Early ’84, trapping and pickin’

man with gray beard playing guitar

Henry Johnson from Nelchina Lodge

Sunday, January 1, 1984—snowing, 5° to 0°. Zoe, James, and Becky visited. Sally came over and we all went to KROA.

Monday, January 2, 1984—some sun, nice day, 4° to 20°. Loaded the snowgo and went to Dinty Bush’s then left to run the trapline. Saw marten track at Blue Lake and the track of a traveling Wolf family near ravine on the trapline.

Wednesday, January 4, 1984—snow last night, and today strong winds, 10° to 20°. I sewed griz rip in my sleeping bag, mixed marten bait, chinked some more in cabin.

Thursday, January 5, 1984—cloudy, 0° to 23°. Nothing on the line, made two marten sets. Saw tracks of two fox. A lot of people are staking at Loon Lake subdivision. Visited KROA, and Henry and Sally—Jim and Mary were there.

Saturday, January 7, 1984—sunny, -10° to -5°. Went to Glennallen. Couldn’t get wolf urine. Sewed lure, bait bags at Patti Billman’s (Dan is in Hawaii). Helped Allen Farmer butcher a road kill moose.

Thursday, January 12, 1984—warm and windy, light snow, 34°. Loaded snowgo and went to Dinty Bush’s, then left for the cabin. Made rat sets on Rat Lake. Saw marten, fox and lynx tracks. Nothing in traps. Emergency repair trap sled.

Friday, January 13, 1984—warm today and cloudy. Made fox set for this lake. Checked marten set and made another marten set. Explored for, and cut some new trail. Nailed some more mink and marten boxes.

Sunday, January 15, 1984—beautiful day. Remade all sets plus three new fox/coyote sets. Got a cross fox, marten and two rats. Left one rat set, skinned fox.

Monday, January 23, 1984—bright sun, -30° to -20°. Walked to wood lot, four trees blown down.

Tuesday, January 24, 1984—bright sun, clear sky and cold. -40° to -30°. Trimmed the four downed trees in the wood lot, cut into logs and piled them.

Wednesday, January 25, 1984—sunny and clear, -49° to -35°. Cut trap trail south, then west to next ridge.

Monday, January 30, 1984—cloudy, 10° to 18°. Ground 88 packages of moose meat at Allen F.’s. Visited with Sally, Darrel, Tom, Jim, and Mary for a while. Harry Billum was killed this day. I will miss him, he was a fine trapper.

Friday, February 3, 1984—it was -5° all day with light snow. Eight inches of snow on the trail to cabin. Made one fox set and one snare for lynx—remade most of the rest. Trouble getting up hill at Blue Lake. Got one marten south of cabin.

Saturday, February 4, 1984—0° to 16°. Cloudy, three inches of snow last night, sunshine this afternoon. Put up radio antenna, works well. Skinned marten and cleaned snow off roof again.

Sunday, February 5, 1984—partly cloudy, nice day, -5° to 7°. Made marten set and put up pole for another. Checked snowgo, cleaned snow off outhouse, and set snare for wolf.

Monday, February 6, 1984—bright sun, -5° to 4°. Chris R. flew Dan B. to Hole Lake and we visited for a while in the afternoon. I’ll get an early start tomorrow to go out. Put one conibear on pole and made another marten box set farther on trail.

Tuesday, February 7, 1984—sunny day, -10° to -7°. Up early, remade most sets on way out to road. Had to leave small sled half way out. Much deeper snow and many drifts, stuck in snow many times. Flat tire on truck. Stopped and visited Cora at Junction and KROA.

Wednesday, February 8, 1984—sunny day, -16° to -4°. Cleaned snow from cabin and woodshed roofs and bedded the dogs. Visited Henry and Sally, Sam, and Jim and Mary. Put belt on Patti Billman’s spinning wheel.

Thursday, February 9, 1984—beautiful day, -20° to -5°. Went to see Jim and Mary Odden. We each got a nice pile of wood out to their place and then home with ours after a nice Mexican supper. Lots of neighbors were at the supper and “pickin” after.



Broken leg, -25° and 20 miles from help

man down with broken leg in snow

Norman breaks his leg miles from anywhere

Monday, March 23, 1981—still a little sick, got some things ready to go back to the trapping cabin. I think I sold the Taymond Hanson 160 acres in Minnesota to a neighbor.

Tuesday, March 24, 1981—Mike came over and we left for trap cabin to get traps for the ratting expedition in another area. Ski-Doo is giving me engine trouble. Hauled wood. Put two 55-gallon drums up on the platform Cache. I will store things in them over summer. Put sharp spikes around both cabin windows to discourage bears from trying to get in. Quite tired tonight. It’s really great to be out here at the trap cabin. I think Mike likes it out here too, he is a woodsman at heart.

Wednesday, March 25, 1981—after breakfast, we went to the trap cache and brought the rat traps back here to the cabin. Had lunch and loaded everything we needed to take out to the highway on our sleds. Left the cabin after dinner some time—I was leading on my Ski-Doo pulling a heavy load on the sled behind me.

About four miles out, I was going up a short rise in the trail and gave it more gas. I don’t know how it happened, but I got knocked off my snow machine and landed butt down on a 5-gallon can of gas. My right leg was dragging in the trail in front of the runner of the sled I was pulling when the runner caught on a tree, pinning my leg in between. The Ski-Doo and sled dragged on around the tree and I went airborne and landed in a low place six or eight feet down off the trail.

When Mike arrived, we took my Sorel boot off and all the socks so I can feel my lower leg and find out how badly I was hurt. The right leg lower small bone was broken, knee twisted, and same for the ankle. It was -25° or thereabouts so we wasted no time getting the socks and boot back on. We decided Mike would drive my outfit and I would drive his smaller machine with no load. I got my right foot tucked on the running board and it wasn’t too bad until we got close to Old Man Lake. Mike couldn’t get my Ski-Doo to pull the sled up a short, but steep rise up off a small lake we were crossing. He worked hard and tried everything he knew. The sun slipped down below the trees taking the temperature even lower.

Mike came out to me on the lake to see what I wanted to do. He was concerned about leaving a sled load of gear sitting here. I told him I was cold from just sitting and he should move the sled out of the way so I can drive by and we would go on to Dan and Patti’s, which was about 18 miles from where we were. He did that and we had just gotten out onto Old Man Lake when a local pilot spotted us and taxied over. Mike walked over to him and told him what was up. This pilot offered to fly me to the airport at Gulkana. It was a small two passenger plane and I dreaded trying to get that bum leg stuffed into the close quarters of that plane, and then out again at Gulkana so I refused his kind offer.

When I got to Billman’s place, Patti saw me drive up and came out, took my left arm over her shoulder and helped me into the house. Mike came in on my Ski-Doo a little later and drove me to the little hospital in Glennallen. I have one broken bone, crushed muscle and a wrenched knee and ankle. This of course, wrecked the rat (muskrat) trapping expedition.

Thursday, March 26, 1981—I sure don’t like being in the hospital. Mike and Sylvia came to get me in the evening and when we got home, Charlie came to visit for a while.

Friday, March 27, 1981—Peter and Sam came to visit. It’s sunny today and I’m recuperating, but slow. Sylvia went to a movie with Betty and the kids in Glennallen. There isn’t much for TV here and the movie house in Glennallen is about all we have.

Saturday, March 28, 1981—my knee is red so we went to the doctor and he said it’s okay. He put a walking splint on my leg and I’m walking now—carefully. Went to KROA at Mendeltna for an Italian feed. The lady that owns it is Italian and a good cook. We had a good time there that evening.

Sunday, March 29, 1981—I hobbled up to the lodge once and back home I slept a little and read one book—I read lots of books. It’s a favorite pastime for me.

Monday, March 30, 1981—I laid around most of the day, babying my leg.

Tuesday, March 31, 1981—went to the doctor to take the splint off.