Jan Schnorr, Alaska Regional Coordinator
On June 23rd, disabled veteran participants and volunteers from Anchorage and Wasilla headed to Tangle Lakes, Alaska – only 290 miles from Anchorage. The 5 to 6 hour drive is long but spectacular with miles of black spruce tundra and mountain ranges capped with glaciers. During our last outing to Tangle, participants had the privilege of staying in a lodge; unfortunately the lodge has closed so everyone camped in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Campground. The weather cooperated and we had sunny days filled with a much needed respite, fun, lots of stories and phenomenal fishing.
Two weeks prior to our arrival, the BLM worked diligently to open the campground, which required removing a five foot high snow drift that blocked the entry. The lakes were still frozen but the river was at flood stage. By the time we arrived, most of the snow had melted except for the trail to the mouth of the river. Temperatures change dramatically during this time period so we were delighted to have temperatures that hovered around 70+ degrees, a rarity in these mountains.
The water was still cool and the bugs were hatching so everyone caught grayling. All we had to do was drop a fly in the water and let it drift and soon it would disappear, which was followed by “fish on”. The grayling were not picky; they took a variety of parachute style flies, renegades, Cracklebacks and beadheads. One participant even caught grayling while sitting in a lawn chair next to the boat.
The photos below tell only a partial story about the healing experience of camaraderie in a wilderness where no words can express the inner peace and joy that fills and helps to heal.
Special thanks go to numerous groups including the BLM boat drivers Tim Sundlov, Jason Post, Collin Cogley, and Mike Lindsay along with another volunteer Dave Widby who transported everyone down river to spots were they could fish easily. Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment (WISE) prepared meals for the BLM and coordinated a special potluck for all participants and volunteers on Saturday evening, which included a fresh king salmon fillet courtesy of Tim Sundlov. A special thanks goes out to Bob Dobranski who contributed substantial financial funding for this trip as well as numerous previous trips to Tangle Lakes.