Cripple River Chronicles — Fifth Edition — July 27, 2012
8/13/2012 2:57 PM
CRIPPLE RIVER CHRONICLES
5TH Edition 27 July 2012
By Arctic Annie
Greetings from Cripple River Gold Camp, where we have had days of golden sunshine, and just enough gentle breeze to chase away the tiny flying critters!
After working hard on the beach all day it is nice to relax with a nice quiet game of ROWDY BINGO, A Cripple River Original. In this game you can talk, laugh, tease the caller, make paper airplanes out of used bingo cards (Rhoda) and fly them, or steal the pots like the Husman family. Glenn Husman from Berthoud Co., played bingo last night for the first time in over 40 years, accompanied by his sons Jason and Rodney who haven’t played for over 10 years. And NO they didn’t come to our gold camp for the BINGO! Jason, his son from Manhattan Beach Ca., saw information about this camp on T.V. on a show called “The Alaskan”, and called Glenn and Rodney and suggested they all come to Alaska. They each joined the GPAA and here they are! Jason is celebrating his 5th Anniversary Saturday, so Happy Anniversary to Jo Ann back home! Rodney, his other son is from Ft. Collins Co., and is having a birthday Fri. These non-bingo folk cleaned house---Glenn won first a five dollar game, then Rodney won the second game an eight dollar game, Jason won the fourth game for $20.00 and Glenn won the last game for a big $70.00! This family will be tried and being found guilty, hung this Friday in the saloon! As will Marci who invited them! This after just last week, when a woman from Kansas won four games all by herself, her name is being withheld as we don’t want the vigilantes after her, as she’s a lady. But vigilantes can chase down these three most current high-grader’s if they want to!
Camp is running great this year, with flour gold being found on the beach. This fine gold may be small, but it sure adds up fast. Reports from the caretaker of Ketchmark Camp Spike “there is a lot of chunkier coarse gold being found at Ketchmark, including pickers, one man even found the first nugget he has ever found in his life! This man was so happy he was whooping and hollering and dancing around!” Spike also reported that the Creosus Camp, an oldie but goodie, revamped into a sleep-0ver camp this year, is also finding nicer size coarse gold and pickers. The gold is here, if you want to work at it you will get some. How much depends on how long you are here, where you go, how smart you work, and partly on luck. This is real gold on real gold bearing land, not salted metal on a tour somewhere. So good luck out there! And if you aren’t an expert prospector don’t be shy about asking for some help in choosing an area to prospect, especially in the outer camps of Ketchmark and Creosus!
Having errands to run, and suffering from a mild case of what old time mountain men would have diagnosed as cabin fever I rode to town Saturday with my new friend Debby. The beach ride was great with the areas of red sand, then black sand, then blond sand giving a crazy quilt feel to the sea-side path, and my ATV tires smiled and sang as they threw the drier sands up into the air as we quickly rolled over them. “Wheee!” the tires cried excitedly, “This is fun!” The water was sparkling like it had diamonds on the surface---a clean clear blue on my right and the bright turquoise sky had only a small line of white clouds on the far horizon---right where the skyline kisses her loved one, the Bering Sea. The bright golden sun was shining down on a large group of white seagulls floating on the blue sea making them glow like luminescent snow balls. As the gently chuckling waves washed in and out in a gentle rhythm to and from the shore it seemed that this group of bright white birds was dancing on the blue water under the turquoise sky. Riding on, on our left side was not the blue of the sea, but the green and browns of the tundra, and over head at times, were those black and white Arctic Terns ever alert, watching that we didn’t threaten their eggs or young. ATV’S weaving in and out on the beach, dodging straggly shaped pieces of driftwood (that looks like a seal, that like a dragon’s head and wings, and look there’s an owl---no it’s a cat curled up asleep) oops, don’t forget to watch for large rocks, I could feel my tight muscles relax. I took deep breathfuls of that tangy yet fresh salt air and re-charged my lungs, and my soul. What a perfect day! Deb and I stopped many times to check on things we saw, and pick up rocks and wood, and then we were at the jetty. With a sigh of almost sadness it was back to reality and our “to do lists”.
Fishing continues to be fantastic for Pink Salmon, but the Silver Salmon still are not coming in. The Kenai Silver Salmon season has been cancelled due to a “dismal run” to quote Alaska Game and Fish Authorities, but that does not affect the Nome area or Cripple River. Chum Salmon that the natives use to feed their dog sled teams also called “dog salmon” are catch and release for us. The dog sled teams eat such a high calorie diet that they would starve to death on any commercial dog food, and the “dog salmon” are what they need to survive and work in the long, dark cold winter up here! Some people still prefer dog sleds to snowmobiles, “the dog sleds don’t get lost, you can curl up with a dog in an emergency and not freeze, and if you are bad hurt you can get in the sled and the dogs will take you home, try that with a machine, and gasoline is over $5.00 a gallon here!” was the answer given by one old timer by the name of Pauli (on the Nome Beach) when asked last week. Several of his buddies agreed, one or two didn’t and I left to the gentle sounds of disagreement! Oh well, I’m sure they had a perfectly delightful discussion.
Back on the home camp front here’s another one of Chip’s fabulous recipes that’s so often requested:
Swiss Vegetable Casserole
1 can-10 ¾ oun crm of mushroom soup 1/3 c. sour cream
¼ tsp black pepper 1 16oz bag frozen veggies
1 can 2.3 0z French Onions (broccoli-cauliflower- ½ cup Shredded Swiss Cheese carrots)
Combine all the ingredients except for the French onions, into a lightly oiled casserole dish, smooth out, sprinkle the Onions on the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve hot!
Now I have a suggestion for all you prospectors out there that may seem simple, put your name on your snuffer bottle! Most miners are honest folk, and every year several snuffer bottles with varying amounts of gold inside manage to get lost. Even I can identify your snuffer bottle, sight unseen, let’s see “it’s round, whitish plastic and has some gold and maybe a little black sand in the bottom.” How did I do? If your name is on the bottle, and it is turned in, you will get it back. Furthermore, people are more likely to turn in items that they know belong to an identifiable person. You work hard for your gold, so be smart too. If you are like me and can’t write, have a friend write your name on your bottle for you!
This is a sad story, four people lost $100,000.00 at the Sinuk River recently on a Tuesday ATV trip (Sinuk is pronounced Sen-nick) led by Ron McKee and ‘Little John’ Elander from Arroyo Grande Ca., and Linda & Wayne Lavigne from Sanford Me. Now this, very nice lady, was soon to find out where she stands in the scheme of things! She was happily fishing, hoping to add a nice salmon to the bucket of fish to be waiting to be invited back to the campfire for lunch. As the main entrée not as guests. She hooked a real beauty and reeled it in, but soon found the hook was really stuck in the fish. Wayne her 6’2” tall loving spouse hurried to her aid and bending over tried to remove the hook. The hook popped out and the slippery salmon jumped out of hubby’s hands landing on the sand fighting to get back into the water. To block its escape Linda quickly ran behind her husband, and one foot landed off the bank in the water and loose sand and this leg sank hip boot and all, up to the knee! Now poor Linda is tilted at a very dangerous angle, so to keep from falling into the fast ice cold water of the Sinuk River she grabbed the belt loops of her husband’s pants, which caused his pants to start to fall down! As she struggled to stay partly upright and on dry land she yelled in desperation to her husband, “help me, I’m going to fall in the water!” Her husband yelled back tersely, “I can either save this fish or you!” and he continues to grab for the fish!!! Doc McKee hero of the hour, reached out one big strong hand and pulled a teetering Linda back to safety, saying “I wish I had had a video recorder this is just too funny”! And for lack of a video recorder $100,000.00 was lost from America’s Funniest Video Show, as this tape would have been a definite shoe-in for first place! Linda and Wayne will be here for all eight weeks, and she explained,” I am glad we came for the season, we have plenty of time to ‘do it all’ or try to. If there is some bad weather, we can rest and relax. We have gone to Nome and toured the area, worked on our beach claim, worked the common operation, explored Creosus on an ATV, and we plan to do more! Our hooch mates have been wonderful, the first two weeks were from Texas, the next two weeks from Kentucky, and we made four new friends, we gave each other our addresses and phone numbers, and we will keep in touch now, learning about each others lives was great.”
The adventure will just get better for fine folks like Linda and Wayne, who seem to take a great attitude with them everywhere they go! Not all hooch mates get this friendly, but many people make new life-long friendships here. Not all the gold you find in our camp is the metal variety.
The weather changes here at the drop of a hat, and Mother Nature dropped one, the nice weather has changed to a real rainstorm, with high surf! If you wanted rad waves, and had a thick wet suit, you could probably start a new reality T.V. show Surfing for Gold in Alaska! Might catch on, you never know. Think Outdoor Channel might be interested?
And speaking about that golden metal with the symbol AU, that reminds me that I was supposed to pan some material today, and I’m anxious to see how much of that gold stuff is in there, so until next week, May you life and the bottom of you pan turn golden!