Day #22 – Quail Island – 49 mi

Imre stopped in Kaltag and again he spent about an hour and a half on the beach, without turning off his Spot device. This is a new “habit”, and we are wondering what the goal of these not-too-long but not-too-short stops might be.

After Kaltag Imre passed Big Eightmile Island, and you shouldn’t have to have read yesterday’s post to figure out how far the island is from the village.

Salmon is in season, and according to The Book, for the next 5-6 days (until reaching Russian Mission) a paddler should see at least 5 black bears each day. So far, Imre always tried to put up his tent on islands – now he will absolutely have to do so.

The pictures are still from the first package he had sent to us, taken on the first week of his trip. We are expecting to receive the second set any day now.

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Blind Judo Foundation – Why?

Why Judo?

Judo is a great sport. The word means “gentle way” and that sounds strange as we are talking about a type of martial arts, but it’s true. There are no punches or kicks in judo, and your goal is NOT to hurt your partner. You use their weight and momentum to take them to the floor and your own weight to keep them down. You do need strength, but it is much more about technique.

Judo people are a wonderful community. At the SJB Judo Club, which the Kabai family belongs to, all instructors are volunteers. They have been training for many years or even decades, and they don’t get a dime for showing up twice a week to teach. They use their time and money to travel to tournaments to coach the kids. Even some of the best instructors, the tournament referees, are volunteers. So are the parents who staff all judo events.

Imre did judo as a child. Later (after watching his kids in judo for a couple of years) he returned as an adult. After a year or two, due to a non-judo related knee injury he had to quit.

Why Blind Judo?

If you are like most people and you don’t have a blind person in your immediate family or circle of friends, this question probably never crossed your mind: How do blind people exercise to stay healthy? Judo can be a great choice for a blind or visually impaired person. The opponents are in constant physical contact, so seeing your opponent is not essential. In fact blind people often win against a sighted athlete. Judo improves their sense of balance  and teaches them how to fall safely, skills that can be of great help in a blind person’s everyday life, let they be a child, an adult, or maybe an injured veteran.

Why Blind Judo Foundation?

During the season of the Olympics, remember reading “Proudly Supporting the Olympic Games” on every bottle of soft drink and every box of cereal? Have you ever seen “Proudly Supporting the Paralympic Games” anywhere? Who sponsors blind athletes when they travel to international tournaments or the Paralympic Games? Well, often their coach does, from his own money. The Blind Judo Foundation supports these athletes and also young kids to participate in judo camps, clinics and tournaments. We want to help.

To learn more or to donate, please click here.
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Day #21 – Halfway Island – 63 mi

Imre has passed several points of interest today. Bishop Rock, which is a fish camp, then the village of Koyukuk. The Book warns about quick mud surrounding the island here where the Koyukuk river reaches the Yukon. One has to be very careful when stepping out of the boat.

The next point is Last Chance which has a liquor store. From here to the mouth of the Yukon it is illegal to possess alcohol.

It seems Imre stopped in Nulato (pop. 300) for a good hour, than passed Ninemile Island (which is nine miles from Nulato) and chose a smaller island next to Halfway Island to spend the night. Halfway Island got its name from being halfway between Nulato and the next village Kaltag.

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Day #20 – Galena – 52 mi

Galena is a large village of about 800 people. This is the last option to stock up on food and other necessities for the next 500 miles, and is a favorite stop for paddlers. But Imre heard news about recent vandalisms here and did his shopping yesterday in Ruby. The Spot messages show that he did stop in Galena for about 30 minutes but probably did not leave his kayak (he didn’t turn off the device). Maybe he was just talking to people, getting current information about river, weather and bear conditions. No way to know.

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Day #19 – Ruby – 15 mi

Imre called. He said decided to have an easy day today. His original plan was to do grocery shopping and laundry, to mail another set of SD photos and call home from Galena, he wasn’t planning on staying in Ruby. He changed his mind for two reasons. First of all, he was tired, yesterday he had a hard time when he got caught in a storm. He is several days ahead of schedule, so it’s OK. When in Ruby, he heard that in Galena vandals ruined two kayaks/canoes in the past few days, so he decided to stay away from that village and spend the night and do the chores in Ruby.

Imre had met a couple interesting people since our last phone call. He says the villagers are just as curious about white people arriving on kayaks, as the paddlers are interested in learning about the Native Alaskans. Imre mentioned his bear encounter (Day #11) to someone, and was surprised when later several people approached him asking “Tell me how was that bear story?”

A few days ago someone introduced Imre to a fellow Hungarian. The man was very happy: “I’ve been waiting for 30 years for a Hungarian to stumble upon here!” He made a nice breakfast for Imre and they talked for a long time. The man is a bear expert, he explained that a grizzly doesn’t know the concept of a kayak and seeing the moving paddles, she probably thought this whole thing was a moose, and attacked it.

Imre stocked up on food as there will be no grocery store for the next 500 miles, almost all the way to the sea. He mailed the second set of SD cards, which will probably be the last ones as he doesn’t expect to ring any more post offices. He might not even find a public phone until he is almost at the mouth of the river.

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Day #18 – Horner Hot Springs – 76 mi

Imre passed a potentially dangerous part of the Yukon named Big Eddy. 7-8 foot waves are not unusual here. Luckily The Book clearly shows the path to choose to avoid the most dangerous area.

The Book also mentions that the surrounding area covers the bodies of mammals that lived here 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. As the Yukon cuts through the permafrost, the bodies of these animals often get exposed and one can smell the rotting flesh.

Let’s finish the post with some refreshing pictures.

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Day #17- Kallands – 57 mi

During the day, Imre stopped in the village named Tanana. He spent about 3 hours there but apparently he wasn’t able to call home. The Tanana River is Alaska’s second largest river. From here on, the Yukon is huge, one mile wide on average. The Book suggest that small boats keep to the shore as even a little breeze can stir up 5-6 foot waves.

0707-DSCN0062 If you have read at least a few posts on this blog you know that whenever he can, Imre spends the night on an island. The main reason is bear safety.
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