Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Icefishing Trip With No Actual Icefishing

There are the great outdoor trips that a person looks back to fondly, the sort that you tells stories about that always start out with "You remember that time we..."

Any stories about the much heralded first icefishing trip in the Squarebanks area, when spoken of, will begin that way. But it wasn't one of those trips.

At right is a picture of the state of The Soob prior to our departure for the Birch Lake area on Saturday. Quite a bit of crap stuff, eh? Well, yeah, it was.

As the forecast had called for some serious cold and there was no electricity out there, I'd worried about how we were going to start The Soob after a night spent without a plug in. After consultation with Flic, who I consult frequently on stuff like this, we settled on a solution using a portable propane heater that could be directed underneath the car to heat it up enough to start after a couple of hours, but not enough to start it on fire.

The quick and dirty:
  • Arrived at turn off to friends' cabin ~ 8:30 p.m. Dark, snowy, but definitely not colder than the minus 20s. Had headlamp and a vagueish remembrance of how far the cabin was from the road.
  • Nice event: someone pulled over to see if we were okay. Yay, proper Alaskan behavior.
  • Dog thinks this is the best trip ever.
  • Loaded up sleds, used skijoring belt reversed and started pulling wood and other gear up hill through about a foot of snow. A bit of a slog, definitely a work out, but not beyond doing.
  • One member of the party complains about very cold feet. Not willing to chance it because of the vagueness of how far we had to walk, I insist we turn around, warm up feet, change socks, sort it out.
  • Companion changes socks from COTTON to wool; discussion ensues as to the likelihood of making two trips hauling gear. After some tactful assessment of amount of stuff packed and relative fitness levels (and to be fair, one of us had been sick all week) plans to walk in are scrapped.
  • Drive back to Fairbanks.
So, no icefishing. It turns out that we were only a short distance from the turn off to the cabin, and we have yet another learning experience to keep us humble.

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