Discovered in the late 1890s by prospector Alexander King, Six Mile Creek held great veins of gold. It took no time at all for the town and surrounding valleys to become overrun by miners and prospectors seeking riches. The town eventually went bust and many of the buildings were left to dissolve back to the earth.
Views of sea stack rocks and a high tide on Turnigan Arm immediately reminded me of coastal Oregon. The sun sank low behind clouds turning the sky a golden hue in contrast to the rolling swells. working the coast from the Cook Inlet.
The dirt road into town was lined with RV's and bestickered worn vehicles in the ditch. Earth friendly families pushed strollers down the road to the only open establishment in town, The Seaview Cafe. Bearded patrons and women in neoprene boots spilled out the door and burdened the outdoor porch. I parked across the street along a campsite and removed my gear before entering the establishment.
I waited 10 minutes for a beer among the polite and packed crowd. The wait provided time to absorb the eclectic mix of rough wood interior and antique photographs of the towns rich past. "Give me whatever's black" I shouted to the bartender. $5 later I had a dark locally brewed Stout and worked my way out through the busy dancefloor. The evening's musical act, Tim Easton, picked on a worn Gibson J-45 guitar, stomping his worn cap-toe leather boot on the wide planking. Hung flower pots swayed back and forth, moved by the stomps and dances of local dancers young and old. People tapped toes to the beer and clapped along. Some knew the lyrics and sang loud to his Americana style Nashville sounds. His fenale partner played a mean fiddle, her bow flying skyward alongside backing vocals. An older couple in doubled patched thick blue jeans and her in a purposeful outdoor outfit reeled and danced with knees high and smiles higher. Watching old people in love always brings a warmth to my heart.
I met a wonderful woman inside who thoroughly enjoyed my story and flagged down the bald, bearded bartender to buy me a beer. She lived in Anchorage but kept a cabin in Hope for the weekends. She frequented the Seaview on weekends enjoying red wine and the youthful exuberance of folks blowing off steam.
The band began after an intermission and I bounced along to the beat while pot-smoke drifted through the salty sea air above the crowd. Everyone was having a a great time and I soon noticed two beautiful women beside me who rebuked the offer to dance by a young man barely old enough to hold his beer. "What's their name?!" She asked loudly between songs. I pointed to the worn and well travelled guitar case stenciled "TIM EASTON J-45" on its side. After the last notes of the great music drifted out to sea, Nora and Molly introduced themselves and offered me the remains of their pitcher of beer. I gladly accepted and we enjoyed a warm conversation about life in Alaska, recreation through the season and life in such a great place. I briefly explained the journey I've been on which led Molly to ask where I would be pitching my tent. I asked for suggestions and they offered to put up beside their camp acros the road. We marched through the alder thicket to a dark fire pit surrounded by family tents. I set up and helped build a small fire upon which we crafted s'mores improved upon by mini Snickers bars warmed on the rocks. We drank local beer and absorbed the woodsmoke and pleasant evening of stories. Be early morning, surrounding fires died out and th e musicians from the cafe emerged from the darkness. Light from the fire danced on their faces as we munched on s'mores and shared stories of travel, touring and distant lands. One thing we could all agree on was the amazing people and opportunities still available in this, the last frontier.
I made coffee and pancakes for our group in the morning. Sophia shared her delicious homemade quiche which I devoured sitting on the ground. We packed up gear and said goodbye on the dusty Main Street under warm rays of a mid morning sun. I nosed around town taking pictures and exploring down Six Mile Creek.
Fisherman constantly reeled in Silvers along the flowing creek. I paused at the sight of a salmon within arms reach. I climbed down the slippery silt muck by holding on to grasses. Down in the channel, I slowly walked up to the footlong salmon and plunged my hands down into the icy water. To my surprise, I emerged with the ancient fish squirming in my hands. Triumphantly, I took a picture of the tired salmon before tossing it free back into its home to die.