The day trip to the Cabin was a bit of a disappointment … because I hated to have to leave after only a couple of hours! The walk in was slushy with dangerously slick mud hiding under the slush. Whole chunks of trail slid out from under me in places, so I finally gave up and walked through the brushy kinnikinnick at the side of the trail. The lake is still frozen, but doesn’t look solid anymore. As the snow melts on the lake and above it, water builds up on the surface of the ice. So to my eye it looked like open water all along the “ice road” that my neighbors use, and although I was assured that it was still plenty solid for a vehicle, I’m a chicken. The trail worked just fine!
On my way out I stopped in to accept a dinner invitation with my friends, Susie and her husband, who live up there year round. They had a real treat for me. They had come across a book written by a woman who had come to Alaska in the 1940’s with her husband and two small children. Amid the trials and tribulations of pioneer life in Anchorage, this woman found the money, time, strength and courage to build a remote cabin. My cabin as it turns out! I am so excited about reading and sharing this book that I’ve decided to relax my strict policy of not disclosing personal details that could give away my location. But in order to learn more, you’ll have to read the book! “Reluctant Pioneer” by Cecile Betts.
As we had suspected, the cabin is built from a kit. Cecile had recently divorced her first husband and acquired the property on the lake after a round of court battles over child support. The ruins of the tiny log cabin that I have long referred to as the “trapper’s cabin” on the property is actually the original dwelling that her family used when staying up there. She reported that it was too small and the roof leaked which prompted her to find the Quik Log cabin kit which she purchased for $900. She then enlisted a local man to haul it from Anchorage for her for $50. She and her children carried the logs up the hill to her building site. Over the July 4th weekend of that year a military friend helped her build the Cabin, which likely explains the military bunks that were in use there until just two years ago.
Cecile unfortunately passed away just 3 years ago in California. I hope to make contact with some of her family and already have a letter on its way to a young lady whom I believe is her grand-daughter. As I read the book, I am finding more and more names of folks that I recognize from stories my parents have told about their early lives in Alaska. One gentleman that Cecile worked with was not only the father of my dad’s best friend but he took out my tonsils when I was 11 years old!
I am so excited to have come into this bit of history of a place that I hold so dear to my heart. I promise to share more as I learn more.