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Another Alaska Cabin, 4th weekend

Posted by on October 6, 2014

I figured I’d make another trip, my fourth, up to the cabin site to help some more with the building. This was going to be a big push weekend as Dean had gotten a few more hands to help, a couple of good carpenters. I left town early with the plan to beat the snow fall that was suppose too fall in Fairbanks and the Alaska Range. The Alaska Range is south, so no worries, right…

The Steese site is more in the Central weather area as far as weather reports. The news was saying a bit of snow in town and nothing out of the Central area, at least that’s what it said before I left. So the drive up was pretty easy and relaxing and I got to wait a bit for the others to show up. They and I were going to stay in one of the enclosed trailers with a heater. Since I wasn’t familiar with the heater I just hung out at the summit and started to read a good book. After they showed up we all packed our gear in the trailer and got the heater going.

Saturday morning we got up with the plan to get all four walls up and maybe the flooring for the loft. Ha, as all good plans go this one went downhill. Dean showed up at 9:00 AM and as we got the machines loaded one of the four wheelers wouldn’t start. So we rode one of the two snow machines brought along as back up, and a good thing he did too. Anyway, we finally got to the cabin site around noon, so we lost half a day of work time.

The extra help did kick butt and get 3 of the walls up by the time we quit for the day and then the three of us rode back to the trailer, our home for the weekend. The wind pick up some more during the day and the drifts got deeper. So I asked to use one of his sleds and left my 4 wheeler on my trailer for Sunday. Sunday morning was just dandy, more winds, more snow, and bigger drifts. It seems the weather report was a bit off and a nice snow storm hit us..

The cabin site wasn’t too bad and we spent the day getting the fourth wall up, the loft floor decked and the piling and frame work for the porch deck done. My plan was to leave at around 3:00 PM and head out so I could be back in town by 6:00 PM as I told my wonderful bride I’d be home for dinner. Hahaha.

Well another good plan gone to the dogs. I did leave close to the time I was planning on leaving, around 3:30, but as I looked up the valley I got this feeling that it was going to be an interesting ride out all by myself on the borrowed sled. About a mile from the cabin you climb a little hill and as soon as I did the wind about knocked me over and visibility dropped down to 200 feet and it only got worst. So I just stayed on the throttle and followed the trail, what I could see of a trail, as best as I could. At the top of the pass along the trail all I could do was hope I wasn’t driving over the side the of the mountain and felt a bit better when I saw a cabin to the east that gave me hope I was still on the trail or at least close to it. When I was what I figured was a mile from the parking lot I stopped, looked around and said to myself “just where in the H am I” I knew I was close to the gravel pit and small hill I had to get over to get to the parking area, I just couldn’t see them. So I did a side step to the east and low and behold I was in the gravel pit and knew the road would take me the ¾ mile to the parking area the rigs were in.

Problem, the road from the gravel pit was windblown with 4 to 6 foot drifts, a 30 mile an hour head wind and snowing like all get out. My goggles had iced over so I took them off. The wind and snow was too strong for me to look into and I ended up going from brown spot to brown spot. I’d lift my head for about 5 seconds, look for the next brown spot (brown spots being parts of the dirt road that the snow was blown off of) duck my head back down and throttle for the spot I’d just caught a glimpse of. This work good for about a ¼ mile when I was heading for the next spot I fell into a 4 foot hole between two drifts that I didn’t see in time to get a round. Oh joy.

After trying to lift the sled up and since I didn’t have my pack on me, thus no shovel to dig with, I walked the remaining ½ mile to the trucks. Walking into the wind when it’s blowing 30 miles an hour and pelting you with icy snow crystals are not on the top of my list for fun things to do. I was wondering how a good strong kite might do though.

Well I got back to the trucks at 5:30, it only took me 2 hours to get 6.5 miles, not fast but I made it and that’s what counts. I then waited for a couple others to come on out and help me get the sled unstuck and head home. They finally showed up close to 10:30 PM. From all I heard they had about as much fun as I did plowing through the snow drifts and winching the ATV’s through that got stuck.

We all decided to load up the rigs and head to town, a day early for most of the others. Of course by this time the winds were howling and the snow kept getting deeper and I wasn’t all that sure about the road conditions. Dean did a test drive and said that the road was passable and oh John, you get to lead.

I usually like making first track, but this is one time when I would of gladly have let others do it. We made a slow but steady drive back to town and I got home at 4:00 AM.

As of now I do plan to go back and help them finish up the cabin, but I guarantee you I will be riding one of my sleds, most likely the Bearcat with all my survival gear and a shovel.

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