Siwash camping and wolves hunt past trap cabin

a small slab log cabin

Norman’s trapper cabin

Sunday, November 14, 1982—up before dawn and went to Jay’s. Parked truck. Had trouble with Blake’s snowmobile, It got stuck several times. It was dark at Blue Lake, couldn’t find trail to cabin. Siwash camped at Blue Lake, nice night for it. (Siwash is an Alaskan term meaning Indian and “siwashing” is to camp the way the Indians do—with nothing but rifle, fry pan, tea pail, salt, tea, and a little sourdough. Siwashing releases you from the necessity of returning to any fixed campsite. )

Monday, November 15, 1982—broke trail to cabin, then back to Blue Lake and pulled sleds to cabin. Cut a trail to cabin and broke a trail to woodlot. Had a nice evening at cabin, a very nice day.

Tuesday, November 16, 1982—up before dawn, went to woodlot and brought in five loads. Cleaned up cabin, loaded sled and headed out. Saw lots of wolf tracks, mink fox and marten tracks, some moose and caribou tracks. Got home early in the evening.

Tuesday, November 23 1982—very warm, light snow in the evening, 23° to 10°. Made fox, lynx, and marten sets. Must’ve been a whole family of lynx near here. Ski-Doo runs badly, Chris and Lloyd flew in for coffee, glad to see them.

Saturday, November 27, 1982—sun shines, 10° to -10°. I feel sick today. Had a good trip out here, Ski-Doo ran fine. Very beautiful here at the trap cabin, nothing in the traps. Pack of wolves hunted past the cabin. Cut up stove wood. Almost a full moon tonight.

Sunday, November 28, 1982—ice fog and 15° to 10°. Sore back. Ran some trapline, nothing. Put out two snares and one Marten set. Broke trail in woodlot. Cut up wood and ricked it. Put up fleshing beam in cabin. Beautiful moon tonight.

Monday, November 29, 1982—made wolf, marten, and fox sets today. Reached road early and visited Darrel a few minutes. Saw seven caribou along the road. Ran line here, nothing. Called Beverly.

Goose hunting

woman butchering a caribou outdoors on a log

Sylvia cutting up a caribou

Thursday, October 7, 1982—it’s 18° and snowing this morning. Lots of geese flying east in the valley today. This is their fall migration. They fly mostly down to California, but some stop at different places along the way. Ray from Gunsight wanted the Cat again, but the pony motor carburetor is plugged. Then the carburetor on the chainsaw quit. I did get 1-1/3rd pickup loads of wood. It was a fairly nice day.

Friday, October 8, 1982—went to Gunsight to hunt geese. The lake froze over during the night. Darrel and I went to Delta to goose hunt. Saw two herds of buffalo on a farm. We set out decoys wondering if the buffalo might tromp them or have fun with them but that didn’t happen. The geese had all left on the migration. We only saw one crane.

Saturday, October 9, 1982—no geese, none flying. Some hunters killed a buffalo on the farm as they were hunting geese. I bought some grain for Hoffman’s goats and straw for my dogs for bedding this winter. I’m having trouble getting the saw fixed. Saw a wolverine and several fox today. It was storming part of the way home. Didn’t get home until after 11:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 20, 1982—was a nice day, high 20’s, near 0° tonight. Cut up and packaged the caribou that Dan and Patti gave us. Cut up the buffalo liver (I found this liver out in a field up in Delta on the farm—it had been discarded by someone). I’ll use the buffalo liver for bait this winter. Visited Bob and Margaret Schmidt and had supper there.

Hunting sandhill cranes at Delta

sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

Friday, September 24, 1982—got gear ready by early afternoon to go to Delta to hunt Sandhill Cranes and hopefully some geese. Drove up to Glennallen and stayed at Darrel’s in the evening. I’m tired tonight, brought Mike, our dog along.

Saturday, September 25, 1982—Charlie, Darrel and I cleaned a bunch of salmon and split them for drying. Darrel and I drove to Delta to hunt on Barney and Scott Hollemback’s farm—camped in my tent.

Sunday, September 26, 1982—got up early, we’re up at Delta hunting Sandhill Cranes. Scott, the farmer, is hunting with us. The cranes were really flying high today. I only shot one and hit another one hard with bb shot. Scott got one. We had a good time here today hunting, lots of fun.

Monday, September 27, 1982—up early. One flock of cranes flew almost in range. Then later we tried to stalk some but that didn’t work. They spotted us and flew. I bought some hay from Scott and Barney for Hoffman’s goats and left Delta early afternoon. Got home at 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 28, 1982—dropped six bales of hay off at Hoffman’s place, visited Dan and Patti, Blake and Jackie a few minutes. Built a lean-to on brown trailer. Put away lots of things for winter to make things neater and look better around the cabin. It’s cloudy, cool and a little snow and was 20° this morning.

Wednesday, September 29, 1982—snowed all day, warm. Sharpened some knife blades. Loaded a wrecker and pump truck on a lowboy trailer for some people. Winched this equipment on the trailer with the swamp buggy.

Two moose hooked horns while fighting and died

several moose from the air

Looking down on several moose from the air

Saturday, September 11, 1982—finished the buggy, got gear ready and drove Allen’s trapline trail. Had some troubles on the way in, but got camp set up before dark. Dan flew over, it was a nice day.

Sunday, September 12, 1982—mostly a nice day, a little rain and wind. Tramped all around, saw some ducks and two moose that had hooked their horns while fighting and died together. Found a weather balloon, rain and windy tonight.

Monday, September 13, 1982—Ken and Danny are out here hunting too, with me. Hunted farther out. Ken jumped a caribou. Dan flew over.

Tuesday, September 14, 1982—frosty morning, left camp early, went farther east. Saw nine ducks, a brown thrasher, camp robber, ravens and beaver and bear sign and more moose sign, one trophy caribou and two real nice ones. Nothing that I could get to shoot. Dan flew over and it rained this evening.

Wednesday, September 15, 1982—we hunted even farther from camp. Saw some ducks and a cow moose and one caribou. Very windy. It blew so hard that Danny’s tent blew away, maybe 400 yards from where we were camped. It was one of those tents that would roll if it isn’t fastened down right and it just rolled and rolled and rolled until it finally got hung up. The tent that I had, shook, but the wind didn’t phase it a bit. Rained in the night.

Thursday, September 16, 1982—wet morning not so windy, Dan flew over again. Went hunting till noon, saw some bear tracks. Left at noon, saw two cow moose on the way out, got stuck and had to winch out of a mud hole. Sunny day.

Friday, September 17, 1982—slept a little late, got started on the storage shed at 10:00 a.m. And had quite a bit of it done by 6:00 p.m. Ate supper and visited Hoffmans. It was really sunny today, 30° in the morning and cloudy tonight. I feel sick tonight.

Saturday, September 18, 1982—worked on the storage shed and hunted a little on the Slide Mountain. Bob Schmidt had some hinges and gave them to me for the door on the storage shed. It was a nice day; visited Dan, Denny, and Charlie T. were all there too.

Sunday, September 19, 1982—worked on the storage shed. Bob and I drove Lake Louise Road, hunting. Then later, Dan and I flew out to John Lake and we slept in his Cessna 185 overnight so we would be legal to hunt in the morning. (It is illegal to hunt the same day airborne.)

Monday, September 20, 1982—up very early, it was a pretty nice day. Stalked a bull moose in a large bunch of cows. We didn’t get to see them, we could hear them and the cows didn’t pay too much attention to us, but we just never got to see them. Saw four bull caribou, saw nearly a hundred moose on the ground when we got in the plane and took off to leave, Dan circled the area—that’s when we saw so many moose. There were about 50 in one bunch and about that many in the other bunch and they were about a mile apart. Salvaged lumber later at Dan’s.

Tuesday, September 21, 1982—I have almost all the shelves installed in the storage shed now and started moving things into it. Sylvia went to Glennallen with Bob and Margaret. Blake and Danny stopped by. Later, Henry came home from work and took us out to supper.

Wednesday, September 22, 1982—frosty morning, fine day—fantastic northern lights at night. Moved a lot of gear into the new shed.


Clam digging excursion cut short by medical emergency

full moon over trees

Norman loves the night sky, stars, Northern Lights, and the moon.

Wednesday, August 18, 1982—hurried around all morning getting ready to go to Anchorage and Homer later. We plan to go clam digging and silver fishing and Halibut fishing. Had a flat tire on the way to town. Stayed at Andy’s and Bob’s camper. It was a nice day.

Thursday, August 19, 1982—did business and shopping around town. Bought new tires for the pickup. Met Clarence W. and his wife in the afternoon. Nice day, went to Birdie’s at mile 142.5, which is south of Ninilchek—got there at 10:00 p.m.

Friday, August 20, 1982—up early to catch the tide. Birdie went with us to dig clams at mile 144. I dug eight big clams and we had a big clam feed—others got clams too. We tried for silvers at Ninilchek but didn’t have any luck. It was very nice weather, went looking for fossils too.

Saturday, August 21, 1982—got some clams far down on the Ninilchek beach. Jeff and Birdie were there, Bob and Kahren Rudbeck fished. I’m passing blood in my urine—I got real sick and went to the Soldotna hospital. Then I got even more sick at Homer and went to the hospital there.

Sunday, August 22, 1982—still very sick and in intensive care at the Homer Hospital. I had lost a lot of blood. I got several blood transfusions and so forth that goes with this.

Monday, August 23, 1982—still very sick. Doctor Sayer looked in my stomach. He sees where the blood is coming from. He recommends no more alcohol for me. I took his advice. (As of August 2008, it has been 26 years since I last took a drink.)

Tuesday, August 24, 1982—got out of the hospital at noon and went to Anchorage and stayed at Andy’s and Connie’s.

Wednesday, August 25, 1982—shopped all day in Anchorage, got some new tires on the truck, I like them. Got home at 10:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 26, 1982—went to visit the Hoffmans and also visited Sandy Farmer. It’s a nice day and I rested a lot.

Friday, August 27, 1982—took some garbage to the dump near KROA and then went to Billman’s and worked on the swamp buggy. It’s been a nice day, but a little cool. Had a bad setback with my stomach.

Sunday, August 29, 1982—woke up early, pretty sick. Tom and Lisa and everyone else convinced me to go to Anchorage to get checked out. Darrel took the swamp buggy to pull phone poles out at Gunsight. Stopped to see how they were doing. It was raining in Palmer when I got there. Saw the doctor and stayed overnight with Andy.

Monday, August 30, 1982—rained all day, shopped all day. Went to hospital at 4:00 p.m. Test was okay, got home at 8:30 p.m. and fed Tom’s dog.

Wednesday, September 1, 1982—it was a nice day with a few showers again. Mailed a lease to Rodney B. Bob and I went up Lake Louise Road hunting moose and caribou then went flying with Dan and flew over the trapper cabin. Saw caribou there.

Thursday, September 2, 1982—Rhynell brings milk every morning—goat milk, for my stomach. Worked around here till mid-afternoon, stopped at Hoffman’s and on to a movie at Glennallen.

Saturday, September 4, 1982—up early, washed three of my winter jackets and tried to get the water pump for the swamp buggy fixed. It broke. Sylvia sewed a tarp for me. Very nice day, pretty, full moon and cool this evening.

Salmon fishing, fossil hunting and claim-jumping

Alaskan lake

Dan Billman took us all salmon fishing

Tuesday, July 13, 1982—finished Cat, trouble getting dump truck running. Got five loads hauled and two buildings moved. Dan, Patti, and Jason Sylvia and I went to Kianna Creek in Dan’s 185 Cessna. Dan got one large king salmon and Sylvia caught one large, and one small king salmon—about 100 pounds of fish.

Saturday, July 24, 1982—sent in an order for snowmobile parts and chain saw sharpener. Spread and smoothed the gravel at Dan’s and moved an outhouse for him.

Sunday, July 25, 1982—dug drainage ditch at Dan’s and moved the generator building and leveled the pad for the wind generator. There was a light earthquake tremor at 8:00 p.m. tonight. Mostly a nice day, one light shower.

Monday, July 26, 1982—some folks from Minnesota came up to visit. Worked at Dan’s straightening log buildings, moved the generator. Dan took us all salmon fishing. Flew us out to this good spot. We only got one red salmon—got home at 12:30 in the morning.

Tuesday, July 27, 1982—got gear ready to prospect—Dan and Bob and I flew to Coghill Lake. Saw many Dall sheep, salmon, seals, and boats fishing. Located a quartz outcrop on College Fjord and another on Coghill River—yet another above the glacier. We saw two black bear catching salmon.

Wednesday, July 28, 1982—slept late, visited with Bob and Kahren Rudbeck and took them hiking up Slide Mountain looking for fossils—found a few and a wolverine skull. Nice day, beautiful view, good time.

Thursday, July 29, 1982—went to Dan’s. A couple of people had over-staked our claims (claim jumpers). We called a trooper, and then told them to pull their stakes and flagging and to get off our claims. Went to Glennallen and filed amended claim forms.

Friday, July 30, 1982—Sylvia is canning the 12 salmon that Darrel brought last night. Went to the dump, got a bee sting. Bob and Kahren left for Soldotna at 2:00 p.m. Rained after they left.

Nadia was awed by the sights

plane wing and view of glacier

Nadia’s first small plane ride. She was scared, excited, and in absolute awe all at the same time. ~Photo courtesy of Lee Austin

Tuesday, June 29, 1982—up early and went to Dan’s to move a fuel tank. That was a heck of a job too, but we got it moved to a new position. The women helped, just like we did.

Nadia called from Seattle. She’s coming up to see us. Dan flew Patti, Sylvia and I to Fire Lake at Birchwood to meet Nadia. She came in on the plane and a lady (Billman’s relation) picked her up and drove her to Fire Lake to Dan’s plane. After Nadia got here, Dan took off with the plane. He wanted to show Nadia things on the way. It’s over a 130 miles of flying from Fire Lake. He showed us moose, swans and salmon, the trap cabin, and Old Boot Lake. He would have flown us up the Nelchina Glacier, but as he rounded the corner to go there, he met winds that he did not want to fly in. As a smart pilot, he did not go there. We then went for pizza and had Dan and Patti with us.

Wednesday, June 30, 1982—went to Dan and Patti’s and loaded the stand for a gas barrel and moved it from their old place. This was a 500-gallon one. We moved it down to their new property and put the tank up on this stand. Then we went to KROA and then the Ranch House and had supper. We came home early. Really a nice evening, we sure enjoy having Nadia here.

Thursday, July 1, 1982—slept late and then loaded the dredge, went to Cache Creek and I showed Nadia how the dredge is set up and worked and how to pan gold with it. We ran the dredge but didn’t get much gold at all. Then we went to Ken and Jackie’s for supper and to see how the pump repair was coming along. It’s a real nice day and Nadia had a good time—and we with her.

Friday, July 2, 1982—up early and took Nadia to Anchorage for the plane. Sure wasn’t much traffic on the streets of Anchorage at 3:00 a.m. Did lots of research for prospecting at Coghill while in town that day. Got some parts, gas and grub, got home at 8:30 p.m. and went to Dan’s and called Ken about the Cat pump repair.

Fish wheel at Copper Center

a red fish

Red (sockeye) salmon

Saturday, June 12, 1982—rested most of the day. Sylvia helped with a spaghetti party to raise money for the Glennallen hospital. Bob Schmidt asked me to go to Chet’s fish wheel tonight. Bob and he are good friends and Bob likes to get salmon out of the fish wheel. Good of him to invite us along.

Sunday, June 13, 1982—left for the fish wheel. We stayed in a cabin there and went around the town of Copper Center. Bob got permission to use another fish wheel from a fella he knew. About 1:00 a.m., we got about 200 red salmon, all first class fish. One of the salmon was a king salmon. It was one of the first fish we got. All the way home from there, we gave lots of fish to all the neighbors. We offered them all they might want. Then Bob and Sylvia and I shared what was left. We got our share all cleaned and were sure tired that next evening. But it had been a very good day—the small mosquitoes were out today.

Monday, June 14, 1982—Sylvia canned salmon. She really is good at that, and likes to put up meat and food. I went to Dan’s for a while.

Wednesday, June 16, 1982—got a fairly late start, but got seven loads of gravel loaded and hauled to Dan’s. Fairly heavy rain. Went to see Hoffmans for a while.

Thursday, June 17, 1982—got up early to a light rain. Loaded and hauled gravel for Dan all day. Prospected in the evening. Found some very interesting gold in Cache Creek. Saw a moose swim across Snowshoe Lake.

Friday, June 18, 1982—it’s raining, but we prospected anyhow. We got farther up Cache Creek and found more gold. Tom came for his dog that had been staying with us.

Saturday, June 19, 1982—got up early, then cleaned the cabin and made more bookcases. Rodney Borders called with farm business. Andy Boyle called about a commercial fishing ad.

Sunday, June 20, 1982—got some things ready to prospect Cache Creek. Dennis, Sally and son Chris visited. Dennis and Bob Schmidt and I celebrated father’s day at KROA.

Monday, June 21, 1982—Dan and Patti Billman, Sylvia and I staked four 40 acre claims on Cache Creek—really tired tonight. We had a good fish supper.

Prospecting at Coghill and bear at Coswell

Outline of the state of AlaskaMonday, June 7, 1982—go like hell getting the rest of the gear ready to go to Coghill Lake. Windy here. Watching the weather, hope it will let us get there. Dan with his 185 Cessna will fly his brother Denny and me to prospect in the Coghill River and Lake Area.

Tuesday, June 8, 1982—up early, left Snowshoe Lake late, got to Coghill Lake and made camp. It rained with some fog. It was a great trip over the glaciers to Prince William Sound. We saw five black bears near where we camped, one was a monster! When we landed the plane there, we found a rubber raft that a bear had bit and put holes in it, leaked the air all out. We saw lots of ducks and swans and lots of beavers. We prospected most of the night. It got real late.

Wednesday, June 9, 1982—we prospected several creeks and got a small amount of gold. It will take a more expensive effort to see if this is worthwhile. We saw another black bear from the air. It’s still raining. The first night, Dan tied the plane up along the shore. He slept in the plane and Denny and I each had tarps. We crawled in our sleeping bags and wrapped up in our tarps. These were really tall trees and it was rainy. In the morning we discovered that where Denny had chosen to sleep, the darned water had run in underneath his tarp and he and everything in there was wet. Dan tried to start a fire but we couldn’t get the wood to burn—it was all too wet. Dan would drain off AV gas and we’d try to pour that on the wood to get it to burn, but it just wouldn’t burn. After a few failures like this, we got in the plane and flew over to near Coswell Lake and we got ourselves in to a forester cabin over there. There was dry wood and we got a fire going and got dry. Then we went out and got more wood and brought it is so it would dry out overnight from the heat from the stove. Denny, he chose to sleep up in the loft. This cabin was an A-frame and there were bunks on each side of the a-frame against the outside of the roof.

Thursday, June 10, 1982—I woke up looking a big black bear square in the eyes at two feet with the window between us. He was reared up with paws on the window and was looking at me. When I saw him, I yelled, “Bear! Get the hell outta here!” Dan, he heard that and he happened to be faced towards the side of the A-frame. He rose up so quickly, he hit his head on the A-frame. Then he had to flop around in the bunk and in the sleeping bag to get rolled over so he could see something. His brother Denny, up in the loft, slammed the door shut and stood on it so the bear wouldn’t get up there at him. (These two guys were thinking the bear was in the cabin.) But when they looked around, they saw there was no bear inside. We got all dressed and went out and we could see where the bears claws had gripped the edge of the porch (this is an overhanging lip over the porch) and the bear made a leap off of the porch and it was about 3.5 feet to the ground—he landed on all four feet, 18 feet—six big steps from the porch. You could see where he went running out through the grass and brush and stuff.

So we had breakfast and then Denny and I took guns and went out looking for the bear. A bear that time of year would make awfully good eating. We walked around and we saw paths that the bear had made walking through the grass and stuff. It was trying to rain all the time, but it was easy to track him. But we couldn’t get up to him. Finally later in the day we decided we would go to Whittier and out over Portage Pass in Anchorage. Dan is a pilot and he knows the ways and just how and where to go safely.

Marking land at Old Boot and Satiety Lakes

whale blubber and skin, looks like sushi

The Dimmicks served us a traditional Inuit/Eskimo meal

Saturday, January 23, 1982—messed around here, read and had a great night’s sleep. The Northern Lights were fantastic—sort of yellow and looked like a gently curving river flowing in the sky.

Sunday, January 24, 1982—split wood, visited Blake and Jackie. Paid them for feeding and caring for the dogs while we were in Minnesota. They gave us two moose t-bone steaks. Boy, were they good.

Monday, January 25, 1982—went to Tazlina for a few hours and came home at 7:00 p.m. It was -41°.

Monday, February 1, 1982—my birthday, Sylvia fixed a good dinner. I don’t feel good today. Worked on a large knife scabbard for James. He’s building a very large knife and I’m making a scabbard for it. It was cloudy and warmer today.

Wednesday, March 31, 1982—loaded some gear and went to Darrel’s and loaded the snow machine sled. Darrel and I went to Old Boot Lake and fixed up our camp there, looked over our staking problems and spent the evening reading regulations and making decisions and plans. It’s been a real nice day, a little windy here. A small herd of caribou was near our camp as we drove up.

Thursday, April 1, 1982—another nice day, very windy. Saw four caribou and ptarmigan while we were making Darrel’s back property line. We got lots of measuring done today.

Friday, April 2, 1982—we’ve been working the last few days trying to get the land we’re claiming on Old Boot Lake lined out. It’s 40 acres and I have to cut trail around it ¼ mile by ¼ mile, by ¼ mile and we’re having a lot of trouble with the back lines to get through the brush and keep it straight. I snowmobiled out to feed Darrel’s dogs and came home for a few things we need. Nice day, but it was cold.

Saturday, April 3, 1982—it’s a very nice day up early, went to Dimmick’s they were not home. Went to Darrel’s and we all went to Old Boot Lake. We got a lot of work done this afternoon.

Sunday, April 4, 1982—we worked on the property lines at Old Boot and Satiety Lake. Got the corner posts and lines in on my 40 acres. Saw a spruce hen. Some really nice trees here. I had a burbot set out, but didn’t catch one. Came out to the road in the evening.

Tuesday, April 6, 1982—visited Henry, called land office and went to Dimmick’s. We ate muktuk, a traditional Inuit/Eskimo meal of frozen whale skin and whale blubber, dried seal, fish and seal oil, then visited Dan and Patti Billman. It was a warm day.

Sunday, April 11, 1982—up early, drove the snowgo to my trapping cabin, got things all done there then went to Old Boot Lake and took pictures of the corner posts. Cut up some trees at a ditch on the seismic trail near the fifth line on Old Boot Lake that Henry stakes. Saw moose caribou, bear, fox, martin, tracks. Parked the truck up to Jay’s place and got to see him and his wife at mile 16 on the Lake Louise Road. Visited Max and Irene Hoffman and did a lot of odd chores around here it was a pretty nice day.

Monday, April 12, 1982 through Tuesday, May 4, 1982—No entries. (This is unusual because Norman always writes in his journal, even if it is about mundane things.)

Wednesday, May 5, 1982—went into Old Boot Lake and painted Henry’s stakes. Saw moose caribou, bear, fox, and marten tracks. Visited Jay and his wife at mile 16 on the Lake Louise Road.

Thursday, May 6, 1982—took canoe behind Ski-Doo into Old Boot Lake. Trail is soft. Darrel went with us to Glennallen. Stopped to visit Dennis and Sally at Tolsona Lake.