Today was a big day at the guide academy. I’ll take you through step by step, because it has all been too fun to leave anything out.
8:15 (Sharp!) Breakfast begins. Students are fuel up for a big day ahead…
9:30 Gear Conversation. What is needed for a day on the river? What do guides have to remember that clients may not have?
10:30 To the Vans! Instructors doled out waders and boots, packed up newly tied flies, donned raingear and headed to the river. Students tied on dry flies for rainbows and wild and crazy pink and purple flies (one of which was named, “Fancy Nancy”) for silvers. Happy to report… it was a success! Nothing like standing in the rain for hours and not having a single complaint from the kids. These students are accustomed to the Alaska weather in August, and are determined to perfect their cast and bring in fish! (Picured below: hands-on instruction on the Newhalen)
12:45 Lunch on the Newhalen River. Our Red Quill Lodge hosts drove up in the boat right when we were all soggily daydreaming of a hot cup of something. A bowl of soup, cookie, and hot cocoa were welcomed after standing in the river for a few hours.
2:00 Behind the scenes tour of Rainbow King Lodge. After rushing back to the lodge, changing and rushing back to the vans, we arrived for a tour of Rainbow King Lodge in Iliamna. Managers, Becky and Craig, showed the students the front and back of the lodge and emphasized important characteristics of their guides. While background knowledge in fishing is a plus they said, Becky and Craig look for guides who are patient, get enjoyment from clients bringing in a great catch, and who are also reliable. Students made mental notes as they prepare for mock client day on Sunday. Becky and Craig also emphasized the importance of the need to give clients a safe and high-quality experience each day on the water.
3:30 Talk with Iliamna VPSO (Village Safety Patrol Officer). Fred covered what to do in dangerous situations in the wilderness. One big tip: when in trouble – stay put so rescuers can find you! Fred also happened to be a guide, so students had lots of questions about his work.
5:00 Talk with Iliamna Clinic. Suzanne and Anne went into details about safety, what materials can help save a life, and gave some scenarios for the students to think through. Take home message: come prepared, and “don’t do anything stupid!” They also ensured the students knew that it doesn’t take expensive gear to safely enjoy the backcountry. “Just a sense of adventure and some common sense.”
6:30 Dinner. And man, were they hungry.
7:30 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Overview. River Academy co-founder, Tim Troll, expertly brought the students through the history of the events leading up to and after ANCSA, by having the students act them out in a play. Essentially, as we learned, ANCSA, signed into law by Nixon, was intended to resolve the issues over native land claims in Alaska. The settlement transferred titles to twelve regional corporations (now it’s 13) and over 200 local village corporations. This was introduced so students could understand the importance of knowing who owns the land when they stop for shore lunch (for example) with future clients.
9:00 Students go to bed. Exhausted, full of Alaskan history, and with the lingering smell of fish on their fingers.