Norman buys new snowgo


Norman buys a new Polaris snowmobile

Thursday, March 15, 1984—sunny, 6° to 30°. Went to Anchorage, bought new Polaris long track snowgo and did some other shopping. Picked up a rug stored at Andy Boyle’s and discussed insulating house. Andy estimates $2200.

Monday, March 19, 1984—sunny, -3° to 30°. Allen Farmer and I ran his Botley Creek trapline. He had five marten. I brought back a dozen burls. Helped Allen lay out a truss rafter and ate supper there.

Thursday, March 29, 1984—partly cloudy to sunny, 10° to 30°. Jim and Mary Odden, Darrel Gerry and I went to Green Acres. Jim and Mary will camp and stake a remote parcel beside ours on Old Boot Lake. Darrel and I did some work on our parcels and helped Jim and Mary some. Had a great time.

Sunday, April 1, 1984—sunny and windy, 20° to 38°. Sylvia helped scoop snow off basement and then went to Glennallen to do laundry. I came to trap cabin. Saw herd Caribou and moose, no new traps on some of Harry’s line, otter sign and new beaver lodge west of springs. Eight inches of overflow on Blue Lake—got stuck, got out easy, everything okay at cabin.

Monday, April 2, 1984—skiff of snow last night, sunny day, 20° to 30°. Went east to headwater lake of Old Man Creek. Did lots of exploring, built marten and mink boxes and added extension chains to traps. Saw cow moose and calf, lots of small birds near Big Spring. Windy in the evening.

Tuesday, April 3, 1984—snow showers, partly cloudy, 10° to 30°. Went to Judd Lake and explored country there. Put up five traps and one marten pole. Cut diamond willow. (Diamond willow is used for carving and making craft objects. The irregularity of shape and color in the grain adds to its appeal.) Explored, build cubby, placed more traps, improved trail—killed a porcupine (Sylvia uses the quills in crafts and Joe and Morey eat them). Saw a fox den on Judd Lake seismic trail south.

Wednesday, April 4, 1984—sunny, 10° to 35°. Up early, worked all morning getting ready to leave cabin and close it up. Ran lots of Harry’s line (with permission), picked up some more of his traps and hauled all three of sleds out and gear. Snow is soft. Visited Darrel at KROA.

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.

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.

Finding a grizzly kill and choosing remote cabin site at Old Boot Lake

trees with snow

Stand of trees near Nelchina

Wednesday, September 16, 1981—Darrel and I are going out with the swamp buggy. We got the gear packed, but didn’t get started until late. We got about a half mile off the road and stopped for the night.

Thursday, September 17, 1981—the next morning we were up early and we drove the seismic trails on our way to Ranger lake and we were climbing a small knob with the “mean machine” (also known as the swamp buggy) and as we got up to the top, the brush is all torn up and piled. We realize that this is where a grizzly has made a kill. We aren’t too worried in the machine we’re in. We looked the place over and there was part of a yearling moose that still hadn’t been eaten. Later we saw a pretty darned nice, bull moose swim the lake just south of Ranger Lake. We walked around Ranger Lake and were not overly impressed. We’re looking for land to claim in this “Green Acres” that the state is putting up for people to claim for cabins and land of their own. We did see ducks, two swans and a flock of large geese fly over. This was before I knew that the geese nested and raised young in this part of Alaska. Quite a few geese were nesting in this area.

Friday, September 18, 1981—cloudy early then the sun tried to shine. Got a late start, ran seismic trails looking for a way to Old Boot Lake. Generator quit. Camped for the night at a starting place to walk to Old Boot Lake in the morning. Raining, tent got wet, slept in swamp buggy.

Saturday, September 19, 1981—got up early ate breakfast but got a late start. Saw wolf, caribou and moose tracks and sign. Walked right to Old Boot Lake across country from another seismic trail. It’s a very nice lake. Looked it over and also stopped at other small lakes. Quite windy all day. Got back to camp close to dark. Darrel and I each found 40 acres that we would like to get from the state in this “Green Acres”. They happen to be side by side. He has one along one lake and I have one on Old Boot Lake itself. I chose Old Boot Lake and Darrel chose the lake right next to Old Boot Lake. Later he named it “Satiety”.