the animal's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

I don't think many know it in complete detail, but they have a simple realization that there is good traction. I'm very curious about all things Alaska. It's helped me out quite a bit working as a tour guide in the area. From what I've found, this seems to be a good strategy to follow for any job. If you have at least a decent employer, it's recognized. And for the non employment realms, the old timers/almost old timers are willing to share knowledge about the lifestyle, areas etc. So I've learned to shut up and listen. :)

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

The more time I spend using things with motorized engines the less I find that I enjoy them. Chainsaws, generators and cars to name a few. They’re loud, wasteful, require almost as much time as the non motorized alternative and are prone to break down. I think that buying a car was a mistake. I don’t really enjoy having it. It’s a money sink. $300+ for registration, taxes and transfer of title, $220 for 6 months of insurance and that’s just the base level. We are supposedly getting cell phone service in the area in a month or so. If that ends up proving true, I’ll probably sell the van at the end of the summer. The only thing I use it for now is to go to the other town in the area to socialize and use the internet. Costs to travel to the big city are less than the yearly costs of owning a car. I’d like to be able to function without a generator but that doesn’t seem possible in my current setup. There’s 3 months of the year there’s not enough light for solar power. During that time, with my low electrical usage I need to run the generator only for about 15-20 hours. That’s equivalent to roughly $40 worth of fuel. I’ve concluded that at that price it’s probably worth it to suck it up and deal with it. I am trying to educate myself on the topic and become more skilled. Outside of my regular use and maintenance, I am currently studying an Automotive Mechanics texbook. It's really helped me actually somewhat conceptualize how these things actually work.

That being said, I acknowledge that if a dislike for motor engines is the height of my problems, things are going pretty well. And indeed they are! In the first week of January I drove back to my cabin from Chicago. That was my first time travelling through the Northern US, oops I mean Canada. I really enjoyed the Alcan Highway. The mountains are immense and right up to the road in many instances. There wasn’t much visible wildlife, outside of a few hundred buffalo next to the road. For those of you who like to take long road trips, that’s one to add to the list. You’re probably better off going in summer though, you’ll be able to do much more (unless you’re looking to do any winter sports).

The second half of winter has been enjoyable so far. The sun returned the day after I returned, rising above the horizon for 6 minutes. Now the sun is visible for about 3 hours and up above the horizon for about 5.5. As of this past week, my batteries received their first charge from the sun! I find it exciting, even though it only amounts to 2-3 amps per day right now (enough to power my lights for 2-6 hours depending on usage). There was a week in mid-January where 5 of the 7 days were -40 degrees F or colder. It really wasn’t that bad as long as the wind wasn’t blowing, then it became painful.

Otherwise my days have been action packed for the past month. I’ve made moose jerky a few times, drying the meat over the stove. I’m writing almost every day and will be uploading those essays to a new blog. It’s less outdoor adventure focused and more focused on the lifestyle. I picked up studying Mandarin again and have been practicing that daily. Add on top of those meditating, skiing, walks, playing the ukulele, thinking and reading and my days are full.

I’ve also been working to start a business for the summer season. It is tour based, involves essentially minimal starting costs and is local. It’d be really great if I can achieve success with this. I also have some people that have expressed interest in me leading them as a guide for a backpacking trip in the area. I’m holding out hope that both of these work out. Furthermore, I've reached a tentative agreement with a local restaurant to provide greens for them in the summer season. These three on top of hopefully getting some essays or articles published would provide for a decent variety of income streams.

I read ERE again last week. It really does get better with each read. I believe that was my third reading. I have continually found that alternatives to things I think of purchasing can be made or found in my local environment. Examples: Drying racks for making jerky. Make one with wood or hang a stick up across the woodstove as a drying rack. Pull up bar: Climb a tree, find a branch on a tree, use a log to make a pull up bar and install in house. These are just a few basic things but I find that it holds true quite often. It reestablishes the necessity of being skilled to make use of your environment. For me, the top skills that would drastically improve my quality of life would be bushcraft and woodworking. I intend to pursue those starting immediately.

Image
The Sun Returns

Image
45 Below

[url=https://flic.kr/p/QEvgaJ]Image

Mountains near my town

Image
From yesterday evening's ski

halfmoon
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon »

Love the evening ski photo. It looks as though someone's using a snowmobile on your ski trail, though. How rude. ;)

Dragline
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Dragline »

Nice photos. The "return of the sun" must be kind of momentous.

cmonkey
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by cmonkey »

Regarding gas powered *anything*, I agree. I decided this year that I wasn't going to hook up my snowblower on my small tractor anymore. It's a giant hassle to put on and I have to use gas as well. Plus it doesn't do as good of a job It's much easier to just shovel! It's good exercise too. I might sell the snowblower attachment in a few years if I still feel the same way.

How warm does your cabin stay when it's that cold outside?

Hoosier Daddy
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Hoosier Daddy »

This may be a stupid question (probably is): how do you ski on flat land? You just keep pushing yourself? Can you go very fast doing that?

Let us know when you start the new blog; can't wait to check it out! - I believe you used to have a separate blog, right? Will the new blog be at the same address?

dlm09
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by dlm09 »

Hoosier Daddy wrote:This may be a stupid question (probably is): how do you ski on flat land? You just keep pushing yourself? Can you go very fast doing that?
Cross-country https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-country_skiing

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason »

Wow. This is some really Grizzly Adams shit right here (minus the false accusation of murder).

Very impressive.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks for the nice comments.

@halfmoon- It makes for better skiing, I'm not complaining. :D

@Dragline- I find there is definitely a greater appreciation of it here than most other places. Everyone goes out to watch the sun crest above the horizon on the first couple days. Staring directly at the sun.

@Cmonkey- I enjoyed shoveling driveways at night. Nice and quiet. You're right that it makes for good exercise.

The cabin stays plenty warm. This past Friday, Sat and Sun were -35,-40,-40 respectively. I just open up the flue on the woodstove a little more and use a little more wood. I don't have a thermometer but I'd guess the inside temp is in the low 60s. It could easily go much higher. It helps that living area is 144 sq ft. Furthermore, I have the cabin banked up to the top of the logs on the sides with snow. Besides openings for the windows, it's pretty close to an igloo. The only problem I have is a small addition a previous resident left unfinished. He did a terrible job with what he did do and I lose a lot of heat through that. I'm hoping to get permission to demolish that. :)

@Hoosier Daddy- Cross country skiing is propelled forward by a kicking motion, like you're kicking a soccer ball. On a compacted trail, they're great. Someone with good technique and in decent shape can move 5-7 mph. There are other techniques that allow you to go faster, mainly for those racing, but they are much more exhausting. Breaking trail and with a pack, the going is much slower. Up here more so than some other places because we don't have layers in the snow. Every step brings your ski/foot right to the bottom.

The blog is up and I have a few posts added. I'm planning on putting out 2/week as of now. You can find it at http://www.arcticessays.wordpress.com

@Jason- Ah thanks. It's probably looks much more impressive than it actually is.
Last edited by theanimal on Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

WashingtonIrving
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by WashingtonIrving »

Hey man it's your pal R. How are things? Looking forward to spring? Also I think you told me you were taking up trapping, how has that been working out? Any new lessons from that neighbor? Looking forward to updates and any photos here since my days of living vicariously through you via facebook are over. Still charging ahead with programming here, got a new laptop so I can stop stealing the lady's gear. Had to liquidate a small investment and it still stings to dip into possible future returns like that. Stocks have been up up up since November, I'm interested to see how markets react to the administration when policies actually start coming down the pipe though(30% border tax can't be good for business). Anyways keep up the good work and we'll be in touch soon, looking forward to your posts as the weather starts to change!
-R

Seppia
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Seppia »

Awesome as always!
I have subscribed to your blog, allow me a suggestion: MORE PICS!
Your pics are astounding, you should have as many of them as possible.

Jake9870
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jake9870 »

Where to start..

@Animal, your journal is a work of art, really.. I'm sure you're getting quite the big head with all these compliments :), but they are very deserved. Your accomplishments are inspiring. I
I'd like to mention your 53 hour run (seriously??) and becoming one with the Alaskan bush people ;) ..

But what stands out the most to me is how dynamic you and your journal have been. The lightyears you've grown in A short time.. The maturity your writing shows now. Just,
Thank you for the great read!

Some slight connections:

You attended Miami of Oxford in Ohio? I grew up in/around Cincinnati and have family in Oxford as well as many, many friends who have gone/are attending uni there.

I moved to Bozeman, Montana three years ago and while not nearly as rural as where you are I feel the culture shock of both living here, visiting the VERY rural parts of MT, and going back to a city. I have so much to say about this place and the contrast of life.

I am also (from what I can tell) one of the younger members of the forum at 21.

@Jacob

The more meaningful posessions I've come across in life have always been second hand with an attached story. Usually coming from a close friend, or loved one. Glad to see this thought is universal.

....

I was apprehensive to post for a few reasons. First and foremost this is my first forum that I've come back to for more than just a few laughs i.e. Reddit.. This group of people, this concept of an alternative, more fulfilling, and grounding lifestyle has been toying with my thoughts since I stumbled upon the site in early January. I haven't read Jacob's book so I'm unprepared, but I thought this would be a good time to jump in.

Well, it's 4 AM for me now after reading the latest bits of Animal's journal and finishing my rant. Sorry for anyone who actually reads all this!

I'll be posting a journal at some point I think, but next time not on a smart phone! Apologies to Animal for hijackng your space :)

Cheers everyone,

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

You can find it at arcticessays.wordpress.com
The link to your blog in your earlier post is broken. You have to put the "http://www." in the link or it won't work. http://www.arcticessays.wordpress.com

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@WI- No trapping on my end. I've gone with neighbors out to individual traps including one instance a few weeks ago where they caught a wolverine. Upon being trapped, a wolverine will tear up the surrounding brush and even chew at its leg to get free. With this in mind, we raced to get out there, not knowing whether or not it would still be there. It was and was killed. After that, we discovered that it had only had one toe caught in the trap. I have mixed feelings about the whole experience and trapping in general. I've only seen one other wolverine otherwise, a quick glimpse while on a hike this past October. Many consider themselves lucky to see one in a lifetime.

@Seppia- Thank you! I'll certainly make an effort to add more pictures.

@Jake- Welcome! And thanks for your kind words. ERE and this forum certainly deserve a lot of the credit in helping shape who I am today. It's great to see another younger person on the forums..I'll keep an eye out for your journal.

@GdP- Fixed. Thanks.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Days are getting brighter and brighter. I've hinted to it elsewhere or mentioned it indirectly, but light takes on a greater significance here than I've found everywhere else. Due to the extremes no doubt and the always changing nature. Winter lacks the sun but has beautiful twilight and auroral displays. Summer has the endless light. Right now is a blend of both. 13 hours of light/day and bright auroral displays at night. We are still in our winter season here. This past week saw 3 nights drop below -40 degrees F. The days would warm up to a balmy (I say this somewhat seriously) -10 F. As the singer Johnny Horton once said, "When it's springtime in Alaska it's 40 below..." Warmer days are ahead.

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Skiing on the river

My days have been blending into a routine of exercising, skiing, learning and reading. I have lots and lots of free time. I was somewhat dissatisfied with the last update I wrote where I portrayed myself as being very busy and full of activity. People who say they are always busy often annoy me, as they either aren't and are doing it for status purposes and/or are mismanaging their priorities. My sin is likely that of the former. Forgive me brethren!

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Winter version of my cabin.

I'm still working on trying to get a tourism based business started up here for the summer. It has proven to be pretty difficult to do without easy access to reliable, fast internet so i'm likely going to have to make a trip into town over the next couple weeks. Other income opportunities keep popping up. I was offered a job working at a small local mine over the summer, and can make it permanent if I want. $20-25/hr work as many or little days as I choose. As of now, I'm thinking of pursuing it a couple of days each week. I don't have any interest in the permanent position as I don't have any desire to do any underground work. A neighbor is wondering if I'm interested in cutting a couple cords of wood for them, with more work available down the line. One of the local bed and breakfast's has guests in the summer that are looking for a private guided tour of the area. They referred them to me. Income opportunities keep sprouting up. I'm still not sure which I'll pursue, but this money thing is seemingly becoming more and more like Jacob's tap water analogy.

Otherwise not much is new. In early April, I'm participating in the winter version of the race I did this past summer. I'll be travelling on skis and over a longer route. I'm looking forward to the challenge and the chance to meet more people with similar interests. After that I have one last winter trip planned to climb a remote mountain with some friends in the area. April should be nice.

Image
Neighbor's guest cabin in evening twilight

Over the past 8-9 months I've been wrestling with the question of location. I love the area I live in. The environment I live in is near pristine and the views are remarkable just outside the front door of my cabin. I know the history well and have developed a relationship with the area and its inhabitants. Yet, there seems to be something missing. I don't think I'm currently able to live the life I desire to live. My best experiences over the past few years have been the wilderness trips I've done. That's the stuff I live for and wish to do frequently. But I have found that, at least in the winter months, I do not have the motivation to do these trips by myself and do not enjoy them. With such a small population in the area, there isn't anyone who is interested in doing what I wish to do. One of the things I find sad and perplexing about Alaska is that often the people living in the most beautiful places (rural and remote areas) are the least likely to explore them, and if they do it is often solely by motor.

I don't think trips are the only thing though. A girlfriend would be nice and the selection is non existent up here. I sometimes also wonder if I'm limiting myself by living secluded in my early 20s, I think this is a time when many my age don't have the commitments and are more willing to make friends then later on with a spouse, kids and/or increased focus on career. Dick Proenneke told those in their early 20s that wrote him about wanting to pursue his lifestyle that they were crazy and should wait until 50. That may be a bit extreme but I think the point stands.

Its with all this in mind that I've been bouncing back and forth where to live. An urban area isn't particularly appealing for many reasons, but I don't think I can develop the community that I am seeking up here. Of course, it isn't a dichotomy. I have thought of doing both (there ya go Dragline ;) ). Maybe something like the bright 6-8 months in the wilderness and the dark/cold 4-6 in the city. I'm not entirely sure. But this has been causing me some mental anguish and a feeling that I need to do something. Otherwise, it just seems like time keeps passing me by without me accomplishing what I want to accomplish.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Your life right now looks really interesting, thanks for sharing the pics.

It's great you got to see a wolverine though it sounds like the circumstances sucked. Trapping is disgusting and unsportsmanlike.

Subscribed to your blog.

AussieGirl
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AussieGirl »

Hi animal,
I've read your journal from the start with some interest. I'm a bit older and would like to offer some perspective, which you can take or leave as you like. I'm married and have two kids. For me all three are an amazing source of joy and meaning. A family is not easier but for me the challenge, opportunity and delight is worth it. Just as you may find a relationship is. Although it would be something that you would need to give time to finding the right thing for you. Working out the right level of give and take. I still haven't got it worked out, but open communication keeps the discovery going. The 20s are an amazing time for discovery and I think setting yourself up for that and more social mixing is great. Bigger cities and towns offer it, but it can take a while to find a group that suits you and make the connections that work for you. A balance between what you know and love and new discovery seems a great idea. Just don't expect it to be amazing on day one. It can take some time. Let me know if you have any specific questions further to my more general thoughts above.
Good luck!

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@GdP- Thanks for reading.
I had the same stance you do with regards to trapping, still do with regards to a lot of it. My view softened a bit after gaining exposure to people who trapped and learning more about the history. I find it makes much more sense historically then it does today. Now people mainly just do it for recreation, which is kind of sick if you think about it. The same people who denounce sport hunting are going out trapping essentially for sport. In the past, trapping was really the only source of income up here. There were essentially no other options. That is nowhere near the case today. There is significant skill involved in catching a wolf, but for other animals not so much. I've contemplated doing it before, but can't find anyway to really justify it. I can find other sources of income, I don't think I'd like killing the animals for fur and I don't like the waste. Lynx can be eaten (rarely done anymore in this area), but wolf, wolverine, marten and fox are just used for fur or as bait in other traps. So ya, i guess I'm not much of a fan. Especially adding the fact that all use snowmachines to travel, which I despise.

@Aussiegirl- I appreciate your input. I figure it's going to take time to build relationships wherever I am. Certainly much longer in my current area though than in an urban environment (in terms of people outside the community). Experimenting with something like this isn't permanent, I could always go back to what I'm doing now if I desired. The social mixing and discovery you mention is something that's been on my mind recently. Still pondering my options.

Dragline
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Dragline »

theanimal wrote: I don't think trips are the only thing though. A girlfriend would be nice and the selection is non existent up here. I sometimes also wonder if I'm limiting myself by living secluded in my early 20s, I think this is a time when many my age don't have the commitments and are more willing to make friends then later on with a spouse, kids and/or increased focus on career. Dick Proenneke told those in their early 20s that wrote him about wanting to pursue his lifestyle that they were crazy and should wait until 50. That may be a bit extreme but I think the point stands.

Its with all this in mind that I've been bouncing back and forth where to live. An urban area isn't particularly appealing for many reasons, but I don't think I can develop the community that I am seeking up here. Of course, it isn't a dichotomy. I have thought of doing both (there ya go Dragline ;) ). Maybe something like the bright 6-8 months in the wilderness and the dark/cold 4-6 in the city. I'm not entirely sure. But this has been causing me some mental anguish and a feeling that I need to do something. Otherwise, it just seems like time keeps passing me by without me accomplishing what I want to accomplish.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.
Well, my brother wanted to move to Alaska at your age, but settled for Western Montana and has been pretty happy living there. He works in Missoula, which is a college town, but frequently runs off into the mountains whenever he wants to be alone.

It's certainly not as wild and remote, but there are a lot of places to go in the wilderness around there if you want, including areas near Glacier in the north and Yellowstone in the south, and the Lolo National Forest and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness just across the Idaho border in the panhandle.

I also have a niece in Juneau. She is about your age and most recently was leading tours to the Mendenhall Glacier, or what is left of it. But I think she has a boyfriend . . . ;)

Jake9870
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jake9870 »

@Dragline
Missoula Is a fantastic mix of a small city and the nature around it. I frequently go up there for weekend trips. Western Montana is a great place for the mixing of both environments. Iive in Bozeman which is the other college town. If you're looking for a blend of both people/ social aspects and outdoor recreation/ independence Western college towns have always looked to me as great places to live.

I've been going around Lolo once every year. Lots of clothing optional natural hot springs ;)

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