Claiming land and Norman walks 3 hours in the dark to cabin

Iron traps

Common traps

Sunday, November 29, 1981—we flew into Old Boot Lake and got camp set up. We’re planning on staking and claiming some land in what the state has called Green Acres.

Friday, December 4, 1981—I got up early, had breakfast and gathered supplies, went to Tazlina and went to John’s place. Loaded the snowmobile and drove the machine back to Eleven-Mile Trail and then went 4 miles to the upper lake above Old Boot Lake. We have a tent camp there on Old Boot Lake. The snow was really deep and when I would come down the hills the snow would flow about six feet ahead of the machine. I’m going downhill that way and it flows out and along the sides. My heart in my throat, I’m hoping that I don’t get stuck. When I get there, Daryl and his dog, Rufus are doing okay. He had been flown in to the cabin site with this tent that is a military—army tent. It’s designed for winter camping.

Saturday, December 5, 1981—the days are really short, so we got what we would call a late start and it’s really cold. We got some compass bearings and paced off some land and shoreline. We did see over a hundred caribou yesterday, their tracks are all over. Saw two moose cows with calves and two fox track. When we get up on the higher places of these properties, there are some nice views.

Sunday, December 6, 1981—it was a nice day, but pretty cold. Cut firewood. We’ve got 720 feet of land boundary measured. We’ve got a hundred foot steel tape that we used. Then we took some time and looked at building sites. Building sites must be a hundred feet set back from the shoreline of the lake. Saw a few rabbit tracks and a place where ptarmigan or a spruce hen had dived in the snow to sleep—it’s pretty warm under the snow. We sure liked the nice views from around here. Darrel isn’t feeling very well.

Monday, December 7, 1981—I’m sick and what we picked up, we don’t know, but I snowmobile out—woke up sick in the night, didn’t get much sleep. Both the carburetor and steering froze up on the snow machine. Finally got it going. I had a big heavy screwdriver on the snow machine and a hatchet and I would hammer on that screwdriver handle and chip the ice out so I could get the steering so it would move. I got to Jan’s about noon. Then went home and later went to the land office in Glennallen, and then shopped for groceries. After that I went to Mike’s with a message from Henry.

Tuesday, December 8, 1981—I’m still sick.

Wednesday, December 9, 1981—I slept late. It’s a nice warm day but I don’t feel good this morning. I decide to go back in and I’m pulling the sled. Broke more trails and set six traps. Got a red fox thawed out, skinned and stretched him. He had two porcupine quills in him—so they meet porcupines and get a quill once in a while. Got things ready for the trip out, saw two moose, had a camp robber and a rabbit in the traps. An owl ate the rabbit. I made one fox set, caribou had been moving around.

Thursday, December 10, 1981—we do some more measuring on Old Boot and also across the middle lake and land dividing it from Upper Lake and another part of that lake. This is the area that Darrel has chosen. We’re expecting a plane so we snowmobiled an airstrip on the lake. Made four, square posts with the chain saw to mark our post corners with.

Friday, December 11, 1981—chipped the ice out of the steering on the snowmobile again this morning. Took two stakes with us to Darrel’s 40. Rufus has died. He had some kind of kidney problem and Darrel wanted Rufus over on his 40. We put in the stakes and chopped two lines and flagged them. Then we went to my 40 acres and staked and flagged one line and measured my lakeshore. It was getting close to dark so we get in stove wood for the night.

Saturday, December 12, 1981—we looked at what would make a building site and evaluated the lines of the sides of the 40 and then packed up to leave. Chris came in on our landing strip to fly Darrel out just before dark. I went out with the snowmobile pulling an empty sled. Then we celebrated at Nelchina.

Monday, December 14, 1981—we unpacked the Green Acres gear and packed to go out to the traplines.

Tuesday, December 15, 1981—I had a tough time getting in to the cabin. The trail was not good all the way to Blue Lake. I lost the trail entirely— deep snow. I knew where Blue Lake was and I was trying to get there and I came up over a small ridge. Just as I got to the top, there was no place to go but a bunch of alders. I got stuck in them and then the darned Ski-Doo wouldn’t start. I tried to cut some of the alders out from under the machine so I could get going but the machine just would NOT start. There was nothing to do. It was right at dark, so I started walking towards the cabin. It’s probably two miles to the cabin from where I’m stuck. The bunny boots sure got heavy! Soon it’s dark, but there were stars shining. They gave enough light so I could follow the trail—especially when you know it. When I get here, the cabin is in fine shape. I had wood split and ready to build fire. I get a fire going. It’s been dark for some time, walking on the trail. I got here three hours after dark. Saw a caribou, moose cow and a calf and three ptarmigans today.

Wednesday, December 16, 1981—I got up early, had breakfast, walked back to the snowmobile and got it un-stuck and off of the brush. It started then and I went back to the cabin and ran some of the trapline. Got a nice marten. Then I got lost from the trail and came out by the highway by way of Old Man Lake.

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