Tok Alaska

The Rest of the Story which began back in 2007

By: 3mileSubTok, 3:31 PM GMT on March 07, 2013

Date of event leading up to this March 8 2007
My Name is Sharon Bissell Eddy. I have since this story remarried and divorces one man. Even though it isnt important to this story, I felt it was important to mention it. The current Date is March 7, 2013.


When things go wrong in the wilds of Alaska

This my recollection of a time in my life that has caused me the think of what can happen out in the wilds of Alaska.

Im sure there are many other things we could mention when we are talking about spending time in the wilds of Alaska. The most important thing is to remember we arent promised the next second of life and thinking of worst case situation, what happens if you were to fall ill or get seriously hurt out there? We do not live in fear but, trust in the Lord to get us through each and everyday.

We hope that every season is filled with only fun, but we are speaking from experience having trouble in the wilds....Let me tell you my experience from this and I dont mean to tell you this to make you feel bad but, show you exactly what I mean. So sit back and read while I recall my life moment. This is to share what I mean by not being promised the next moment of life.........Living life in the wilds of Alaska.

This is my 4th marriage. The moment in my life I recall is with my 3rd now late husband. We were cat miners or miners who used equipment on the ground to recover gold. They call us CAT Miners.....maybe you already know this. This is a rather long story but, it is a way for me not to let his memory die.

We were mining back in a section call the Ladue River Drainage Area and more specifically Liberty Creek. We had tried since 2001 to get back to a section call the Sixtymile River. This was a ruthless trail back in the bush. Although on the map it was only 6miles off the beaten trail. Anyway with many attempt to get back to this area where too, we had purchased a trapline and it had a trapping cabin on it so it was inviting to go back there because of the cabin. The year in recall is fall of 2006. We along with out mining buddy had clear one acre of land for the coming year. We had 4 ft of overburden on the acre of ground which so happens had a creek running through it. We need to have this all set so we would be ready to harvest the gold out of the paydirt in the Spring 2007.

Well, anyway our season was done and all set for late June and July. We are so far down in the valley that the water doesnt start to thaw till this time of the year. We left our mining buddy who always winters back here at his mine. All was good and now this is late september 2006. We got back to the house and unloaded everything from camping and soon this adventure would be a memory. I had kept a journal of this time but I will not share it with you as it would make the story so much longer than it already is.

One morning in late October the phone rang, and to our surprise it was our mining buddy. This was strange to us but too, he had to come out for the last of his winter supplies we were commenting to each other then later we found out that he has received a clatter from his family that his mother who lived in Minnesota was expected to passaway soon and that he needed to come out of the mine and get down there to see her before she passed. That is why our mining partner had called. Our mining buddy left Tok for Anchorage to get on plane and get to his mothers bedside. This again, is late October 2006.

We hadnt heard anything from our mining partner since he left Alaska until the end of February 2007. Now had this been mining season that our partner had received his new of his mother health I am sorry to say, he wouldnt have gotten the message. Our mining partner is a real addict when it comes to running his mining operation. He wife says that the act of mining for him is his mistress. If you were back there watching him and seeing the hours his stays on that dragline you would know that is true..

Our call from our partner came on the 25th of February. He was calling from Anchorage and told us the news of his mothers passing. He as Jim(my now late husband) that he would be coming back into to Tok but that he had a problem. In his attempt to get out of his mine quickly and get to his mother he had not thought her passing would have taken as long as it did. Or mining partner was thankful for this time with his mother and I remind you of the statement his mistress. If she had fallen ill for certain he wouldnt have been on that dragline and not received his message.

For our partner the month of June and July are extremely busy for him. So had that message came at that time he would have missed it.

Back to the call. Our partner had stressed to Jim that when he had gotten the message about his mother he had thrown everything up in his cache and left without his snowshoes and had no idea that it would be March before he would get back in there and now that he was back and ready to get on the road he had no means to travel other than by foot.

Jim was very good friends with our partner. Jim had always had a heart of gold and would give you the shirt off his back if he thought for a moment you needed it. Our partner didnt have to ask us about taking him in there as it was already in the process.

Jim was making preparations for our mining partner to get back to Tok from Anchorage. That is a 6 to 8 hour trip depending on the driver. He arrived the next morning and Jim had already prepared our snowmachines to go back to the mine. Our partner lives some 25 miles off the main drag or highway on a private road he built some 30 years ago. For the distance traveled you would not believe the people that do show up back there.

This is March 7, 2007. This is the time of year when we have the regular snowmachine run or poker run to Dawson City, Yukon Territory. This is also the time of year when you hear Johnny Horton singing the song "When it's Springtime in Alaska it's 40 below," and here this particular year it was -50 and colder.

Jim had thought it would be a great time to follow the snowmachiners to Boundary Alaska, where they would continue on and we would take a detour. The snow machine run has sweepers who travel back behind the snowmachiners so if someone has trouble they would be there to help them. We know most all the main people, sweepers so that wasnt a problem for them for us to follow.

By the morning of the 8th we were aready to leave with 3 snowmachines all loaded up . One was pulling a sled with all the food and provisions we would need to finish the cold winter out back there. Our plans were to spend the remainder of winter back there and see the ice go out of the creeks and streams. And start mining that acre of ground we had waiting for us from the past fall.

At a whopping -55 below zero we headed out from Tok with the Alaska Trail Blazers Trek Over The Top snow machiners. This particular morning there were those who were not successful in getting their machines started so they were left behind in Tok. If they got their machine started in a reasonable amount of time they would head out to catch up with the rest of the group and Jim and I heading towards the Canadian Border.

This was a beautiful morning with sunshine and crystal blue sky for days. I had been with Jim on the Taylor Highwaybefore with Jim, trying to get back to that infamous trapping cabin on the Sixtymile River. On that trip again there was 3 of us with provisions for the winter back at the cabin but the trip ended due to the lack of snow on the road crossing the Canadian Border. It was fun going though. Somewhere in my pictures I have the shots I took of that memoriable day.

Jim, Our Mining Partner and myself was moving along quiet well. No problems to mention and was going on without a hitch. I cant say I had ever seen the sceenery so beautiful. Mile after mile opportunity after opportunity to snap a shot. I was being selfish though as I took no pictures until we got to Chicken at the now old Gold Panner owned by Bronk Jorgenson. Bronk had built the now famous largest building in Chicken Alaska. He has a very nice gift shop there and was eager to accommidate us on our stop.

We filled our gas tanks and preceeded on the Taylor Highway. We had stopped to take pictures of the old Jack Wade Dredge which now is only a memory in our picture world and memories in history. Snow covered and standing like a monument. I hate they dismantled it but, BLM or the State was afraid of the public climbing over the fence to get pictures. It was a liability they felt they could live without.

We finally made it to Boundary Alaska. It was getting late in the evening and the temp had warmed to a warmer -40. The sun was going down so the temp would be dropping back down in the -50 range. Jim and Our mining partner decided we would not try to go back on the trail to his mine at this later time in the evening. We would be caught traveling in the darkness on the mountain back there. It was hard enough just getting back there in the daylight. So waiting till morning was a good decision.

Jim was 22 years older than me and we never really made that a difference in our lives. He was a kind man and was always there to help someone in need. That is how I came to know him better and ending up marrying him December 25, 2000. Christmas Day. It was a simple wedding in our little community of Tok, Alaska. Jim had just enrolled me in a truck driving school so I could be his team driver and he would not be leaving me in Tok in the dead of winter alone. Jim and I drove some 250,000 mile and almost 5 years of our lives together as truck drivers. He tought me so much about driving a big truck and I am thankful for that time in my life with him.

So Friday Morning came and the morning was beautiful. Blue sky for as far as the eye could see. There was a parahelia or a ring around the sun. It was -40 and very cold. The date is March 9, 2007 and a cold -40 with the wind blowing made it necessary to cancel going into the mine yet another day. Our mining partner had commented to Jim that he didnt look so good. Jim had commented "Yea, I think I am coming down with that bug that everyone else had had." I looked at Jim and sure enough he looked kinda ashened(white or pale) in the face. Usually when we made a trip it usually took Jim a full day to recoop so I just brushed that off as one of those times. We sat around at Boundary Alaska with the family that lived there and was waiting for the last flight of the mail plane from Tok. They were cancelling all mail deliveries to the remote area of Alaska for the lack of money and mail to justify the service.

We heard the mail plane approaching and Jim went outside to greet the pilot as he was a old friend of his. Jim had worked for them when he first came to Tok as a mechanic and had flown with them in the Civil Air Patrol. I watched out the window as they were walking in and had snapped a picture of the two of them walking towards the cabin where we all were waiting inside. They came in and the pilot got the bag of mail and said goodbye and left. Little did the pilot know that later he would be flying his long time friend home for the last time.

Lana, the mother; and I went into the kitchen and cooked supper and prepared the 4 children for bed. The two had raised these children out here in the wilds of Alaska and had done a good job. This is another story.

During the passing of the night, I had talked with Lana about their computer and found their connection to the internet wasnt working and I had tried to fix it but they had a apple computer and I wasnt at all familar with those types of computers unlike the IBM compatible ones I had built many times over. So it was late in the night so Jim and I went over to the honeymoon cabin across the road and Jim built a nice kozy fire and we snuggled up together and the night passed rapidly. I awoke to Jim coming in with me a hot cup of coffee. We started our day and got dressed went across the street to the main cabin and Jim said we would for certain be outa here.

Jim told me to fix two thermos's of coffee and be ready to get out of there at 12 noon sharp. I did so and we left at 12:05pm. It was a balmy -10 outside but the snow was blowing so bad we couldnt see in front of us. This was my first real adventure on a snow machine out in the wilds of Alaska. I had been following Jim on the road and for the most part it was clean trail all the way. I was riding a Yamaha 500 Venture which was not a trail breaking machine. We were fixing to turn off the main road and get into some real riding. Our mining partner was following me with really no clue how to do this either. All the years of his travel back into this God forsaken land had been on foot and alone. Now Ole stood about 6'7" and in one stride alone he could step a mile or it seemed that way. Ole couldnt fit a helmet on so we made do with a pair of snow goggles and couple of warm hats. This is how he chose to go in there. We had no other choice or options as he needed to get back into the mind he had left in late October.

At this stage it had been 104 miles of comfort and fun. Now the real work for us was about to comense.

So Friday Morning came and the morning was beautiful. Blue sky for as far as the eye could see. There was a parahelia or a ring around the sun. It was -40 and very cold. The date is March 9, 2007 and a cold -40 with the wind blowing made it necessary to cancel going into the mine yet another day. Our mining partner had commented to Jim that he didnt look so good. Jim had commented "Yea, I think I am coming down with that bug that everyone else had had." I looked at Jim and sure enough he looked kinda ashened(white or pale) in the face. Usually when we made a trip it usually took Jim a full day to recoop so I just brushed that off as one of those times. We sat around at Boundary Alaska with the family that lived there and was waiting for the last flight of the mail plane from Tok. They were cancelling all mail deliveries to the remote area of Alaska for the lack of money and mail to justify the service.

We heard the mail plane approaching and Jim went outside to greet the pilot as he was a old friend of his. Jim had worked for them when he first came to Tok as a mechanic and had flown with them in the Civil Air Patrol. I watched out the window as they were walking in and had snapped a picture of the two of them walking towards the cabin where we all were waiting inside. They came in and the pilot got the bag of mail and said goodbye and left. Little did the pilot know that later he would be flying his long time friend home for the last time.

Lana, the mother; and I went into the kitchen and cooked supper and prepared the 4 children for bed. The two had raised these children out here in the wilds of Alaska and had done a good job. This is another story.

During the passing of the night, I had talked with Lana about their computer and found their connection to the internet wasnt working and I had tried to fix it but they had a apple computer and I wasnt at all familar with those types of computers unlike the IBM compatible ones I had built many times over. So it was late in the night so Jim and I went over to the honeymoon cabin across the road and Jim built a nice kozy fire and we snuggled up together and the night passed rapidly. I awoke to Jim coming in with me a hot cup of coffee. We started our day and got dressed went across the street to the main cabin and Jim said we would for certain be outa here.

Jim told me to fix two thermos's of coffee and be ready to get out of there at 12 noon sharp. I did so and we left at 12:05pm. It was a balmy -10 outside but the snow was blowing so bad we couldnt see in front of us. This was my first real adventure on a snow machine out in the wilds of Alaska. I had been following Jim on the road and for the most part it was clean trail all the way. I was riding a Yamaha 500 Venture which was not a trail breaking machine. We were fixing to turn off the main road and get into some real riding. Our mining partner was following me with really no clue how to do this either. All the years of his travel back into this God forsaken land had been on foot and alone.

Now Ole stood about 6'7" and in one stride alone he could step a mile or it seemed that way. Ole couldnt fit a helmet on so we made do with a pair of snow goggles and couple of warm hats. This is how he chose to go in there. We had no other choice or options as he needed to get back into the mind he had left in late October. Oh yea, Ole was legally blind. He has tunnel vision. This didnt stop the need though. There was a fear the bears had discovered Ole's absence and taken advantage of it ramsacking his cabin. That was the thinking anyway. At this stage it had been 104 miles of comfort and fun. Now the real work for us was about to start.

I wasnt prepared at all for what changes in my life were about to take place. My life as I had know it was going to change forever.

We meandered on the road or winter foot trail that Ole knew like the back of his hand. Only now he was doing this by snowmachine. He and I both were green to this way of travel. Jim had told us the story of his travels back here in this country and getting in a drift so deep he feared he would surely die trying to climb out of it. Needless to say by the grace of God above he got out and home.

Jim and I had take another road trip with a another friend of ours and we made it to the Canadian Border where we had been riding up on top of a 25 or 30ft snow drift. He didnt dare tell me this till after we had come back across it and heading back to Tok. Things never seemed that bad till after the dangers were gone.

We took our turn down off the the main road and down down down we traveled one behind the other. The three of us went. Suddenly there was open water and it was only a small section Jim told me to go and not let off the throttle till I had past this section. I did as I was told and up the mountain down in the valley's over the frozen creeks and miles and miles we traveled. We came down across and by Jim Tress's and onward we went. Up Up Up and now we were gaining on the blowing storm we had left at Boundary. The higher we went the more we could see.

We stopped many times along the way to check the sled and make necessary adjustment to the load. Finally we came up on top of the world it seemed. We stopped and looked behind us and there was like a curtain hanging where the blowing snow was and the sunshine started. It was like night and day. In front was the sun and behind was the night. We were making our way up to the top of Mount Witherspoon.

In the summer time when we would travel back here in the truck I always dreaded this section as it was covered with shell rock which allowed you to slide and it always gave me a uneasy feeling. I was able to not give it a thought with this snow machine. It went right up without hesitation. Up up up and on the top I stopped and got sideways. Jim came back to where I had fell in the drift and told me now he was going to show me how to keep from getting boogered up again. He showed me how to ride side saddle. I never had a problem again.

We reached what they refer to as the saddle of Mount Witherspoon which means a straight section on top of the mountain. We stopped and I got my camera out of my warm spot and snapped pictures quickly at -10 it would drain my battery so I did this in a hurry. It was I suppose around 1pm. I looked ahead at the trail and it seemed like forever. On and on we went. Till we stopped again. This time Jim was ahead and he got off his machine and something didnt seem right as I watched him. Then all of the sudden he started to fall to the ground. I ran to him in this snow and in my bunny boots that made me even slower. I managed to catch his head before it hit the machine. We both landed on the ground. This was all of 3 seconds.........I looked at Jim and he was smiling and looking into heaven!!!! He was gone! 3 seconds to say I love you and all was changed. I heard his last breath. I tried to do CPR to no avail I could hear the water in his chest. Massive heart attack. He died at 1:15pm on the top of Mount Witherspoon. 14 miles from our destination. God had staged his death long before this day. But that is another story.

Sharon

Real Life Events It can happen to you Alaska Snowmachine

Permalink

About 3mileSubTok

The time of my life.........Tok,Alaska[URL=http://www.maploco.com/view.php?id=3715853][IMG]http://www.maploco.com/vmap/3715853.png[/IMG][/URL] [URL=h

Local Weather

Patches of Fog
30 °F
Patches Fog

3mileSubTok's Recent Photos

Personal Weather Stations

APRSWXNET Tok AK US
Tok, AK
Elevation: 1656 ft
Temperature: 31.0 °F
Dew Point: 29.0 °F
Humidity: 94%
Wind: 1.0 mph from the South
Wind Gust: 4.0 mph
Updated: 3:28 AM AKDT on September 18, 2014

About Personal Weather Stations