Doc Warner’s Fishing Adventure, South East Alaska

Doc Warner’s is a family run self-guided fishing lodge in South East Alaska. It’s located in Excursion Inlet, just east of Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park. It’s a seasonal lodge running late May to the middle of September and it’s main office is in Bountiful, Utah. I worked there for 3 summers as their head chef and got to experience some amazing wildlife, met incredible people, and got to fish some of the best waters in all of South East Alaska. I met some life-long friends that I still keep in contact with. Here’s my 20!
1. Hooked into a sea lion with a halibut jig after it tried to steal my halibut. I never saw it again…
2. Almost ran into a breaching whale in a speeding boat careening through the water, potentially becoming a disastrous event.
3. Helped my sister catch a keeper king salmon, making us jump up and down like little girls in excitement.
4. Those countless times waking up wayyyy too early to go out fishing with anybody that would take me.
5 Being able to teach a cooking class on how to cook fish every Friday night for a bunch of the guests.
6. Learning how to fly fish, one of the most relaxing, yet frustrating, things I’ll ever do.
7. Getting to spend time in nature, learning about how nice doing nothing in a boat can be to your mental health.
8. Catching a 102 pound halibut, getting it all the way up to the boats edge only to have it take my line all the way down to the bottom of the ocean again. I eventually got it in the boat.
9. Jumping off giant 25 foot pylons jutting out of the ocean into the frigid water of the Pacific Ocean below.
10. I got to see so many bears that they became a regular part of my life.
11. Seeing hundreds of eagles devouring the leftovers of a 550 lbs. sleeper shark.
12. Getting the opportunity to be surrounded by dozens of beautiful humpback whales and orcas, solidifying my obsession with whales as a whole.
13. Being in the wilderness virtually cut off from most of society for the first time in my life.
14. Being able to share Alaska with family that hasn’t traveled that much, preserving memories we’ll all have for years to come.
15. Watched an eagle catch a fish, struggling to get out of the water, and eventually just swimming back to the shore with the fish in tow.
16. Walking down the hill to turn on the generator for the day at 3 AM in the pitch black of night, opening the door to the generator bathing myself in light, and noticed I was walking next to a black bear all the way down to the generator.
17. Meandering through the disconnected paths at the salmon cannery up the inlet from my lodge to reach a pristine lake to paddle boat in.
18. Wandering the shore line of the camp with my fishing pole in hand to catch some pink salmon to halibut fish with.
19. Getting lost in Juneau’s downtown while trying to find a place to eat or something to do in the days after leaving the lodge for the season.
20. Having to carry hundreds of pounds of filleted salmon and halibut home over a couple thousand miles on planes, taxis, and carts.

Deadhorse Camp

Deadhorse, Alaska is a town right outside the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. It’s the only connection to the outside world most of the oil workers have while they’re on the North Slope. I worked at the hotel right outside of town that housed mostly seismic workers, equipment rental employees, any tourist traveling up the Dalton Highway for a tour of the oil field, and the few employees that work at the camp. A lot of the employees work there year-round, giving them a great rapport with the town. Here’s my 20 of Deadhorse Camp!

1. The first sight of Deadhorse was in the worst storm they had of the season while I climbed out of the plane.
2. My first night at Deadhorse filled my room with a small pile of snow, still being the worst weather I’ve ever been in.
3. Having complete freedom with what I was able to cook for the residence of Deadhorse Camp.
4. Getting off work and watching the entire series of Entourage and House with my fellow coworkers
5. Driving down the Dalton Highway a few miles just to watch the ice break up in the Sagavanirktok River.
6. Going to the Deadhorse “mall” to aimlessly walk around and finally settle on buying a pad of paper.
7. Driving into town on my day off to grab a hot coffee from the Prudhoe Bay Hotel’s coffee shop.
8. Walking aimlessly through the hotels the oil companies employ to house all their extra employees.
9. Watching the big oil rigs driving down the road, effectively cutting off any kind of transportation in the town.
10. Having documentary and smoothie night every Friday night.
11. Waking up early to go to the gym, mostly for something to do.
12. Watching the BBC Crew’s adventure in trying to film the Arctic Fox on the tundra over a couple week period.
13. Making a snow man in a blizzard with thick, windproof clothes on. Think of Ralph’s little brother in The Christmas Story. That’s what I looked like.
14. Getting geared up in my winter clothes to chase the Aurora Borealis around the camp to get a better view.
15. Getting yelled at by the equipment operators for wandering around the camp in the middle of the night to get a better view of the Aurora Borealis.
16. Trudging through mud and snow melt every night just to get to my room.
17. Becoming a master of adjusting between two or three space heaters in my room to keep it a cool F60 degrees in my room while it’s F-70 degrees outside.
18. Having to tell tourists driving 500 miles up the Dalton Highway that the tours to the Arctic Ocean don’t start for another few months.
19. Laughing at tourists that just drove 500 miles up the Dalton Highway to get a tour to the Arctic Ocean without checking if they’re open yet.
20. Meeting new people that will likely be life-long friends after spending 6 months on the Arctic Coast with them.

Coldfoot Camp

Coldfoot Camp was, and still is, a bustling rest stop about 200 miles north of Fairbanks. It’s really the only consistent service station on the Dalton Highway. It has also imprinted on me, driving my mind always back to the beautiful valley that Coldfoot Camp rests in at the base of the Brooks Mountain Range. Here’s my 20!

1. I walked through swampy trails after a big rain, thoroughly soaking my feet, my first day in camp.
2. I played with cute sled dog puppies almost daily.
3. I flew through the Gates of the Arctic in a very small Cherokee plane.
4. On more than one occasion, I was almost persuaded to swim in the Koyukuk River at bonfires.
5. I chased the Aurora Borealis down the Dalton Highway in a tour van just to get a better glimpse at it.
6. I learned how to play the Ukulele. Rather badly, but nonetheless.
7. I hitch-hiked with some nice and extremely vulgar truckers along the Dalton Highway.
8. I made an ass of myself by clumsily throwing a canned beverage over a fire to a fellow coworker, completely missing him, and inadvertently hitting another coworker on the head. (Sorry Justin. haha.)
9. I made my first (successful) marble rye bread.
10. The fact that my boss was always there whenever I needed him helped me achieve my goals.
11. Playing Corn Hole with my fellow coworkers and friends after a long week of work.
12. Meeting up with some friends I hadn’t seen in years since my first year in Alaska while in Fairbanks.
13. Sleeping in a hostel with my sleeping bag while eating bagel sandwiches cause I was too cheap to buy real food in Fairbanks.
14. Hiking up one of the mountains in the Brooks Range.
15. Stepping up my fitness game and actually running outside. That scenery, though…
16. Sitting at the bar, watching Top Gear, eating my breakfast, and talking to whomever was closing out the host position that night right before my early morning shift started at 2 AM.
17. All those nights spent watching movies as a Coldfoot Camp family.
18. Standing dumbfounded below the Aurora Borealis while it danced overhead like a mirage.
19. Drifting down the Koyukuk River while one of the guides artfully maneuvered our raft around the bends and corners of the river.
20. Getting some old gold miner’s life story while visiting the Wiseman museum.
21. Getting to cook with some of the nicest and most decent human beings I’ve ever worked with.
22. Playing terets in the coworker tent around a big table full of laughter.

I’ll probably keep adding more as I remember them. So more to come!