As we have traveled, we have come to understand that the vastness of the area and the rare travel by any means outside of the few road corridors result in little impact on the millions of acres of land. In addition, the sheer quantity of some types of prey species has been a source of subsistence hunting and fishing for people and other predators for millennium.
To our excitement, every fishing pole along the shore seemed bent with the weight of salmon as RV’s crowded the road. We hurried to join folks, snagging salmon coming down ocean currents toward fresh water. Locals prefer the richer, red flesh of the Sockeye (reds) and Coho (silvers) that arrive later in the season, but we found the flaky pinks tasty too.
As we have come up through the different highways, we have stopped at many First Nation villages, interpretive centers, and special sites. In all, they talk about the importance of the salmon to their culture, their winter food stocks, and to the animals such as eagles and grizzlies. We have looked at river traps and drying shacks and come to understand that this gift from the sea means survival in a place where winter temperatures make our native city of Gunnison look balmy in January.
The seasons are challenging, but the brief period of abundance allows existence for those able to gather and store the wealth of plant and animal life each summer.
(Pictures of Pink Salmon, a family fishing for subsistence, and a very wet Bald Eagle)
Posted in Valdez, Alaska.