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A New Home

A hole called “The wall” on the legendary Copper River in Alaska. (By Hunter Redfield/Student contributor)

By HUNTER REDFIELD – Student Contributor

It is funny to me how many times I’ve forgotten I’m in Alaska.

Every morning, I wake up and crawl out of my sleeping bag in the glorified tent known as a weatherport and make my way to the guide shack, getting coffee and breakfast and then catching and launching planes all morning.

Then I go about doing various chores, running shuttle up river in the jet boats and creating various new cracks and cuts in my hands every day from many jobs that need done.

I don’t think about the fact that the only car I’ve seen since I left home is the broken down red Jeep in waist high grass down in the woods. Or the fact that the main mode of transportation doesn’t have wheels but rather has floats instead.

It is almost shocking how the mountainous landscape that surrounds me turns into just another view like the oak filled valleys at home, and how darkness hasn’t been seen since I arrived here. With no thought, I can stand on the end of the dock and look into thirty feet deep water and see every stick and rock on the bottom as trout swim underneath.

The rumble of motorcycles heard at home has no comparison to the stunning growl of a Beaver engine as it screams, pulling off the water and gliding into the sky. All this seems to go unnoticed, and then I get to escape and go to the river, where every fish is wild and the majority are large.

I watch as eagles fly overtop, calling back and forth to each other, and a brown bear walks down the river bank just above me. Mergansers fly overtop, looking for more minnows to feed on as trout rises, eating every bug in sight.

The air has a fresh aroma of pine trees and wildflowers. The water elegantly flows through the most rugged rock walls and boulders. But the days exploring this ecosystem while fishing are very short lived, and I find myself working again and again.

Suddenly, in the middle of catching one of the Beavers at the dock, a giant splash is heard off the dock, and then another, and schools of sockeye gather around the dock structure.

They are awaiting a rain to cool the water, and then they flood the rivers, filling every pocket and riffle as they slowly begin to turn bright red. During a float trip, a wolverine is seen grabbing a salmon and crashing back into the brush with it, and a bear charges through the river also trying to catch his dinner.

Trout gather behind them, waiting for the most anticipated part of the year when the salmon spawn and the egg drop begins, and suddenly the entire ecosystem is dependent on the salmon.

Every day clients come back with smiles as they just had an amazing experience fishing the egg drop, and we all gather in the guides rooms and watch the same few movies over and over as we talk and joke.

Although home is a long way away, it becomes more and more evident every day that it will be extremely hard to leave this incredible place as well as the family I have gained right here in this far away place known as Alaska.

 

Columnist Hunter Redfield is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications class.

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