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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Camp or Cabin?

When we go to Afognak we camp out in tents and use a big old teepee with a woodstove for the camp kitchen and mess hall.  Early on we decided to not build a cabin.

And it seems to work. I can set up our camp in under 2 hours and it comes down in about 1 hour.  We do not have to worry about maintaining a cabin or the cost of building one.  We camp, we leave, and while the place is a bit trampled it is in pretty much in the same condition as when we arrived (this time we did leave a tub). No worrying about squirrels filling a cabin with spruce cones, hunters leaving a mess, or otters denning up under the foundation.  Best of all the kids learn about camping.

Another reason we have not built a cabin is that when I go to other bays and places on Kodiak it always annoys me when I find a cabin.  It sort of destroys the wilderness value of the place and seems sort of selfish - a cabin screams that someone thinks they own the place.  I like to explore the places on Kodiak where there are no cabins.

Still people often ask us why we don't build a cabin.  On remote properties everybody seems to build a cabin.  And I have to admit, to a small extent, Zoya and I have wondered if we should build a cabin.  I think the deciding factor has always been about how much time we would spend at a cabin.  If we spent the entire summer on Afognak every year then I think the maintenance and other costs would be justified.

All of these thoughts came to mind when I went on my archaeological survey of Uyak Bay a couple of weeks ago.  There are a lot of cabins in Uyak Bay. A few of them do get used every summer and fall (and even year round), and they seem totally justified. These individuals and families get to live a totally awesome lifestyle out on the land. I am always a little envious (and in awe) of setnetters, guides and other people who have the wherewithal to make a living out on the landscape.

But what was shocking about Uyak Bay was how many of the cabins NEVER get used.  Many of them were built and used just once, and most of them are slowly decaying into wreaks. A remote piece of Alaska with a cabin on it seems to be a common dream.  But it also seems to be a dream that very few have the commitment to follow through on.

Our teepee and woodstove are looking pretty good!


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