Building Our Home In The Alaskan Wilderness
In the spring of 1981 we purchased our “little piece of wilderness heaven” on Caribou Island in ill-tempered Skilak Lake. Following are photo’s of beginning our new life in the wilderness! I hope you enjoy them. Please forgive that some of these photo’s are old and grainy.
1981 – Our Cabin Site on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake! Notice our neighbor Bullwinkle in the background!
Checking out our new surroundings on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake!
Sam standing on Caribou Island’s rocky beach. In the background at the upper end of the lake are the Kenai Mountains.
Bonnie standing on the beach. Water is low in the spring.
Sam carrying a log that will be used for firewood.
Peeling the logs that will be used on the cabin.
Seems like Sam’s always got a log attached to his shoulder these days!
Floor’s done! Time for a coffee break!
Cooking breakfast on the camp stove. There’s Bullwinkle again, browsing nearby!
Making progress! Can’t wait to get out of the pup tent and into my new “home!”
Writing letters to the loved ones back home. The pup tent in the background was home for three months. The plastic sheeting behind me was used to cover the tent when it rained. There’s a pot of beans cooking on the wood stove (that Sam’s brother, Paul built for us) for supper. We ate beans every day! This photo is old but it “tells” a lot!
My handsome husband shaving out of a gold pan. This photo is dear to me because Sam looks so happy, but tragically, this was taken shortly before his horrific accident! (Details are in my book!)
This photo was taken after recuperating from his tragic accident, Sam is back to work on the cabin!
Finally got the roof on! Just need a door now!
Sam is almost finished hanging the door! A good solid door! Let the cold winds blow, we’ll be snug and warm in our little cabin home!
Home sweet home! It took lots of blood, sweat and tears, broken bones and many pots of beans. But, it’s like Sam always says, “We did it, and that’s what counts!”
When the salmon entered the lake on their way to their spawning grounds, all work ceased on the cabin. It was time to go fishing!
Several species of salmon enter the lake. Sam is posing with a nice King salmon. He got this one on the Kenai River, which flows through Skilak.
The salmon have been soaking in the brine and are now drying. They will soon go into the smoker that Sam built using a barrel, pictured in the foreground.
My wilderness kitchen! The heart of a home – for me, that is! Burned a few loaves of bread not to mention a few fingers before I got the hang of the wood cook stove!
Sam building a log chicken coop for our chickens! Good job, Sam!
Chicken coop is finished! Sam is taking a break while our rabbit, Susie hops by to inspect Sam’s work!
The flock is growing and we now have a turkey as well – seen in the pen. The fish net covering the pen protects the chickens from predator birds looking for a good meal!
Chickens go scurrying when a young bull moose pays a visit!
Feeding the chickens!
Our hen, Genevieve with her little chicks. Genevieve loved nesting and she hatched and raised more chicks than any other chicken!
Sam looks pretty happy with his new generator. Used for recharging our radio battery!
Our little homestead slowly grew to include new members. Sam is pictured here with my milk goat, Esther, and our two kid goats, Heidi and Billie . . . oh, and let’s not forget, our turkey, General Lee.
“It’s mine, I seen it first. I know there’s corn in the bottom of this bag.”
Heidi is trying to get Sam’s tobacco out of his shirt pocket!
This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, this is the way we wash our clothes, so early in the morning. Oh, the washtub had a dual purpose (at least). I not only used it for laundry, but for my bathtub as well!
Milking Esther! After I milked Esther, I would strain the milk and pour into a sterilized quart jar. Then Esther and I would walk down the “water trail” to the beach where Esther would browse on choice grasses while I would re-fill my dishpan with fresh cold lake water. I would rotate the jars in the dishpan, which I kept off the beach and tucked away just inside the tree-line. That milk would be very cold and delicious in less than an hour.
Yippee! I’m moving up in the world! From washtub to sauna for my bathing needs! Sam built this wood heated sauna our second summer on the island. Nothing better to warm a body to the bones and clean out the pores!
AND THEN COMES WINTER!
WINTER WONDERLAND! So quiet you can hear a snowflake falling to the ground.
Chickens are tucked in safe and warm for the winter! I think Heidi wants to move in!
OUR FIRST WINTER! FEELING BLESSED IN OUR HUMBLE LITTLE CABIN!
A moose out on the frozen surface of Skilak Lake.
Moose on Caribou Island!
Moose on Caribou Island munching on tree branches near our cabin.
With winter comes trapping. Here is Sam with a Coyote!
Sam with a coyote he caught. Along with coyote, Sam trapped, mink, otter, beaver and more.
Trapper Sam holding up a string of mink pelts! Notice the Bear jaw handled knife he made?
I enjoyed sewing and making crafts out of the furs that Sam trapped.
Sam sporting the beaver fur hat I made for him. He trapped the beaver during the winter.
Building a dock! Skilak is frozen and you can see our “ice road” behind Sam as it heads toward Frying Pan Island!
Our second summer, Sam also built a guest cabin tucked into the woods behind our main cabin.
My sister came to visit our fourth year on the island. She is seen here with Sam as they skin a rabbit that Sam just shot for our supper.
Sam the great hunter! He provided all of our meat from hunting and fishing. We never bought meat (or bread for that matter) out of a grocery store for nine years! I canned all of our meat in quart jars by the hundred’s and baked all of our bread! Yummy & Healthy!
The huge 1,000 pound brown bear that Sam shot!
That was a big bear!
Sam’s pretty happy that he brought this bear down. It had charged him and his friend up on the mountain.
That brown bear was so big that it made our cabin look small!
Photo’s Of The Beautiful Outdoors!
Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.
Up on the mountain where Sam shot the bear and where we would pick blueberries. Looking down the lake toward Caribou and Frying Pan Islands. The tiny Island in between the two is Little Caribou Island.
This is our second cabin home that we built our third year on the island. Nestled safely in a forest of snow covered pines. You can see our very first “wooden Dumpey” boat, “Ol’ Slow Boat Annie,” we dubbed her. And the Old Dorey next to her. We’ve swamped that Dory a time or two crossing that lake with a loads of wood!
Skilak is in a bad mood this day! Photo is old, grainy and not very clear. Doesn’t do the scene justice!
Landscape photo of the upper end of the lake by Jeremy Sauskojus. This is Skilak on one of those rare and beautiful days. Days like this would make me sometimes forget how ill-tempered the “great lady” could get.