The fairy tale forest
|Setting off from Dawson|
We’ve been out for 6 weeks and in that time the forest has sprung up, fast as a million beanstalks from a million magic beans, and engulfed our home almost beneath it.
|Cabin's in there somewhere|
I can barely see the house as we pull in to land. Our trails up the bank are clotted with greenery and we push our way through with arm load after arm load of supplies.
It’s a short summer, but the sun shines all night and plants go utterly mad with the joy of it. There is fireweed everywhere, blowing buff seeds into the air and casting a purple tint across the yard. The willows we cut in the spring have bounced back so vigorously it feels like they’re laughing at us.
We missed the delphiniums but the bog star and lupins are still blooming. Our potatoes, beans and even our tomatoes survived their abandonment, and somehow hung in there beneath the towering chickweed.
The last of our raspberries are moulding on the stems and so we dashed out the morning after we arrived to pick as many as we could for jam. We’ve started straight away on the cranberries too which seem to have ripened early this year. Usually we wait for the first frost as this apparently makes them sweeter, but we don’t want to lose our beautiful garnet berries to a rainstorm.
|Horse tail in the woods. Just on the turn.|
The amount of green is overwhelming. It comes right up to the door and I find myself wishing we’d tarmacked the place. Oh, for some concrete I dream as I thrust my way through the jungle that has engulfed our water trail to the creek.
There’s not time now to cut it all back as, as well as our raspberry jam emergency, we want to get all our supplies in whilst the weather is warm.
|Another day, another load...|
We’re done with the ‘shivering in the boat, ice building on the hull and fingers turning blue with cold’ - thing and so have decided to move as much as we can, as soon as we can. 6 or 7 boats loads should do it.
|"Just wait there while I take a photo!" He's not smiling|
Yesterday evening, dragging the 17th load of roofing tin and plywood, two sheets at a time, up the 100’, 1 in 4 gradient bank from the boat to the yard and counting at least 3 more trips to go, it was hard to imagine what possessed me to come back.
|Mist and rain on the river|
In England, everything is already built for me, shopping can be transported almost door to door in a bus. If the bus breaks down, they send another while someone at the depot fixes it.
|Poling the boat out. It keeps getting beached as the water level is dropping|
It all felt rather stifling when I lived there, but what a marvellous arrangement it seems now. There would be none of this nonsense going on and I’d be sitting somewhere with a fancy gin and tonic by 8pm.
|Heading home, dreaming of a G and T|
We’ve promised ourselves that one day we’ll buy a petrol-powered winch for this bank. And after that a chair lift, which is the thing I’m most looking forward to.
|Wrestling Homer into the truck at racer, Brian Wilmshurst's yard. Looks like he's being kidnapped|
We’ve dragged a full 14 x 40kg sacks of kibble up for our ungrateful husky. Last year he was able to help us by pulling the wheelbarrow. With his knee injury, he can no longer pull. He has gone from being an asset to a liability, creating more work and expense for his exhausted and hapless owners.
|First arrival. Looks like no one wants to get out of the boat|
If he’s not going to work, he really ought to look cute and do the pet dog thing but he still refuses to come in the house, even on the rainiest of days.
|Raining so hard we made him come in and sit on his blanket. Hates every minute of it|
It is raining again as I type, and whilst that makes bringing supplies in by boat a damp and miserable experience, it has hopefully reduced our wildfire risk. We still have a few fires smouldering down river and can smell sweet smoke in the air when the wind blows from the north. Incredibly, wildfire crews flew in and set up sprinklers over all of our buildings, even the half-built new log cabin. They must be more optimistic about us finishing it than we are.
|As we left it, temp roof nailed in place to protect the notches. Probably stay like this forever now.|
Those folk worked their asses off this year as fires spread through the Yukon, Alaska and Arctic. We are grateful and humbled that they found time for our shabby old collection of built and half-built cabins. Neil took them a crate of beer to say thanks and we hope it reached some of the crews that were working downriver here.
Unfortunately, in their haste to make us fire safe they knocked over Homer’s beautiful log-built dog house. We’ve put it back together but all the moss chinking’s fallen out and it’s gone a bit wonky so obviously we’ll have to sue. Fair’s fair, a lot of time and work went into that kennel. Neil’s on his way to get the beer back.
|Bit wonky. Homer's favourite tree gone too|
Luckily there was no other damage whilst we were out. No clumsy bears or marauding squirrels. We watched a mother cinnamon bear and her two beautiful golden-brown cubs swimming across river. The chap that built this cabin told us he often saw cinnamon bears here and that they tended to be smaller than average, as these were. Cinnamon bears are actually black bears but with a brown colour phase.
|View from the ridge|
We haven’t been lucky enough to see them before but there they were, paddling across river and then dashing out and into the brush, cute as little cinnamon buns with worried raison eyes, though I dare say less cuddly up close than they appeared from our boat. Probably they were just passing through as we’ve found no evidence of them hanging out around the property.
|Good news- no voles in the bucket trap! They're partial to peanut butter but once in, they can't jump out|
We did have a bear spray stolen, but I don’t think the culprit was a Machiavellian bear, cinnamon or otherwise. I left it hanging outside the cabin in case anyone came up and found a furry friend had moved in. Some thieving, little twat stole it, and we’re 60 bucks down.
|Arrival. Taking the bear boards down.|
I do hope they lost it and got mauled. Not to death or anything drastic, but just a bit. Enough to teach them a lesson. So that’s the end of us leaving safety gear out for passing assholes. Next summer we’ll rig up a loaded shotgun and trip wire. Try stealing that, fuckers.
|Lost a few trees to storms this summer. Neil's got to work already making firewood|
This week, we plan to make like the grizzly bears and go up onto the hills to pick blueberries. They are our favourite berries, the absolute best for making jam, but grow inconveniently far up in the mountains. However, Homer can have some gainful employment as bear look-out and there should be some magnificent photo opportunities.
|Shifting materials on a choppy day|
We can do another boat load of supplies and it will be pleasant to emerge from the depths of the tangled forests down here in the valley to the endless, wide-open skies.
So it’s all jam, as they say in England.