The year was 1978, the place was the upper Chitina River. I had been flown out to catch horses and repair the cabins at a hunting camp. Up until this point, I had never spent a day alone in my life so I didn't know what to expect.
My boss, Ken Bunch landed on an airstrip that I thought was a helicopter pad and told me this would be my home for the next few months.
A bear had recently torn up the cabins and out buildings. The doors had been smashed in and even some of the plywood had been peeled off the walls.
Most of the plywood had been flown in in 2 x 4' sheets which made it easier for the bear to peel it off, which he did.
The door was a hollow core door which probably felt as strong as toilet paper to the bear.
He had also gotten into all of the food in the cabin, making a huge mess.
Outside, he had bitten into the Blazo (white gas) cans draining them of there contents. I could never understand why they would bite a gas can.
Ken didn't give me much direction, he just wrote the names of the horses on the back of an envelope, Whitey, Blacky, Bad Eye, Friendly, Grey and so on. It was very easy to identify which one was which.
Before getting into his plane and flying off he pointed to a small cache platform in a tree and told me there was enough survival gear in the cache to keep me alive in case I burned the cabin down. "Keep you alive until I can get out and shoot you" he said with no hint of sarcasm. Then he got in his plane and took off. Here I was, an eighteen year old kid looking for adventure, never had spent a day alone in my life.
I first got started repairing the cabin. I found an old hammer with one claw, some used nails and an old hand saw with very dull teeth. Since I didn't have anything to campare it to, I felt fortunate to have even these simple tools.
To make a long story shorter, I fixed the cabin and made it liveable; at least until the bear came around again, but that is a story for another blog.
My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?
- Charles Schulz