I had been trying to type a little every night for the first few nights so i just cut and pasted those notes.
(The quotations parts is Myra adding stuff)
Day One, traveled to the cabin.
We met with Dan Gabryszak at the Deshka Landing at 11:00. We had hired Dan to guide us out to our cabin. He has been on the river for 30 years and owns and operates the Yentna Station with his wife Jean. We had become very quick friends with them when we were here in the winter and have stayed in touch when we returned to Ohio.
The actual trip was 63 miles and took about 3 hours, driving time. We stopped at Dan and Jeans for lunch and met our new puppy on the way. We get to pick him up next week. The trip was un-eventful, but boy do I have a lot to learn about reading this river. It is very fast current, and so thick with silt you can see about 2 inches into it. The river is ash grey color. It is very hard to tell deep water from shallow water and there are thousands of places where the water is only a few inches deep.
We arrived at the shore of the cabin about 5:30. The first event was that I drove up to the bank parallel and Myra started to get out on shore to tie us up. She did the longest splits I have ever seen her do and she all but fell into the river. The whole event lasted over 30 seconds while I grabbed a tree and pulled, the boat pivoted the wrong way and split her farther and she leaned and grunted and OMG was it a time. She never did get wet, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. (Not sure how I didn’t end up in the river!!)
We unloaded our stuff out of Dan’s boat that he had hauled for us and he took off. The landing point is down about a 10 foot bank with a narrow walking trail. We have Generators, gas cans, water barrels, gas barrels, clothes, food, shovels, weed whacker and on and on, literally a ton of stuff on our boat and on shore. Our cabin is over ¼ mile up a trail, down a trail over the hills and thru the woods. Now Myra and I have to get it all to the cabin. We made our first trip just carrying our back packs and the cats. We sat at the cabin for just a few moments and headed back out to the boat for our next trip.
We got back to the cabin with trip #2, I don’t remember what we carried but it was heavy, so we sat down to take a break before the next trip. About 10 minutes into our break we heard a noise under the kitchen window. The cabin actually shook slightly. I got up and went to the window and there was a black bear scratching his back on the bottom of the cabin. Myra tried to get a picture but the bear heard us moving around and took off thru the woods. (What a start to this adventure!!!)
We made two or three more trips this night and called it quits. We had pop corn for supper and it was 12:30 am. It was a very long day. And it was still light out!
The day before we left for the cabin we had worked to get items out of our trailer that we thought essential for our first trip. We worked until midnight that night and did not get back to the motel until 1:00am. We were completely worn out tired, the end of our first day. We slept until 11:00 on day two. We were guessing it was about 8:00 when we woke up, but it is so hard to tell time by the outdoors light because it never gets totally dark right now.
After waking at 11:00 it was coffee and my first trip to the boat for more stuff. Myra started sorting the kitchen of all of the stuff that had been left from previous occupants. This place has every item in it that has been hauled in for the past 15 years ,I swear. (No doubt in my mind that no one ever removed anything! Just brought more!) When I got back we had an oatmeal breakfast and back to work.
Myra continued on the inside and I fired up the weed whacker. There has been no outside work done on the property in 4 years or more. The weeds are chest high in most areas and 10 mosquitoes live on each one of them. A walk to the boat and back is a real Alaska experience alright. I went thru 5 tanks of fuel and 2 spools of string cutting a path to the boat and I still have about 50 yards before I get to the boat with the weed whacker. I just wore out and could not hold that thing any longer.
I took a break and then got out the old fashion Sickle and cut a path to the Out House. I had tried to go to the Out House this morning and the weeds were so bad and the Mosquitoes were so bad I went into the Cabin and started what you call a Honey Bucket for the rest room. There was NO WAY I was going to bare my ass to those mosquitoes even if I could have gotten to the outhouse. The outhouse only has an “A” frame tin roof and no front or back wall, it is wide open. Once I got the path cut to the outhouse I discovered the floor is not very strong and I am going to have to replace it, if we don’t build a bathroom very soon in the cabin. (I vote for the bathroom!)
Myra spent the whole day working on the kitchen area and did not get very far thru it. Her knee is also pretty sore from all the trips we took yesterday over the very ruff very hilly trail. She fell 4 or 5 times yesterday. This is the reason that trail repair is first priority. We made one trip together today, to the boat to get more stuff. She did not fall today.
I should explain the trips to the boat. We brought a wheel barrow, we have back packs and we have a really big dry bag back pack. Each trip, we load the wheel barrow with as much as we can put in it and we pack the back packs. Depending on the weight in the wheel barrow I use the small pack or the big one. We have tied a strap to the wheel barrow and a big loop to go around my shoulders. Myra picks up on the handles of the barrow and I pull via the strap as I lean forward to walk. I am literally a pack mule. Anyhow, we have got three or four trips to go before we have this boat load into the cabin.
I think the next trip down river we will bring one of the ATV’s. That sure sounds better than this method, and I will have the trail prepared enough that an ATV can travel it. I will be cutting little trees, cutting stumps and fill holes this week, so the trail will be in good shape. It was only wide enough for a foot path when we got here, and I knew that from my fly in visit last week.
Time for bed, day two. It is a much shorter day and that’s ok after the last few days. It is only 9:30 now.
Nothing too exciting today, I worked on sorting out cabin inventory this morning. I must have found 75 pounds of nails spread thru various boxes. I found tools, a chain saw, bottle jacks, tire chains, live ammunition in many boxes and coffee jars for 38 special and 22 and 30-06. Stuff jammed everywhere. Myra continued on cabin work while I then went out and cut more weeds. I found the burning barrel in the yard about 20 yards from the cabin and we had no idea it was there. I couldn’t get my heart into cutting weeds today. Jeff and I went for a pretty long walk thru the woods over the hills down to the river and around the back of the cabin. I saw some pretty neat stuff, flowers, Burrell trees, a lot line marker, so after supper Myra and I went for a walk out back. We got just into the woods from the clearing where the cabin is following the same path Jeff and I had taken. There was a huge pile of bear scat right in one of my foot prints. About fifty yards farther into the woods there was another pile. Hmmm, wonder if someone is trying to tell us something? I’m thinking so. Guess I will carry that 44 with me when I go for a walk.
Anyhow, that is all of the excitement for the day. More work tomorrow.
(Note to Self) We can haul a lot of stuff on the boat and it is a lot of work to haul it to the cabin. If you ever do this again, bring the tools to do the trail and the ATV ONLY on the first trip. One of the tools is the guns however, so don’t forget them. The rest of the stuff can wait until the second trip. Yep that is definitely a good idea.
Day 4 Living has begun, sort of.
Myra re-arranged the entire inside of the cabin except move the kitchen today. She made her plan on how to rebuild the kitchen though. The inside of the cabin looks very nice what she did but, the first time I sat in my chair I hit my head on the window sill. A little re-arrange to happen there.
I hooked up the small generator and charged the battery in the cabin. There is a small stereo here and it actually gets a few channels. We found a light rock station that comes in and it is a pretty good station. I never would have guessed we could get radio out here. We are 80 air miles from Anchorage and we are getting Anchorage stations.
I also finished the trail to the boat today. I did the rest of the weed whacking (on the trail) then went thru and dug off the sharp high bumps, cut down the trees I had to, and filled in holes where needed. It is wide enough and smooth enough (sort of) to take an ATV the whole way now. We will bring one on the next trip to town. While working on the trail, at one point I had to return to the cabin for gas or string or something, I don’t remember what. Anyhow, when I got back out to the place I had been working, a large crunch of branches and a few other moving noises going away from me. I don’t know if it was a moose or a bear but something was in the area. I was on edge most of the rest of the day.
I think the plan now is to go to Skwentna Monday for a PO Box and into town on Wednesday (this is Sunday) and come back Friday evening. We have enough stuff to do in town that it will take two days to get everything done.
Day Five: Trying to develop a routine
I got up at 6:30 this morning with the intent of getting the day going earlier and finishing work before 10:00pm. Well, I got started earlier but I still did not finish until 9:00. It is really hard to have a concept of time when the daylight does not change.
Today I made a few more trips to the boat by myself and finished bringing things up, all but one tote that Myra helped me with this afternoon. I learned to strap the wheel barrow a little different and pull it backwards while I pick up the handles and pull it with my chest and the strap. I took 18 gallons of gas and a 20’x40’ tarp in one trip which is about 175#s total. I won’t do that again. After that trip I told Myra if she ever gets hurt the only way she is getting out is on a tether and being drug because I now know my limit. Today she is over it. (Dang the truth sucks sometimes. Working on it though!)
I also got one side of the cabin yard cleaned up for about 10 feet away from the cabin. It took 6 wheel barrows full of debris to haul the cuttings, leaves, wood and junk away from that area. Myra ran the weed whacker a while and chopped down some more yard area. We have enough of that to do to last the summer I think.
We also took the boat to the post office today and got a post office box. Our official mailing address is.
Roger & Myra Phillips, PO Box 68 Skwentna, Alaska 99667
The post office is just under 10 miles from the cabin, up river – in the snow barefoot, both directions. It was an interesting drive. This river is very hard to read and we did not have a guide and have never gone there before. We will get more accustomed to it I am sure.
Myra also continued sorting thru the left over stuff inside the cabin. A small library of books, weird ones at that, also the last of the dishes and other items. I think she has been thru all of it now.
I dug around under the cabin and found that we have a little work to do underneath and I think we are going to pick the cabin up a ways and put it on taller pilings, maybe even 3 feet higher than it is now. Then we are going to lower one of the windows in the living area so we can see out while setting. We can’t just lower the window because there is already bear claw marks in the screen where one stood up and looked in some time. To just lower the window would be an invitation for trouble, and jacking up the cabin does not look to be very difficult the way it is built. This will also give us storage underneath the cabin if we skirt it after we pick it up. Storage good, bears looking in window not so good!
Day 6: The routine is shot.
Slept in until 10:00 today, so much for starting a routine yesterday. It is now 9:13pm as I type this. It is a cool rainy day all day today. The only thing that is routine is that we have oatmeal everyday for breakfast. (Be careful what you ask for you just might get it!)
With the weather outside we found a lot to do inside today. We moved all of the extra construction wood that was upstairs. There is 10 sheets of OSB and about 90ea. ½”x6” interior finish boards. Then we took apart the railings etc and took down the stairs and turned them 90 deg. and toward the wall. That really opened up the down stairs. We then re-installed the hand rails a little different.
We HAD to re-install the hand rails because they were one of the main features I liked about the cabin. I told several of you the railings were the reason I wanted to buy this particular cabin.
This day is pretty well taken up.
Tomorrow is a trip to town. We just called Dan and Jean and let them know we were heading down river by 9:00am. We are going to try to get everything done between tomorrow afternoon and Thursday in town and come back Thursday evening. This can save $125 is hotel fee’s if we don’t have to stay in town 2 nights. Saving money is good that way we can do more on the cabin. (And also feed the new puppy as he grows. He is six weeks old today and will be coming home with us this week when we come back from town right Roger. His name is Hans Solo (star wars) and he is really cute, with gorgeous blue eyes.)
This is all of my cut and paste. I have been so busy i quit writting daily. It was seeming futile, with not having the internet. Now I wish I had continued. I will read Myra's stuff and add to it and try to fill in some orher highlights.
Thanks for reading Ya all