Now There’s Ice Passing Napaimute (May 3rd 9:00PM)

After days of now ice going by, something upriver let loose.  As of 8:30 this evening small intermittent chunks began passing, then they got more common and larger.  Now some 300 feet long are passing.

The water level has dropped a few inches…for now.

I talked to Eric Morgan in Chuathbaluk and he said their ice is now moving.  Word is that the ice in Aniak is also moving down the slough and piling up on the dike.

Looking upriver - but there are much larger ones behind this one

May 3rd – Still Tranquil After All These Days

Not much has changed over the past few days.  It did snow a little as you can see, and the temperature is around 30 degrees at 8:00 AM.  It’s calm as could be.

The jam upriver still hasn’t given out, so we’ve got only a little slush floating past.  Water level hasn’t varied much – partly due to the cool weather.

Community Center with a dusting of snow


Looking upstream


Looking downstream

Very Little Ice Wed. Evening – NOAA Web Site Link

As of 6:45 PM on May 2nd there is very little ice passing Napaimute.  However, there is still plenty of ice upriver.  There is a substantial jam several miles below Sleetmute that is backing water up and causing some flooding on the roads.

The water here at Napaimute has risen about an inch an hour since noon.

You can see from the following River Watch map ( where the ice still is as of 4:00 PM this afternoon.  Note that Sleetmute is designated with a Flood Warning and Red Devil with a Flood Watch.

Ice conditions as of 4:00 PM May 2nd


Here’s what the river is doing at Napaimute as of 7:00 PM on May 2nd.


Looking downstream from Napaimute


Looking upstream

River Conditions At Napaimute As Of 11:00 PM Tuesday Evening May1

At about 10:00 PM on Tuesday a fair amount of ice came through, but it only lasted an hour and the water was dropping as it went by.

The River Watch folks say there is still a good amount of ice upriver waiting to come down still.


The last push of ice at 10:00 PM


Looking upstream at 10:00 PM


What was left behind


Safe for another year...maybe?


Tonight's moon

Some Ice Now Coming Down Past Napaimute

No sooner did I hit the publish key on that last post when I looked up and low and behold here came some ice.

It appears that a minor jam broke lose and we had ice passing for almost an hour (5:45 pm).  It’s now diminished, but the water did come up almost a foot in the past two hours.

First substantial ice all day.

Kuskokwim Still Ice-Free at Napaimute

As of 5:30 p.m. the river is still ice-free – although word is that there is a jam located between Sleetmute and Red Devil; so more ice is on the way.  The water level has dropped about three feet since this morning.


It’s been cold and windy all day, with the wind coming from the west.  The sun is finally showing itself!


This is what the river has looked like all day - but it won't last once the jam upriver breaks

GCI Cell Service Comes to Napaimute

GCI Technician Installing Cell Equipment on the Tower at the Community Building

After weeks of delays due to the extended deep cold our region experienced this winter, the weather moderated and GCI technicians were able to install cell service in Napaimute on February 21st.

This system is the first of its kind in our region. The cell signal comes in through the small GCI dish we already have for our regular phones and Internet.

The cell signal is then broadcast through a special antennae from the tower we put up two years ago.

At this time, the range is limited to the original village site as far down as the airport, upstream to Avakumoff’s fish camp, and the foothills south of the River, but we are very thankful for this service.

It is very nice to be able to make and recieve calls from right in your own house or from any of the Tribe’s buildings.

Thank you GCI!

The Harvester Is Up And Running


After returning from the training in Washington, I (Mark Leary) spent an additional three days in Anchorage purchasing and shipping additional supplies for the project.

This included things like food, steel for the log skids, parts, and assorted oils, grease, etc. needed for our equipment.

The start-up expenses for this project have been great. A lot of it was anticipated, but some of it wasn’t like the several thousand in spare parts for the harvester that we purchased in Washington following the recommendation given at the training. We’ve also been getting a hard lesson in the cost of shipping freight to Rural Alaska. Fuel surcharges are higher than ever. The lowest I could find was 29%. So for every dollar we spent shipping freight, we pay an additional $0.29 in fuel surcharges!

The week of March 12 we all came back to Napaimute to do preparations for the harvest. Our first priority was to transport over 9,000 pounds of freight from Aniak to Napaimute. Besides all of the things I personally shipped from Anchorage, there were items that had been previously ordered. This included things like: tire chains for our equipment, steel banding, oxygen & acetylene for our cutting torch, batteries and a port-a-potty.

Moving harvesting freight by snow machine

We intended to move all of this freight by truck – the cheapest and easiest way – but the snow is so deep this year – it would take a plowed road on the River so we spent time measuring  the ice and marking  the route for plowing.  We tried plowing the road, but first the grader broke down. Luckily it broke down right here at Napaimute and not way down the River somewhere.

Then we started to plow a simple one lane road with our little dozer. The dozer made it down to just above Anita’s (about 12 miles) before it broke down too.  We have since fixed it and brought it back to Napaimute, but each break down is another expense.

After all of this trouble we ended up hauling the freight by snow machine and sled. The whole crew went down and got most of it in one trip. I went back a couple of days later and moved the last 3,500 lbs in one load. It was hard on the snow machine but it got done.

3,500 lb. load - the little pallet in front of Job Johnny is 2,500 lbs of steel banding

With all of the supplies in Napaimute we could now work on getting ready to do the harvest. One of our crew was dedicated to hauling additional fuel from Aniak – 100 gallons a day by snow machine. We burned up a lot of our fuel plowing out everything around here: the runway, the road on the beach, etc. and starting to realize that this wood harvest was going to take longer than planned, we needed additional fuel.

Plowing the runway

After breaking for the week end, our crew went back to work on March 19th. I was in Bethel intending to return on the 20th (the trip to Bethel is too long to just stay for 2 nights). The guys called on the afternoon of the 19th to report that trying to work was just a waste of Napaimute’s money. It was minus 30 in the morning. They were spending all their time just warming up equipment and trying to get it started. We decided it would be best to hold off and everybody returned home. It turned out to be a good decision as the rest of the week was even colder.

One of the many preparations: putting on the chains

Sawmilling 6,000' of dunnage


The weather finally broke and we hit the ground running during the week of March 26th. There was a lot to do so work went on from 9AM to 9PM, with me cooking. Preparations that week included:

  • Finish putting tire chains on loaders and truck
  • Sawmilling dunnage for the log bundles (we need 6,000 lineal feet)
  • Many little repairs/maintenances of the equipment
  • Welding the skids to modify them for hauling logs
  • Prepping the harvester for work after sitting all winter
  • Loading up all of the necessary support supplies and equipment for the move down to the harvest site.
  • Moving it all down there

Moving down to the harvest site was a major job in itself.  Between the deep snow and a couple of break downs (more expense) it took us the better part of two days to move everything and set up the camp.