After Annie and Jim got married in Maine, they returned to Talkeetna to run dogs. Later in January they drove the 800 miles from Talkeetna to Haines to catch the ferry to Juneau. They had a little yellow VW bug which Annie had bought brand new in Anchorage in 1972. Annie had driven about every road possible in the area at that time. Jim had hit a moose with it near Talkeetna so he had to put in a Plexiglas windshield with a plywood frame.
They drove toward Tok during a big snowstorm. Jim was wearing his Arctic parka and Annie was wrapped in a down sleeping bag to stay warm. On their feet they wore “Bunny” boots (vapor barrier boots made for the military to stay warm in extreme cold) so their feet were toasty. The snow blew and drifted. They would have to gain speed on the bare stretches of road in order to bust through the drifts. On one straight stretch where it was hard to tell where the road ran, they actually went off the road, throwing up snow all around them so they couldn’t see anything. Amazingly, there were no trees; only a few low bushes, so they ended up almost back on the road. Luckily, another car came along within an hour and helped push them back on the highway.
In Canada, several miles beyond Dezadeash, they traveled in a line of three cars following the plow truck. As they gained elevation, the visibility became almost zero and the snow got so deep that the plow had to turn around. Fortunately, they had enough money to get a room at the Dezadeash Lodge for the night.
Finally they arrived in Gustavus. They left their little bug in Juneau and flew home. Fred Rose picked them up at the airport and gave them a ride to Four Corners. No one lived on Wilson Road or at Rink Creek in the winter then, so they had not plowed the road. Annie and Jim had to walk carrying packs all the way home through the snow. Leaving Four Corners at 4:00 p.m., they finally made it to their cabin at 7:00 p.m. It was a clear moonlit night, so they were able to navigate easily, though slowly, through the 16 inches of snow. Jim had to do a return trip that night to get more of their gear and food supplies.
Gustavus had less than 100 residents during the winter then, and the mail plane only came twice a week, making for a big social gathering at the post office while awaiting the mail. They started clearing more land and building a big shop. Annie spent a lot of time taking out stumps with shovel, axe, and mattock. The wood for the building came from DeRosier’s sawmill at Excursion Inlet. Sometimes he brought the wood over on a barge, and Jim and Annie walked the planks out to the barge to unload it at the boat harbor. Once Jim went to Excursion Inlet in his skiff and pulled a raft of lumber home, going about 3 knots..
Annie and Jim interrupted their building with trips into Glacier Bay, hikes around the Point and up Excursion Ridge, visits from Maine friends, and Continue reading