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Old Crow Outreach Trip - April 2002 -Page 2

This is crossing the continental divide. This picture was taken late in the evening on my return trip, so you are looking over toward Ft. McPherson about 45 miles away. The drop is very steep, going down nearly 2,000 feet in altitude in a very short distance. Coming up I had to unload the sled and take everything up this steep spot piece by piece. Going down, on the way back even with a light load, the ride is wild..you don't really feel in control.

Continental Divide

On the west side of the divide I traveled down "The Chute", which runs into the Bell River at the historic 'La Pierre House' which was a trading post in years gone by, but has been abandoned for a long time. This was the setting for the 'Mad Trapper of Rat River', as the Rat is not far from here. During the depression years not only were there many Native trappers in this country, but many white trappers came to seek their fortunes. A good trapline could make $20,000 mostly from the Martin hides, which was a huge fortune then. In the 1930's many of the trapping areas became crowded and the resulting friction was the setting for the 'Mad Trapper' debacle. Twenty or thirty years ago there was still serious trapping by the Native trappers, but now with the depressed fur market there is little serious trapping in this area. There used to be a permanent glacier up here on La Chute, but in recent years has disappeared. Most of this river is covered by clear ice all winter long, as the water oozes out of the mountains from underground and runs out on the ice melting the snow and then freezing. From time to time you encounter these wet spots before they freeze up, and it's not unusual to have to drive through water. I have been through it six inches or more deep, so you have to keep your speed up and it's a challenge to keep your load dry. This overflow situation changes from one hour to the next as it freezes over in one spot and in another breaks through and runs out on the ice. At times the water stretches from bank to bank and it's impossible to go around it. Just thinking about this stretch will quicken the heart beat of most any one who has to go through here, as driving through water at 40 below is normally avoided at all costs. In some places it freezes so quickly that there will be high spots in the ice probably 8 feet high, and when you can't get around these it's not unusual to get into a slide and have the sled turn you around. Across the river in this picture is a unique formation of crystal clear ice. It wasen't formed from overflow but instead from water freezing below and lifting up somehow. It was so clear you could see all the way through it. In April the temperatures are moderate compared to mid winter.


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