A Stikine River Mushroon Expedition

September 18th, 2014

Chief Shake's Lake 4

For my birthday, Martina treated me to a river trip up the Stikine again; this time to pick mushrooms.  On this Google Earth photo, we live in the upper left hand corner near Petersburg (yellow dot).  I drove down to Banana Point and jumped on a jetboat with 12 other people and off we went; along the bottom left of this photo, then up the tributary river into Chief Shakes Lake.   This lake boasts icebergs from the Stikine Icefields.  On the far-side of the central mountain cluster is LeConte Glacier, an earlier post which you can revisit here.

Chief Shake's Lake

Here is one iceberg–you can see why it’s tough to get through.  Castle Mountain is beyond.  We have three areas to sample mushrooms and one is near Chief Shakes Lake which, quite by caveat, happens to be accessible today so our fearless guide (Breakaway Adventures in Wrangell) nudges a few bergs out of our way and in we go……

Chief Shake's Lake 3

This is the upper end of Shakes Lake where the glacier calves off into the lake and slowly makes its way down to the south end of the lake–the river system joining the Stikine.  The icebergs don’t calve off like the LaConte just to the west–because there is no tidal action.   We’re lucky to get this far in, especially with perfect weather.  Breakaway uses jetboats which have a draft of less than 6″.  Eric, our driver, is very knowledgeable.


This is our lunch spot.  I’ve brought along smoked steelhead, cream cheese, baguette, hot tea and an apple–a lunch on par with the view.  Lots of beaver action here–not sure what they’re trying to dam though.

Chief Shakes Iceberg

The bergs build up at the lake outlet–we’re not only lucky to get in but also to get back out.


Blueberries abound–we pick them all and my friends bring over a blueberry-nagoonberry crisp that night for dinner.


OK–I mentioned mushrooms and this is what I found–all hedgehogs, of course (Dentinum repandum with a few Dentinum umbilicatum thrown in).  One yellow ‘winter’ chantrelle, too.  And out on our point back home……


……I score a couple of pie-pan sized boletes;  it’s my lucky day.  I make up my special mushroom sauce; here it is:  pan fry bacon bits til crispy, add sliced/diced mushrooms and cook until done, water evaporates and the bacon grease can be drained off.  Add pulp of two or three large tomatoes and a tablespoon of hoisin sauce and proportionate amount of half & half and reduce volume into a thick sauce. Balance these ingredients to your taste–don’t over-do the hoisin.  Great with filet mignon.  Delicious.


What a fall day–week actually.  Back in Petersburg, our Sons of Norway lodge proudly greets anyone walking along Hammer Slough.


It’s time to row around a bit in the faering and work up an appetite.  Just beyond the faering I’m building a Traditional Norwegian “naust” or boatshed.  Stay tuned for this one.

Spruce Log Table

Finally, here’s the spruce log I harvested (previous blog) for the new boathouse; now a table in our outdoor kitchen.  This is a smaller butt which is 33″ tall and 29″ in diameter; sprouted in 1796, only three years after Alexander McKenzie crossed Canada, 10 years before Lewis & Clark’s Expedition.


We rendezvous in our outdoor kitchen and a full moon greets us over the Castle group and the Stikine River.  What a marvelous fall day!  Thanks Martina for the wonderful birthday present!

Norwegian Naust

July 4th, 2014

Net Shed

Our net shed is full of stuff, mainly boats so I decide to build a traditional Norwegian “naust” or boatshed.  You can see what one looks like here.


There is only one way to do this–take advantage of the annual Alaska “personal use permit” for lumber.  I fill out a permit for 10,000 board feet of lumber and the Forest Service’s cruiser comes out and measures each tree, marks them with a brand and I’m off to the lumber yard.

Alaska Logging 2

When we first drive up a logging road here on Mitkof, I discover this fine example of drunk logging.  An old wet, rotted, hemlock snag with this peculiar notched out area.  The forest service guy with me was bewildered (he was from the lower 48) but, after scrutinizing this ‘cut,’  I suggested looking uphill….

Alaska Logging

Yup, beer bottles, snoose and shotgun shells.  These ‘loggers’ would drive up on Friday night, stuff their lips, drink a couple bottles and then log by shotgun.  That’s Alaska.

Andy 3

But not us–we take the high road.  Here my logging buddy with his 36″ bar Stihl approaches a tree dutifully marked by permit.  An old growth yellow cedar which will yield about 1000 board feet.  Let’s get going!

Andy 2


Andy 1

…..this tree has my initials on it……  Let’s go!

Close Call

When all the dust settles, one tree misses the truck by 10 feet.  These trees are 140 feet high and 3′ diameter at the base….. Yikes!

After Work

Well, after a hard day’s work, what’s there to do…..drink a beer, of course.


Then put some crab on the table–my first pull of the season–30 crab–I keep the best 10.

Ranger Beer

Here’s a toast with Ranger Beer–Vitamin R.  Love that hat….!  Stay tuned!


Home Again

May 31st, 2014

arriving by ferry

We’re home again and what a beautiful arrival with full afternoon sun and Devil’s Thumb greeting us across Frederick Sound.  All passengers were on deck when we docked.


We schlep, schlep, schlep about a dozen boxes up the beach, then go back for more.  How can we carry so much with us for 7 1/2 months?  Astounding.


We’re greeted by our old friend, Rusty, our pet black bear with a reddish forehead.  He has taken over the place so we watch carefully when we walk about.  I spend a day replacing all sorts of washers, light bulbs, tightening pipes, etc.  The Fridge washing machine didn’t drain so it froze for the third or fourth time–do not buy a Frigidaire.  We heated the house all winter remotely and it worked (with the able assistance of our nearest neighbor down the beach).  This winter we’re staying put.


First thing we do is acquire this handsome, yet dead, 27 lb. white King salmon–this is one of the nicest fish I’ve seen but we’ve been gone all winter.  We’re half way through it and the other half fits nicely in our freezer.  Oh, I forgot; we also put up a nice 26 lb. halibut.  We’re ready for summer!

Martina kayaking

The second thing we do, given the beautiful weather, is paddle up Petersburg Creek and join our neighbors for the annual Memorial Day picnic.  It’s good to be home!


We all arrive at noon, drifting upriver, on a flood tide–we’ll leave in about two hours and take the ebb back to our house.  Our NuCanoe is the yellow kayak in the middle of this raft–we love it.


All the shooting stars are in full bloom.  We walk around this meadow and discover lots of bear sign–OK, poop.  Fish are beginning to move in and the eagles are there to keep an eye on them.


This is our group–what a potluck picnic–even strawberry shortcake with whipped cream!  Petersburg Mountain is in the distance which overlooks our cabin to the right, about a four mile paddle.

Kayaking home

We invite some of our friends home with us for gin and tonics at 4 pm after drifting out of the creek.


Whoa!  Sticker Shock sets in again.  Check out these prices!


Want a lime also?  Why not just call it Two Bucks!


And check out tonic water.  Schweppes is outrageously over-sweetened and overpriced!  We’re switching to Indian Tonic Water or Seagrams for our mixer.  We shipped a pallet of wines/olive oils, etc. up from Seattle and it cost us $1/bottle for shipping.  That’s Alaska.


Boy oh boy, it’s good to be home (have I already mentioned this?).  Here our ferry returns south past our cabin after a trip up to Juneau and Haines.  Come up for a visit!