Thursday, June 9, 2011

My new home

I arrived in Fairbanks earlier this week. My old park ranger friend, Josh--not to be confused with my other good friend named Josh--and I went out on a 38 mile hike to and from Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail in which Chris McCandless lived and died. (I'll do a post on that another day.)

The following day I got a plane ride up to Coldfoot in the company's 10-seat Navajo. Here are a couple views from the clouds.

It's been an exceptionally hot spring/summer season so far, so there are plenty of wild fires, which caused, as you'll see, the following pictures to be a little smoky.

Yukon River.

Here's the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River--a 10-minute walk from where I live in Coldfoot.

I am Coldfoot Camp's "writer in residence." I'll devote almost all of my time to literary pursuits, but, for room and board, I've agreed to work at the camp one day a week (without pay). What that work will be is uncertain as of this moment, but I'm willing to do anything, as I'm more than happy with our agreement.

My new home has electricty, two windows, two beds, and a small desk for writing. Currently there's no internet connection, but I can get that at the camp's central headquarters. There's also no need for a stove or fridge since there's a kitchen staff that makes breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets for the truckers, tourists, and Coldfoot staff, of which I'm considered one.

Inside of cabin when I arrived.

As you can see, there are two random sticks hanging from the ceiling, each of which had nails poking out at about retina-level, which I bumped into 4 or 5 times despite being deathly aware of.

Heap of dead mosquito carcasses in my windowsill.

Blinds hung from inventively-bent wire hanger.

Random union button.

I removed the eye-gouging posts, moved the beds around, and tidied up. The next few shots are an almost 360-degree view of the cabin.

Here's the view from my rear window: spruce, birch trees, and what looks like a vacant husky house.

Needless to say, I am very happy with my new home. Certainly an upgrade from the van.


Tesaje said...

Beautiful place. Will you have a cabin mate? Seems like the extra bed takes up a lot of useless space if you don't. I assume bathing facilities are in the camp along with the kitchen. Why do they not bother with a coat of paint on the outside to protect the obviously weathering wood? Looks a lot nicer inside than out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! I hope your
writing flows easily.

Unknown said...

Way to utilize your space! And that was definitely a good idea taking those boards down. I would've bumped into them too. Then again, I'm not brave enough to head up to Alaska and live in a small cabin...
Great photos!

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy the posts about your living space. wonder what those sticks with nails were used for.

Diane said...

I don't see any insulation. Looks like the place is aptly named. Can't wait to see future posts.

Ken said...

Tesaje--No cabin mate. The space is actually way more than I need. I'd be happy with half that space. And yes, toilet/shower facilities are on another part of camp.


Constant--ah, I hardly consider it a cabin. I live in a place where the food is shipped up from the lower 48 and the energy is generated with diesel. Hardly rugged.

Anon--I think they were used to prevent a storage container from falling over.

Diane--No insulation. It can only be lived in during the summer obviously. I'm confortable in my sleeping bag. And it's always cool enough during the day, so I don't get too hot.

Jay said...

How does it economcally work for them to have you there? I see a lot of indirect economic benefits '
]\to having a writer in residence (increased tourism, etc), but are you immedately a net debit or credit? I would think that energy costs in the summer would be quite low / non-issue.

Very excting stuff, this visit. A modern day Jack London story. All you need is a wolf/dog.

Ken said...

Jay--Good question. I'd like to say that I'm debt-neutral. I've promised them to work a day a week (either as a guide, cook, or cleaner) to cover my room and board, which doesn't cost them much. I don't increase tourism, but if my book works out--2/3rds of which is set in Coldfoot--it may "get the word out" about Coldfoot, and provide them with some minor economic benefit. Making this whole thing possible is that I'm friends with the people who own it--so economics isn't of the utmost importance.

RomanaS said...

Hi Ken.
Who on Earth puts eye gouging posts in a cabin? I assume that they were there for a reason other than eye gouging? Perhaps to hang a clothes line or lanterns? But there seems to be plenty of other beams to hang those from.
I'm looking forward to reading about your Magic Bus hike. I have looked at that trail so many times on Google Earth. I just wrote a post on my own blog about him the other day. I've often wondered what I would have done if I was Chris and had seen the Tek at a peak level. I kind of figure I'd have looked for another place to cross. Some people have also suggested that he could have hiked south to the Denali Park road but that looked like the same distance to the first houses on the Stampede Road, and he would have had to walk through a valley in the Primrose range. Do you think such a walk would have been possible? It looks pretty flat for the first 10 miles if you stay up on the flats outside of the river valley.
I have also wondered why there is no bridge over the Tek. Not a road bridge, but a simple three cable rope bridge could probably be slung together in a single day if one used the pine tree trunks to anchor it either side of the river.
Anyway, I'm a bit envious of your life right now mate. You're one place I'd like to visit, and you're getting paid to be there. :)
Take care,
Romana S.

Ken said...

Romana--I should clarify that I'm not getting paid unless you consider room and board a wage. Currently I have about $1000. Luckily I am bill-free, so it should stay that way.

I'm actually submitting the tale of my Stampede Trail trek to an outdoors magazine, so I don't think whatever entry I post will be too in-depth. The Tek was very very low, but still very hard to cross. I hiked .5 miles upstream to find a better crossing site, and even there, I thought, for a moment, that I was going to get swept under. I think I understand why McCandless--probably very weak and hungry--turned back if he saw the Tek at its worst--that is one nasty river. The cable rope bridge seems unlikely. For one, the river is incredibly wide. Also, I don't think there are many ideal positions between pine trees. The river, of course, is constantly changing, cutting down banks and sucking in trees, so I doubt it would last long. Though, I believe the book mentions some crossing mechanism far upstream. I'll put up pictures soon, but feel free to "facebook friend me" and check out the pics I've put up there.

Shane Adams said...

What a nice and cozy place you got there! The deal for your lodging was totally fair for both parties. It gave you a lot of freedom to do the things you need to do. Also, good luck on your writing career!