For those of you who haven’t really followed my postings over the years, after Dean and I brought the property down near Hurricane (aka Hurricane cabin near Chulitna Alaska) we applied for the State of Alaska Land Lottery and won, along with 50 or so other folks. Anyway, the land lottery is the state’s replacement to Home Steading and a pretty good deal, at least I think so.
So I made the trip to Seattle and the Swedish Medical Center to follow up on the brain surgery my local doctor said I needed. To accomplish this I had to cancel all my hunting plans and spend three days in Seattle in a very small room. The bottom line, my cyst is not a cyst but an anomaly and doesn’t require surgery, yeah team.
Well I guess it’s time to review the roll over I had on the 4th of July weekend. We got to where Peter said the group was meeting, this was 50 miles down the rough and ready Denali Hwy and then another 7 miles up the Valdez Creek Mine Road to a nice pull out with a view. So far an easy if bumpy ride, well almost easy, crossing Valdez Creek shortly after turning off the Denali Hwy was a challenge. The challenge of course was convincing my lovely bride that we wouldn’t get sweep away crossing what was a pretty good roaring river. Heck it only came over the top of the tires for a few feet.
So we made it and nobody got wet which was nice. After getting camp set up I was informed that Peter was leading a ride farther up the valley, you can see it on the track log included in the pictures. It was a beautiful evening and a nice ride with only a couple of wet crossings, granted one of those was 500 feet long with nice deep pool at the end to get over, but still enjoyable.
After my end of the season trip last April I figured I’d wait until the snow was gone and the weather improved to make my first summer trip in. Well the snow did melt and summer did arrive along with lots of rain so far this year.
I drove down Thursday evening and had my mind set to get stuck a couple of times on the ride in, surprise, surprise, made it to the cabin without getting stuck once, that was a change. You will notice that the first picture in the album below is of bear pop, taken about 50 feet just before the cabin. Dang bear(s) tore up some more of my form board and decided to leave me a nice little pile to show his support, Ha.
And it was a doozy, the day started out fairly good, worked 4 hours, then drove down to my parking spot and unloaded. Plan was to make the first trip in with necessities and then make a couple more to haul the 1/3 cord of firewood I brought along. Well as they say, the “Best made plans of men and mice”, it was 2:00 PM by time I was able to start my first run in. It was getting pretty warm and I figured I’d see how the ride was going in with a light load.. hahahaha, it’s 3 miles from the parking spot to the cabin. Normally a 10 to 15 minute ride, it took me 4 hours and 38 minutes to make it.
Got stuck 5 times and as you can see from the pictures below, the first time also included rolling the Bearcat and then burning out my belt. After getting unstuck and going again I figured I’d be OK, nope, got stuck three more time and was just about to turn around and head back to the rig when one of my neighbors, Ron, showed up. He helped me get the Bearcat back up and on to the semi-packed trail and then he rode lead on his nice little and very light weight Tundra. We made it into the cabin and there I stayed. It was 6:38 PM and I was pretty well wiped out.
The week of April 11th is Arcticman week and everyone who rides is pretty much down at Summit watching the races and enjoying the third largest city in Alaska for those 7 days. Me, I prefer some quite time and headed on down to the cabin to finish the last of the repairs to the foundation and yes it’s done. So now I can get back to insulating and maybe working on the inside walls.
As I have a hard time making a trip down there without hauling some materials in, I hauled in 10 sheets of OSB and some 40 odd 2x4s for the skirting, and seeing as it was 35 above and sunny, I went for a ride on Friday after getting all the hauling done. It was blue bird skies and just beautiful, no one else was around and I had an enjoyable and quite weekend. Of course Trish always gets “concerned” when I go down to the cabin alone, but man its sure nice to have that alone time in the woods.
March this year has been more about getting the cabin foundation fixed (you do remember my shock last August http://johnstons.cc/index.php/archives/2607) after the big lean than anything else. I made two trips and almost have all of the cribs in and the beams straighten and braced, one more trip should do it and then I can get back to finishing up the insulation.
Of course there was a few hickups during March as well with Trish’s health. So far everything is looking better, but the poor thing has had one H E double L of a winter. We think we may have it all worked out and she should get back on schedule.
The pre-race conditions for the Iron Dog was pretty strange this year, heck our whole winters been strange this year, I’ve heard it called the winter that wasn’t and the winter of OCD, take your pick, it’s simply been a very different one. It started out pretty good with some decent snow fall, then it warmed up and rained, rain and winter months do not mix well in the Interior.
So the weeks before the Iron Dog start of Feb 14th there were lots of discussions on moving the race start to Fairbanks, maybe go north of Big Lake (historical starting place), maybe skip Nome and have the racers turn south once they reached the Yukon River. But the board decided that this is the Iron Dog, be tough or go home, so we kept the race track intact and everyone was geared to run. We did (or I should say the racers) got lucky and mother nature provided some snow fall, not much mind you but enough to help.
I have to say I had my hesitation on this year’s ride and considered canceling it after the warmer than normal temps and rain fall we’d been having. But when I saw the 3 to 4 inches of fresh snow on my deck I was glad we I didn’t cancel it and it turned out to be a great ride.
The temp were right around zero to 2 above at Chena Pump Landing where we all meet at 10:00 a.m. and stayed in that range all day. We did have some cloud cover in the morning and I was thinking we might have some flat light to deal with, but it was minimal and the sun came out for most of the day.
The plan was to meet at either Hill Top Cafe for breakfast for a 9:00 AM departure or at the trail head at 10:00 AM. Thinking on it, Jake and I figured with the roads as icy as they’ve been an hour to get from Hill Top to the trail head wasn’t enough, so we passed on the early breakfast and headed straight for the trail head. Left the house in North Pole at 8:00 and we were still late getting to the trail head, of course we did have to stop for gas and a breakfast bagel, but the road was slick and icy most of the way and slow driving.
The trail didn’t look to bad from the parking area but all the snow had a good crust on it. Everyone was ready to leave by 10:30 with one exception, Dean and company, so Jake and I waited for him and the other 9 sleds headed out. Dean and family showed up about 20 minutes later and after they got geared up we headed out, I was pushing it trying to catch up with the group and we ended up way ahead of Dean, fact is, it was the last time we saw Dean for the day.