Ever since this website went online I’ve made mention of the cabin, in the past five years I’ve been busy as time and resources have allowed to make the place a little nicer. The building went up in the late 1990′s and I have been working since 2006 on it. The logs came from spruce that were cut from the 33 acre lot and it was my wife (before we met) who skinned the bark from them and hired help to stack the walls. My job has been to get a solid roof – insulate – install windows – build steps and otherwise finish the place.
A large part of why it takes a decade to get things done is due to the fact that the place is 75 miles off road. I don’t have a float plane so it’s 75 miles of grueling snowmachine travel or a very long boat ride just to get there. I’ve hauled loads of materials via jet boat and also hired barges and freighters to bring things out there.
Winter is the time to move heavy loads and four winters ago I finally had a man build me a freight sled. That’s what this article is about, freighting to the cabin during winter. Since I have the big sled there is no need to hire a barge during spring. The going rate for Bush transport is .32 / pound and believe me that adds up quickly. A 55 gallon drum of gasoline weighs 385 pounds and I need 300 gallons out there every year by spring to fuel the boat all summer and run snowmachines all winter. Add to the fuel transport fees all the lumber and assorted things needed to move a project along and it’s easy to see why I got myself a sled.
Lets get right to that, the sled. These are custom builds and each sled man has their pet design. I wanted one like legendary freight man Larry Heater used for years delivering things to me. Larry is now in his eighties and no longer running freight. His looming retirement was what prompted me to get my own and as they say cover my ass when it comes to freight. It isn’t something to take lightly, hauling a 2000 pound load over 75 miles of desolate frozen rivers and lastly crossing the 6 mile wide Big Swamp to get to the lake. Each trip cam end easily or there may be problems. Problems would include getting the sled stuck in deep snow, this is bad because you usually need to unload in order to get free. Those barrels can wear a fellow out and if it’s a load of railroad ties things aren’t much better.
Anyway, the sled; these things are built with 6 foot skis made from UHMW plastic. The ski itself is mounted on a type of armature which in turn mounts to an axle. Each ski can rotate on the axle independent of the ski opposite of it on that axle. They are constantly flexing and allow for a very smooth ride for whatever is on the sled. The long base between axles also allows for the sled to cross through some serious mogul fields caused by drifting snow.
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The front skis and the trailer tongue swivel to accommodate turning without a lot of resistance.
The way they are constructed is based on a design which came from Finland and it was Larry who had 2 of the Finnish sleds that were copied into the local market. They are incredible tools.
Here are a couple loads where I also was intending to stay out there for a while, note the dog crate. Boss travels back and forth whenever it is not a freight only run, on freight only runs I take the Mother Load which would be 3 or 4 barrels.
Sometimes I am joined by other freight runners or I join them, safety in numbers you know.
So what do I use to pull those loads? A Skidoo Skandic with a 600 cc E-Tech fuel injected engine and turning a 156 inch X 24″ wide track. The wide track provides the grip and the width of it keeps the machine on top of the snow. They are like a tank.
For light loads and general transpport to and from we have a Skidoo Tundra long track. These have a 550cc engine and an even longer track than the Skandic. The Tundra is the ultimate machine to go right out through the woods in 4 feet of snow, they too are amazing at staying on top of it.
What happens to all that stuff I haul out there? Some turns into boat docks while others turn into interior upgrades. The place needs to be pressure washed and re-coated every 2 years also and I just finished re-chinking the exterior in summer of 2016. It’s a job out there believe me but I relish those rare days when I just sit and listen to the sound fo silence.
Here are some photos of recent projects, loads of sanded thin plywood, 2X6 lumber and 4×4′s all put into the place.
The layout of the building is 24X24 inside but the second floor was only 24X16 because it has a loft with a stair. This left a wide open area between the two large windows in the front gable and the floor. I decided to build a bridge 8 foot long X 12 foot wide to utilize the space. Working with log construction is a challenge but I succeed and this is what the second floor looks like today.
The ceiling is insulated and then covered with 366 3.5″ X random length firing boards. I did that back when I was still using a hand miter box and hammer & nails. Since then I graduated to a nail gun and power saws. It took a long time to do the ceiling and then sheet the walls of the gables. The end result came out nice considering what I had a few years back and I’ll haul carpeting out for the second floor this winter.
Downstairs I have things wired and finally a ceiling there also. I built a small storage room in the back corner where there is a little of everything.
Once I had some headway inside I went to adding a new dock section. I built it up where the land is level but quickly realized it woulld be too heavy to transport when complete. So, I utilized 2 small freight sleds and a Suzuki King Quad and after framing things and securing the corners I skidded the whole thing down to the lake.
With all the planks pre-cut and the frame at waterside all I had left was driving nails and fixing flotation to the underside.
Under the supervision of Boss I finished the addition and got it anchored.
Every bit of work done out there as well as all my fishing is watched over by Boss and he approved of the addition to the dock.
Summer of 2016 saw the dock and re-chinking of the exterior and that wrapped up the year.
I use a pressure washer to clean loose finish and grime from the logs every few years. Things are always looking bad after a cleaning and this year I stripped the old chinking and redid the whole place, what a job!
Just three more sides to go including the high work and you’ll be done. It was a good time to reseal things because winter came on with plenty of -20 degree temps and quite a lot of snow for 2017.
I have to get up and shovel the roof every year because the ice and snow load are right over the stairs. I did it just a few weeks back when I stayed out there for a month. That was beautiful, after clearing that land of roughly 75 large trees which I cut and split for firewood every year I was able to hang out and burn some. No major projects except trying to make headway on a writing I’ve been at for years.
Now you’ve seen some of what life is like for me, I don’t just take as many people fishing as I can trying to make money. If I did that I’d have to spend every penny I made hiring someone to do all my work. There’s a home in Wasilla that constantly needs my skills and energy aslo and nancy is always working up a list for me there.
Many people have said to me, “I dream of having a cabin someday, it must be so cool”. I guess it is but be careful what you wish for because they are like a second job, beautiful yes but always in need of attention too.
I’m considering buying a second boat and setting it up specifically for Pike fishing. I’d like to just leave a boat there all the time and have it ready for people who may want to spend some time in a quiet place chasing Pike.
Not all the Pike are small like the one on my home page here. Many can be found in the 36″ class like the one below with 24 – 30 quite common. I’ve (of course) lost a couple monsters, one just last summer right off that boat dock! Fish & Game netted a 24 pound 46 inch right in front of the cabin 3 years ago, they are there but it’s a big lake.
I hope this was entertaining and gave a glimpse into where I am if I don’t answer an e-mail promptly.
I know that this isn’t a forum where you can post a question and receive answers from a multitude of sources but I thought I’d try this anyway.
Whatever you may be wondering about various species – salmon run timing – probable weather conditions – tackle, whatever, post them as a comment and I will attempt to answer you.
Although I am located in South Central AK. I have some experience in other parts of the state so I may be able to point you toward your best chance to get the best Alaskan fishing experience possible.
Here in the Greater Mat-Su Valley we have adequate snow for the first winter in 3 years. What that can mean is an open question. If we have a cool spring this means that water levels will be sustained well into the season as the runoff will come gradually. If we have warm weather by late May early June this can mean that we will see high, colored and challenging fishing conditions during the King Salmon run which occurs mid May through June. Aside from runoff considerations the balance of the year and our water levels will be dependent on rainfall like many other parts of the country.
In the years since I took up residence here I’ve seen the best and worst of fishing conditions. The Best would include medium flows with clear water and if you are fortunate to have this the fishing is generally great. The worst, at least the worst I’ve seen while doing the fish guide thing was just last season. My first two pairs of fishermen had good conditions and between them they caught several hundred salmon. One fellow managed 4 species catching everything except a sockeye. We also caught a few nice trout during those two weeks. The worst came as two more fishers came to the same came only things had changed. It had been raining steadily for 4 days in advance of their arrival and continued to rain hard for the next 26 days.
The water was high and pretty colored; although we were consistently fishing in – over and through thousands of Silver & Chum salmon there were very few fish caught. During that period (5 days) I tried every trick I’ve learned to entice salmon onto hooks while attempting to crack the code for my two guests but alas these efforts failed. With that in the back of my mind I would encourage folks to ask as many questions as they can think of prior to heading to AK. for salmon because when it’s good it can be off the charts good but when it’s bad, well you gotta love fishing because that’s what may be left.
I’m headed off on Monday March 6th to haul a load of fuel to the cabin. If any replies / comments come in whille I’m away I’ll be answering as soon as I return.