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The Long Winters Work At The Cabin;

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Like many of the entries here this will be a multiple part story. I'll identify the pages; Part Two, and etc. until we reach the current time.
The story starts back on December 22, 2012 and I stayed out there until March 27, 2013. Over this time I did a lot of work but somehow it seems there is still so much to do that I'm not sure I'll live long enough to finish it all. I do intend to try.

Getting ready to leave home for a long trip into the Bush country is stressful, at least it is for me. The morning of the 22nd I was not really ready and I still needed a pert for the hitch on the snowmachine. By the time I had everything sorted out and got to Deshka Landing which is 38 miles from home and 75 more miles from the cabin it was after 2:00 PM and the temperature at Deshka was -27 degrees. Since I knew it would be dark by 4:30 and that the trip would take at least 3 hours or more I backed out and that was perhaps the best decision I made in all of 2012.

I stayed in touch with a friend who lives at Deshka and waited 3 long days for the weather to warm up at least to -10* and when it did on Christmas day I was ready to leave the next morning at 8:00 AM. I got to the launch area at about 9:15 and was loaded to go by 10:30. There is no need to hurry for this trip when it's -20 and you know you'll make it in daylight so I took my time and enjoyed the heater in the truck several times while packing up the sled and my snowmachine to go. I took a large container filled with emergency gear and food along with a fuel cube with 16.5 gallons of gas to grubstake me until I could get some 55 gallon drums hauled in.

By 10:30 it was light and I left Nancy and the warm truck behind. I stopped a couple miles down river from the launch and checked the binder straps on my sled to be sure things were good. With Denali and Foraker on the Northern horizon I snapped a couple pictures with fingers that could feel the bite of being out of my big leather & fur mittens and then I drove for 75 miles.

Here's a cropped shot of the big mountains;

To help put this trip into perspective, think of some town or creek that you drive to that is 75 miles away. Now consider driving a snowmachine that distance on river trails that will get very rough in some stretches for miles at a time. When you add the fact that the little sled you're pulling with your supplies & fuel has no suspension you must be very careful when you get into mogles and ice shelves. Very seldom does the river freeze in the late fall and stay that way. They freeze and breakup several times, each successive freeze forms ice ridges and shelves that can be 2 - 6 foot high. These make for a long trip.

I made it by about 2:30 in the afternoon and found the place perfectly frozen inside and out.

When I reached Hewitt lake there was very little snow out there, only 14 - 16" covered the ground and that's the least I've ever seen in December. That would all change over the next 3 months. By the time I would leave the snow would be piled up to just beneath the windows.

When I said that not leaving late on the 22nd was the best choice I made for 2012 I didn't know it until I got inside the cabin. My stove pipe cap had been torn off by wind during the summer and I had not replaced it. The first thing you do after a ride here in -25 degree weather is build a fire. When I opened the stove door to remove the ashes from the last use I knew why the decision not to leave and arrive in the dark on the 22nd was the best choice I had made in 2012.

Remember the blog post about the great flood of 2012? Well I opened the stove to find a pile of snow but that was the least of the problem. The bottom of the stove had filled with water from the endless rains of fall and was a 3" deep slab of ice. This would have been a disaster in the dark with colder air temps but it was bad enough as it was. The inside thermometer said -25 and I was a long way from a fire. With daylight wanning I had to think & move quickly. I took our little charcoal grill apart and found that the lid would fit through the stove door. I used kindling and charcoal to make fire & heat that would loosen the ice by warming the body of the stove. After removing the snow I placed my heater into the stove and waited. It took about half an hour for the ice to loosen and then I used a wood splitting maul to break it up so the pieces would fit through the door. I used the trash can to load up the ice and carry it outside.

What an incredible mess!

Almost done here.

I got my fire going and by 3:00 AM I had the place up to 45* inside and was able to sleep comfortably. All I could think of was how bad this would have been had I arrived in the dark. Anything like this is worse in the dark and when you are so cold that you're shaking from head to toes it seems even worse than it is.

I'll leave that as this entry and continue with things in the pages that follow. The weather did take a turn to the warm, too warm by the end of January but the first 2 weeks things were a steady negative reading on the thermometer. What a start that was with the ice in the stove

Your comments are most welcome.


  1. jaybo41's Avatar
    What a wonderful read Ard! You have quite the way with words! I always feel as though I'm the one experiencing the things you write about. I'm looking forward to parts 2 and 3. That's certainly not the kind of thing you want to experience when you arrive at camp, especially in those conditions.
  2. fyshstykr's Avatar
    Burrrrr! I'm shivering from just reading this Ard.....Oh, wait a minute I changed the rotation of all the ceiling fans yesterday. Certainly helped with the effect though.

    Great reading as always my friend, keep it up.
  3. Ard's Avatar

    You know why that stove was full of water but I decided against mentioning the 'why I hadn't replaced the stove pipe cap'. I did however get a Warner 32' Type I ladder out there and secure it so this will not reoccur!
  4. Ard's Avatar

    Your comments are one of the things that make this forum rewarding to me.
  5. jpbfly's Avatar
    Wow Ard!you did a great job inside and outside the cabin.Was looking forward to seeing pics and reading you reportGood Boss was there to keep you company.Your stovefreezer is amazing
  6. gunner's Avatar
    You must be related to Jack London --we're there, thanks to you. Great reading, as always!