For months I’ve been talking about spending the summer at the cabin so that I could push the building process along at a much faster rate. And here I am, updating my website from the comfort of my four walls with no roof. How am I updating my site you might ask. Well, a summer-long excursion required some extra equipment and logistics so that I could continue to work and make money, while building and improving the grounds. With me is a slew of personal items, kitchen and food stuffs, a few non-essentials that will be better used once the cabin is complete, and a power system to support my laptop and communication needs. There’s a 12v deep cycle batter, hefty battery charger, a power inverter capable of 1500 watts of continuous output (I won’t even come close), my cell phone with antenna, power strip, and the laptop and external hard drive. Sure, getting away from technology and simplifying things is a great aspect to owning a frontier cabin, but under the circumstances, and in order to purchase more nails and lumber, my electronic devices are a must. Fortunately I can work from “home.” I expect my web designing and writing will not suffer a bit. I may even be more productive. After all, the days are long during an Alaskan summer.

So, as I sit here getting warmed up to tackle a client’s web needs, the morning sun it warming up my blood and I’ve already had a filling breakfast. Thank the Lord for dried milk for my cereal and instant coffee! Okay, maybe it wasn’t such a hardy breakfast, but I’ll make due.

That said, the foods I brought out are as follows:

  • Dried milk
  • Cereal
  • Flour with baking powder and butter
  • Salt and sugar
  • Organic canned soups
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Home jarred pickles, salsa and sour kraut thanks to Jean Boga, my former landlord/housemate
  • Large bag of protein shake
  • Mixed nuts
  • Two jars of different types of olives (I’m a big fan!)
  • Two large bottles of V8
  • Large back of tortilla chips and salsa
  • Block of Dubliner cheese (no pepper jack this trip)
  • Oatmeal (plain and flavored packets)
  • Honey, lemon, seasonings

I’m hoping to catch some fish for dinner often. I also brought out a grill and smoker. To be expected, the smoker MIGHT have already drawn in a brown bear. More on that in a moment.

So, Friday evening on June 18 I parked my truck with a trailer full of lumber and a the bed full of supplies and the ATV. I used the southern parking lot to the “subdivision.” I’ve been using the northern lot, but during my last trip a neighbor encouraged I take a different route that was better. It was getting late so I decided to pack the ATV and get some rest. Before finishing I met another property owner, a friendly guy named Shane Larson who was heading out to his cabin with a girlfriend. He insisted I stop by his cabin the next day when passing. After they left I retired to the truck, tinkering around with my phone and antenna to test things out before falling asleep.

The next morning I was on my way. The trail in from that lot is quite nice, much more scenic with a far longer stretch of gravel and solid ground. I in fact went all the way to the cabin in about an hour. There were a few tricky spots closer to the cabin, but I never got stuck once. At the cabin I unloaded the ATV, a cooler of food, a container of gear, the chainsaw and a few other items, and inspected the cabin. A bear had been inside again. I’m lucky it didn’t do any damage to my tent. There were many items inside that water might have destroyed had a bear torn in and left the tent open to the rain.

Eventually I went to Mike Berg’s log cabin on the other side of Trapper Creek to pick up his trailer. He had offered it up for use the previous fall. I brought it back this direction and to my neighbor on the far side of me. I wasn’t sure I had taken the trail he had told me about, so I decided to take his route from his location and back-track it. He was at his cabin, so we chatted for a bit and he assured me it was the correct route. At that point I was unsure if it was a good route to haul in large loads, but while heading back to the truck I decided to make a go of it. I knew the worst that would happen was that I’d have to unload the trailer to move past a tough spot in the trail, then reload and be on my way.

Back at the truck I first made a run to Trapper Creek Inn for gas. I then loaded up the trail with almost all my remaining gear to include the smoker, Sonotubes for supporting two new posts under the cabin, the electronics, etc. It was so tightly packed that I never lost a single item on the trail, and I also made it back to the cabin again with no trouble at all. On the way I also stopped at Shane’s place, had a beer and talked for a while on his porch. His cabin is rustic with vertical, rough spruce boards with bark still on them. It also sits a few hundred feet away from a lake. While sitting there some rain started in, just small sprinkles that stopped before I departed. They didn’t pick back up again until I had completed my journey.

Once at at the cabin I unloaded the gear and took to making a small roof over one corner and a table. This would come in handy as a place to work and store supplies and the sensitive electronics. Just as a finished it began to rain, and while sitting at the table I setup my battery and inverter and used the two to charge my phone and my portable power tool batteries. When finished I placed a call to Dee and talked beneath the comfort of my small roof.

I nailed the tent out taught to keep rain from pooling up and leaking in, and slept comfortable on the air mattress I had brought during the trip before. I and awoke to more sprinkles on Sunday. By the time I got out of the tent, however, the rain had stopped. After breakfast I placed the generator away from the cabin and ran and extension cord. In the cabin I setup the battery charger installed a power strip. With the generator and charger I proceeded to charge my deep cycle battery. The charger read that the battery was at 85% capacity after use the day before. It charged back to 100% quickly. While that was going on I boarded up my front door. I had taken far to much chance with bear climbing in already, and now I had food and valuable items to protect. When finished, I set off to haul in lumber. Close to the cabin my progress was hindered by sandhill cranes that continuously landed on the trail ahead of me.

At the parking lot again I saw Shane who opted to take in some concrete to where I would be staging lumber. My plan was to haul in a large load a little over half way on the hard trail, then take small loads from there. It would cut my time and trips way back. Shane helped me load, but we overdid it a little. A ways up the trial I was forced to leave behind four long boards that I planned to reinforce my floor with. After that I made the rest of the journey to the staging area. I returned for the boards and also picked up my grill and some other wood at the truck. On the return I followed a path Shane had told me about that cruised straight to my staging area along some marsh areas and bypassed all the bumpy roots on the hard trail. The rough riding on that stuff was getting annoying, not to mention hard on the ATV, so I took the new route and it worked beautifully. The long boards still gave me trouble, but eventually I made it.

At the staging area I put together what I thought was one small and manageable load and headed off. Of course, typing this out it all sounds so quick. In reality everything is taking an hour. The day was winding on and I had put the ATV through some hell. I even managed to foul the spark plug up, the first time I’ve ever had mechanical trouble with that machine. Hauling heavy loads was taking it’s toll, and I had been running at high RPMs in low gear all day.

With this new “smaller” load I continued on. I crossed a swamp area with ease. At a bridge over Trapper creek I took a break to fish and caught nothing. I put the rod on the side of the ATV and kept on, heading straight for the one place I was worried about. Five or six tries it took to climb the steep bank on the other side of Trapper Creek, constantly getting hung up on roots and climbing too steep to get traction. When I’d back up, the trailer would pull me and nearly jack-knife. I was also revving the engine far, far too high and it was getting hot. Finally I was able to back up straight enough and far enough to make a faster approach. The ATV bucked like a bronco, swaying side to side the and bouncing as I revved hard in low gear. I managed to jump the roots that had given me trouble, and in a near frightful event I  had reached the top. My fishing rode was snapped in half. My Rubbermaid container on the back of the ATV was smashed in from the lumber on the trailer having hit during the commotion and from earlier parts of the trail, but all was well enough and I continued on the cabin with minor hassle.

Last night I unloaded, tested the laptop  to find it had not suffered any damage from the trip in, and then ate dinner. Later, while checking email, and then about 1 a.m., when all was still and quite, I heard sticks snapping outside the cabin, just outside the wall I was sitting next to. As I approached a window, I startled a brown bear who turned up to look at me, made eye contact, and then darted off to the side a few steps. The mid-summer light provided perfect visibility for the two of us to watch each other. At a fallen tree the grizzly jumped up, then stopped again to look at me. The eye contact was intense, and I could hardly look away. Had the bear been Madusa, I would have surely been turned to stone. But, realizing the bear might decide to stick around or worse, and still only twenty feet away, I went for my bear spray and camera. When I returned to the window it was off in the brush. I could hear it move along down into the lower grounds off from my front door. Thinking back, the whole event was exciting, but not scary. Had my cabin been built at ground level, it might have been a different story.

A little after 2 a.m. I went to bed, still with light in the sky. Now, Monday morning, I’ve got a beautifully sunny day ahead of me, some design work to do, and small yet manageable loads of lumber to haul in from my staging area which is only about thirty minutes away. I also need a bath and shall test my solar shower, a black vinyl bag with hose and shower head that gets hot in the sun.

Just a note, since I’ll be out here for so long, and doing so much, I’ll be breaking my trip posts into sections, covering a few days each or major events. I’ll be out here all summer, but I will be making trips into Anchorage and other locations on occasion, at which time I’ll upload larger video files and media. My upload speed out here is suffering!