Well, folks, I am still alive and well here in the north. I’ve just been very lazy about posting to this blog. I’ll try to make up for it in the future. Here’s the catch-up.
The month of May started out pretty normal, weather wise, but spring was much later this year than the previous two (years). June and July (so far), have been much cooler than normal, but still pretty dry. The only really freaky natural weather we had was four days in a row at the end of May, with thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are rare here, usually, and if they do come, it is usually in July. The lightning started up a fire about two hundred miles north of here, which caused the traffic on highway 37 to be restricted for a while.
My garden this year is just as large as last year, but I have a limited variety of veggies this year. I didn’t bother with any of the cabbage type stuff, or lettuce, but concentrated instead on getting my baby asparagus plants transplanted and spaced out. Got spuds, carrots, peas, beets, spinach, wheat, and a few other things to look after, but the garden doesn’t really demand too much of my time.
I have been spending some of my “off” days, here at the lodge, watching TV or reading books, or playing around with Sketchup or Movie Maker.
Last week, a couple of old friends showed up here for a while. I had met John O’Brien, originally from Nova Scotia, back in 1973 while he was working as a miner at the Granduc Copper mine near Stewart. I visited him in Nova Scotia back in 2007. Now he and a friend, Joe, drove here from Nova Scotia and spent a few days here at the Lodge. I took some time off from work and hired a helicopter myself for a one hour flight which took us up over the cabins at the Ningunsaw valley, Bob Quinn Lake, then down the Iskut and over the canyon and the huge hydro-electric project there, then we flew up and over the Eskay Creek gold mine, swung south and flew over the Knipple glacier and ice field before returning to the lodge.
There is now a four hundred-man construction camp on the lava flats near the Iskut canyon. It is supposed to take four or five years for them to get the run-of-the-river (195megawatt) project done. In the mean-time, surveyors and line-cutters are working on the power line layout which will basically follow the highway south from the sub-station near km 2 on the Eskay Creek road. The access road to the power towers will pass within 250 yards of my garden and the “Fritz”-cabin site. When the road is finally built, maybe next year, I plan to make myself a driveway to the cabin so I can haul in some really good building supplies and materials. I want to build a new cabin-cum-root cellar there just a bit to the east of the existing structure. I want to do something with all of the money that I have accumulating in the bank. I want to spend some of this money while it still has some value. I expect that there will still come a major depression and devaluation of many currencies.
Like I said, I am putting money away in the bank, living off my tips, and I am wondering what I should do with all the cash in the bank. I can’t see spending it on travel – that just burns up more fossil fuel and doesn’t really satisfy me at all. I am going to keep working here in some capacity or another for just as long as I can, or for as long as the collapsing economy can support places like this (Last Frontier Heli-skiing). I think I will start getting some building materials purchased and shipped up the highway - windows, doors, roofing, plywood, insulation, plumbing stuff, a few pallets of Sack-crete (dry ready mix), etc.
At least once a month I drive down to Terrace on Lodge business and I have been down there a few times with Richard Klocker (who has the Todagin River Ranch just south of Tattogga Lake. Usually stay a night or two when I go to Terrace. I have made regular trips to Stewart, too, all on company business with Lodge vehicles, so I really do not need to get a truck for myself at this time. I have about 2000 Km on the cycle now, but I just use it locally (no license).
During May, when there was still a lot of snow in the woods between here and Stewart, there were many bears to be seen. The shoulders of the roads were bare and good grass and clover was growing to the ditches while the rest of the woods were still snow-covered. All the bears in the country were found within a few yards of the highway for a while. I counted fifteen blacks on one trip from Stewart to the lodge (100 miles). Saw a couple of grizzlies, too. The day before yesterday, we saw a mama black here near the lodge that had two cubs with here. One black cub and one that was bright red (cinnamon). I never saw a bear so brightly colored, somewhere between the colour of a red fox and a red-haired human. This cub was only about the size of a small terrier dog, maybe 12 pounds.
A couple of weeks ago (this was written in July) I chased a bull moose down the highway with my cycle, right on his heels for about three hundred yards before he went into the woods. While I was roaring my engine in low gear at the moose’ heels, two RV’s with American tourists were stopped on the highway watching the show. I should have had my video camera mounted on the handlebars!
We have a helicopter leased for the summer this year, hoping to take tourists out for short flights, but so far, that hasn’t worked out. Most tourists these days have a very limited budget and just the price of fuel limits what they can spend their money on. Lots of foreign tourists this year, too, from Europe and South America.
I have been spending some time getting the perennial flower gardens here at the lodge in shape. They had been neglected for several years, but there are some nice perennials here that are worth saving and propagating. Lots of columbines and delphiniums. I have been transplanting some of my stuff from the Ningunsaw down here, too, but the soil and climate is much different here than it is thirty miles north at my place. It is interesting to see the differences.
The rest of the summer was really shitty, weather wise; lots of cool weather, drizzle and rain. In September, we had some major flooding and were cut off from the world for a while. Stewart had extreme flooding, too, and the road is being rebuilt. Many washouts between here and Bob Quinn, but that is fixed now. Saw twenty-six black bears on one return from Stewart in late August. Had four bears regularly here at the lodge for the last couple of months. We were able to watch them dining on clover less than a hundred feet away while we ate our supper in the lodge.
We had some guests here recently from far away who came to catch steelhead trout. I was tasked with picking some up and delivering others to the airport in Terrace, so I have made several round trips (500 miles) lately. On October 17, I left the lodge with three gentlemen from Connecticut, at 5:30 am. They had a 10:00 flight to catch. Heavy snow was falling here as I drove onto the highway, but it was melting on contact. Soon it changed to drizzle, and then, after another thirty miles or so, back to snow. By the time I got to the Hanna pass, there was about three inches of wet slush on the highway. We made it to the airport on time and by the time I returned later that same day, the road was free of snow. Today it is again snowing. Winter is on its way for sure.