I am connected to the web via a satellite powered by solar. Remember dial-up? It’s like Dial-up’s great grand mother. Hit send and go for a kayak ride or read a novel in the outhouse… The weather was too warm and too still on take-off from Bethel in the float plane so we had to shed some weight, which meant leaving my whiskey and laptop, too. So this dispatch is composed on my phone.
Finding the Motherlode
The ears ring the first day or so in the wilderness as they adjust to the true sound of silence. Gone is the hum of humanity. No distractions to the ear drums from the clatter of gasoline powered this and digital that. Once your ears adjust you can hear the sound of the blood swishing in your veins, the cacophony of tundra song birds is endless and loud, and hearing becomes feeling when the loon call echoes out miles down the lake.
We’ve been here since the 4th of July. We’re the only ones on a lake that is a mile wide and twenty some miles long. Jagged mountains drop down straight into the lake, and giant bears walk her rocky beaches while even bigger lake trout patrol the blue black depths just off the shoreline. I hunted and explored these lakes as a kid, and it feels good to be back. This might arguably be one of the most remote and pristine lake chains left in the world. The land is legendary for brutal storms and survival tales and strange Alaskan horror stories. From campfire tales of Klutuq, an Eskimo trapper known for decapitating area miners, to devastating plane wrecks with high level US political figures here for the world-class fishing, to disappearances linked to everything from bears and Bigfoot to mysterious discoveries. A story an old friend told me from the next lake up the chain was that a pilot landed to pick up a couple recreational miners and their camp was empty. They had left a note, “Found the Motherlode! We’ve left for Dillingham.” No one ever found them, but ever since everyone has searched for that gold.
I nearly died here in my twenties during a brutal storm, a story I’ll share with you soon. Today, I’m off to kayak and explore a little, but first I’ve got to go clear the yard. My son wants to play outside and my wife just informed me that on her walk to the outhouse it smelled fishy. This time of year fish stink equals a visiting bear. If I don’t return from this trip you can speculate that either a bear or Bigfoot got me, but the truth is that the land took me long ago and the Motherlode for me is when the ears stop ringing from the silence and instead tune into the sounds of life and I get to share this amazing wilderness with my family.
Don Rearden grew up on the tundra of Southwestern Alaska, an experience that informed his critically acclaimed debut literary thriller The Raven’s Gift. While calling Don “a master of the cliffhanger” The Washington Post went on to praise the novel’s “hunter-hunted suspense of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, the post-apocalyptic bleakness of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and the haunting mysteriousness of The X-Files.”
Stay tuned for more posts from Don Rearden and his upcoming Alaskan thriller only from The Rogue Reader.