The third day of a float trip surveying the Copper River and Northwest Railroad bed along the east shore of the Copper River from Chitina to Cordova, Alaska, during the summer of 1998. We rose knowing our time would be spent pursuing one of the essential tasks on a long float trip; replenishing drinking water. Down river we secured the rafts along a steep bank with evidence of a fresh water stream, and thrashed our way through the underbrush toward the sound of a waterfall. As we hiked away from the river the temperature grew warmer and mosquitoes swarmed out of nowhere. They clung to every inch of clothing and skin that was not protected, biting fiercely. We sprayed repellent liberally and donned head nets for protection.
Filtering drinking water is a slow, tedious task. Everyone took turns manually pumping the stream water through the filter filling each water bottle, then the five gallon jug. Drinking water was carefully conserved and protected, we used silty river water for everything else. Once this task was complete, we boarded the rafts to continue the exploration of the historic rail bed, our next stop the Tasnuna River delta, a mile wide area full of sand bars. We hoped to explore the remains of the rail bed and consider possible bridge construction for a future Rail Trail.
Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist