Phone Calls From the Healing Journey


National Geographic grantee and contributor Jon Waterhouse, an avid paddler and Alaska Region Director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, is leading the 2010 Healing Journey down the Koyukuk River from Coldfoot to Koyukuk, Alaska. Along the way, he’s calling from the field via satellite phone to share stories with BlogWild readers of the river, the wilderness, the wildlife, and the people he encounters.

“Hi Ford, Jon Waterhouse, I thought I’d drop you a quick line. It’s the 28th of June, about 8 o’clock my time. We left Coldfoot, Alaska last night really late and landed about 1:15 a.m. on a beach. We spent the night, short night, and then got out again today. Every day throughout the journey at 14:21—that’s 2:21 p.m.—I’ll write down what the water’s doing. I don’t know if anybody will be interested, but you never know!

“Today, the 28th of June, was my 54th birthday. And down the river we went.

“We’re in a really remote area. We haven’t seen any people, which is kind of nice. But we did see a lot of beavers and Canadian geese, had a moose in camp first thing this morning, baby ducks, baby geese, some grebes—all the standard wildlife we see out here in the wilderness.

“We’ve seen a lot of wolf tracks near where we’re camping at night, a lot of wolf tracks and some river otter tracks. That’s about it.

“It was 90 degrees today. It’s 21:44 here, so 9:44 p.m. The sun is bright, a beautiful sun in the middle of the long afternoon for us right now. [Near the Arctic Circle at the start of summer, it doesn’t get dark until almost midnight.] The river’s nice, smooth and calm. Oddly, it was really green upriver, and here today it is clear.

“Tomorrow we’ll be on the road all day, in camp again tomorrow night. I’ll give you a ring maybe. And then the next day after that, we should be into Allakaket and Alatna. One of them’s a fairly large village, the other one is small.

“They’re all expecting us. They’re very excited. They use a website up here called ‘My Family.’ Everyone up here’s been chatting away, talking about the Healing Journey coming to their town. That’s pretty exciting. People up here are pretty amped up about this!

“Hope you’re enjoying Iceland. Have a good day, we’ll talk to you soon. Take care!”