At 8:00 AM I wake to the sound of a small plane getting ready to land on our lake. “The plane! The plane!” I hear someone yell. In my excitement, I can’t unzip my tent to get out of it. Good thing this was not a bear attack. I busily start breaking down my tent and packing away my Thermarest and sleeping bag. I then hear the bad news. “It’s not ours.”
The competition, another air service, finally returned to break-down the other (better) camp site. Thanks guys, but it would have been nice if you did that 3 days ago. The others start eating breakfast but I keep packing. About 45 minutes later, a plane flies over our campsite and dips it wing at us and then heads over the pass to land at High Lake. This is our plane and it will be back to get us soon. This is a very quick response from the Copper Valley Air guys. I keep packing and I’m ready when the plane lands. Dan and I load up and say good-bye to Camp Mosquito. I feel bad leaving Kevin and Jayson to pack the inflatable boat, but someone had to be on the first and I was packed.
Back in civilization, there was no doubt as to where we would be camping: Tolsona Lake Resort. We unpack the plane and head over to check-in. I sit down at the bar, order a beer, order an egg sandwich, and check-in to our room all at the same time. Nice. More hotels should offer this type of service. After everyone is back and had visited the restaurant/bar, we head our room. Under normal circumstances, we would laugh at the fact that this place calls itself a resort. But today, it seems appropriate, if for no other reason than there is a hot shower.
We head out to find some local Salmon fishing. We stop at multiple locations and get a different story each time. “They aren’t running yet.” “The King’s are running strong.” “People i just talked to have only caught 1 in the 4 days.” “You need fancy lures, salmon roe, and waders to catch them.” “My two kids caught 8 fishing off the bank last night using colored string as bait.” The “expert” appears to be Sourdough Joe, the bearded old man selling fireworks outside the Hub of Alaska gas station store. He tells us which fancy lures we need (they sell ones he’s made inside the store) and he tells us how to attach the roe to the lure. He yells the entire time we talk to him and doesn’t charge us a thing. We start talking guns and he pulls a .50 caliber single shot hand out from behind the counter. He also has a .44 barrel for it. He has another pistol there and also says he has Ruger Super Blackhawk, but he can’t find it behind the counter. Jayson tells Sourdough Joe that we’ll bring him some specialty Buffalo Bore high-powered rounds for his .44. He’s never seen these before and is very excited.
We head out to the liquor store behind which there is “awesome fishing” according to Sourdough. Before heading to the river, we stop by the liquor store for some Jack and advice. The guy claims no-one has ever caught anything behind the store (under the bridge) because the water is too fast. Since there is no one there fishing, we believe him, and head over to Copper Center. It’s combat fishing, with about 30 people casting into the river. We try our luck for about an hour and a half and catch nothing, using every combination of bait and weights we can. Kevin is starving and has a nasty hamburger by the river before we head back to the resort for dinner.
The special for the night was Prime Rib. I’m not all that hungry, so I go for the grilled cheese sandwich. I’m sure I’ve insulted someone. Exhausted, I head back to the room for a shower and a nap before karaoke night. About an hour later, I’m back at the lodge and the others are playing pool. The locals are very in to their karaoke; a couple of them perhaps too much so. I’m still half asleep and the bell rings, meaning someone just bought a round for everyone. As we finish our beer, Jayson asks for the tab. I’m still half asleep, but I insist that we don’t leave without singing first. The 4 of us join one of the employees in “Knocking on Heavens Door.” Someone notices the 4 of us leaving ask us if it is ture. We confirm and someone shouts, “You all are a bunch of pu****s.” If I were well rested, that would have been all it took to get me to stay until 4:00 when the closed-up. But I was exhausted and had to agree with them and head to bed.