's generosity I happened to convince him to take me floating on the world class Bow River with his wife for an 8 hour float!!   

Afterwards, I met up with Javi's sister Monica and Richard in Calgary, where I was kindly taken in.  I am finding that these bouts of kindness have really made my trip stupendous, honestly, thanks to all of you.  Monica and Richard (and their baby) made a delicious BBQ dinner with beers and then I  got to stay in a separate guest apartment and crashed for the night.