Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2174971-The-mountain-man
Printer Friendly Page Tell A Friend
No ratings.
Rated: E · Chapter · Emotional · #2174971
WWII vet lives deep in the wilds of Alaska and is later joined by father/son.
Chapter 1 "The past and the start."

In New York city there was a family with twin brothers. They where a bit young to join up in the armed services so they had to wait till they where 18 to go off to war. When they got to go sign up the war was on its last few years. Some of the most intense fighting was still going on, but the war was swinging in the allies favor. After boot camp the brothers got sent to there units. One found him self as a clerk doing the job of sending the needed goods form beach head to the fighting men. The other brother found him self up on the front lines. They didn't know it, but this will change not only there fate but the family's fate. As the war ends the family is glad to hear that and is hoping to get both brothers back. Sadly this is not to be. The armed services had started to pull units back from over seas and keep them state side on base a while. So the troops can adjust from military life to civilian life again. This is where the two brothers got to meet on base and see each other for the first time in years. The bothers could see a change in each other. The had left as lucky and happy kids with wide eyes and big dreams as the saying goes. They came back tow starkly different men. As they spent most of there time on base they found the brother that was in the rear. He was more grounded personality but could go out and enjoy the world. He was looking foreword to going back to the hustle and bustle of New York. The other brother was having much harder time being around folks. He was very closed off a stark change from the friendly outgoing kid that went off to boot camp. They could see the small things could set him off in a rage when he had a pass to get off base. The small things is something we wouldn't think twice about and complain about as civilians. Like if are food is over or under cooked. The brothers would find Josh would be saying stuff like "if they only knew the joys of having a hot meal with out that fire drawing shells down on you meaning death for you and your squad." Now we know it as PTSD. The brothers just knew Josh couldn't get over the horrors he seen in combat. The brothers talked about Josh's fate knowing he couldn't return home with his head like this. Josh had a idea how he may fix his head on his own. They knew Alaska was a big mostly untouched state.There was homesteading where if you could live on the land outside of a city. Make a living off of it. The government would give you some of the land. Josh knew he could shoot and set snares. The idea of being in some valley far away from humans. With only the peace of nature all around him. Josh thought that may fix him mentally. Both brothers hoped this would be the case. The night before there unit was to be put on the stand down list and deactivated. Josh wrote a letter to the family that his brother would carry home. It basically said. "war has changed me and I need to take some time and get my self together before I can return home to you all. I plan to go to Alaska and will write when its safe for you all to have me back your lifes again." The day they got discharged from service was sadly to be the last they see each other again. Over the years The family will get a post card from places like Kansas City or Seattle. They would almost always have one or two words on it. "Drifting" or "Passing threw". This kept hope and Josh's memory alive in there lifes. Now back in New York they where having kids and doing the normal life back in the mid 1940's. One day they got the card they where all expecting. A post card from Juneau Alaska. It said "Going into the woods". This message as simple but would be the last they would hear from Josh. His brother had a feeling Josh would never come home but didn't dare to say anything to smash his family's dreams. In the 1950's the family started to talk less as it saddens them to think about Josh up there by him self. They knew that is what they wanted and would honor his wishes to be left alone till he was fit to come back to there life's. By this time Josh had learned that the main river in town still had gold that drifted down in the current. He didn't want to mine so he had set home home near the river where he hunted, fished and got wood for burning and repairs. He had dug a hole into the side of the river bank where he could pan in shallow safe waters rather then go out into the fast current.

Over the next 30 years Josh was spoken less till he was basically forgotten. Now the grand kids knew of there one grandpa that they seen but not of his "missing brother" as the adults would some time talk when the kids where not around. Sadly Josh was hardly spoken of at all. The family didn't want to forget but just got wrapped up in life and Josh's live was taking another turn. Josh had fallowed the family threw a news paper. Each year he would take the 4 or 5 day hike trip to Juneau Alaska to sell his gold dust. This payed for his land. He found the city still bugged him, and he knew he was unfit to stay in town long and looked foreword to getting into the woods. Each day hike would bring him closer to happyness and away from the mental pain of the city.

Chapter 2 "The company down river."

Its now 1980. Josh is in his 60's very happy and fit for his age. While out on some of his normal trapping runs he noticed a young couple setting up a tent few miles down stream from his home. He was shocked to see another person let alone two this far from the village. He made a note to make a point to visit them the next day. Today he had some rabbits in his bag and he had a few more snares to check. He moved silently in the woods with his skills honed from his time in combat. He was a real deadly hunter. The young couple was aware of his presents.

Meanwhile in camp Ryan and Taya where just starting to make a home for them selfs. The first task they set to was Ryan clearing the brush and digging a fire pit. While Taya was setting up the tent and getting the home stuff unpacked from there backpacks and sled. They only planed to use the tent for a short term. While Ryan gets the trees cut down and cleaned up to make a cabin. Ryan was thinking of doing that on day two starting at sun up. Ryan was switching off from a pick-axe to shovel for the fire pit. He wanted to dig it a bit into the ground and line it with clay he hauled in for the sides and bottom. He knew some of the moss in the north could go deep and he didnt want to risk his fire burning under ground and starting a forest fire. The newly weds would need all the plants and animals to live off of near by,

Later in the afternoon Josh returned home to his one room cabin. It was about 6' by 8' (2 meters by 2 2/3rds meter) He had a fireplace that is built into the wall so the smoke can rise out of the house while he is inside. Part of the 8 foot long wall had few rows of dry wood stacked up that is on the far side of the room from the fire place. He used that area mostly to let the fresh cut trees dry for a week then would move whats left to stack next to the fire place on both sides. While he cut down more trees to stack them up for new fire wood. This set up cut his cabin down to 6x4 basically. He lived alone and was only inside at night to sleep or in bad weather. Come winter time he did have a second building for extra fire wood. Some of the more dry stuff that didn't get burned would be stacked out there. This afternoon he did his normal thing from getting back from checking his traps. He would use 5 of the driest logs to start the fire. 2 logs on the bottom of the fireplace and 2 on each side. He would use the 5th log and run his hatchet over making wood curls to help catch the spark for a bed. He placed the 5th log on top in the center. The normal plan was to cut a small section of his hair off and wrap it in the wood curls then use his fire started metal rod with his hatchet to cause a spark. The sparks fall on his hair and wood curls having them catch on fire fast. The wood would slowly burn the 5th log spreading to the ones along side that. As they burn the coals would fall along the lower 2 blocks of wood. This would give him a good fire by the time he got done cleaning up the animals. The animals he planed to eat that day would stay in side and be put in a stew or cooked just over the fire. Otherwise he would use the same set up in a 3rd building he has made over the ears for his smoke house. This smoke house is made out of mostly branches stacked on top with 6 tree trunks holding the pile as a wall. Then clay on the inside of that with branches intermixed and packed tight to hold the heat in. There was vents dug into the ground for air to get up into then a angled chimney to vent some of the smoke out. That day he planned to have rabbit cooked over a open fire and the other few he would smoke in the smoke house. He had a big fire pit in the center of the smoke house about 4 inches off the ground that was about a foot deep and 3x3 feet wide (1/3rd meter deep by 1x1 meter wide. He used this to stack a bunch of wood to let it slowly burn down over night so he would only have to restock the fire wood a few times at night.

The next day Josh restocks the wood from his house from the green wood pile. He puts his axe strapped to the front of his pack and a hatchet along with a knife on his belt. He never likes to leave home with out the hatchet and knife. The axe is more so if he needs to work with the new couple that is setting up camp. He makes the mile or so trip to find the young man lining a pit with clay that is on a sled while the young woman seams to be working on a pile of tree trunks cleaning them of branch with a hatchet. They both look shocked when they hear Josh call out a friendly hello and see him waving. They can tell he is older then them, they thought he was about there dads age. This help the stay calm as this stranger came walking into there camp. The 3 all exchanged hello's and quickly became friends. Josh offered to help dropping his back in camp and removed the axe. He set off to the tree line to cut down trees while Taya cleaned them up and cut them to size Then Josh would hall the segments back into camp with Taya. Josh was not shocked to find they where homesteading like he had done all them years ago. Mid day Josh went back to his camp to check on the fire in the smoke house and restock it, before returning to the couples camps down stream from his home. With them being new they had fresh veggies and this was a welcomed treat for Josh from his roots that he had in his stews. The couple had Josh eat with them then returned to work. At sundown Josh went home leaving them to finish up there projects. Josh would stay at his cabin the night restocking it at sundown then in the middle of the night.

The allowing day the couple had started to build there cabin. Josh showed up and gave a gift of smoked rabbit jerky. He stayed to chat for a bit then told them he was off to set the traps. He told them it will be a few days before he gets down this way again and invites them to come up anytime they got free time. This is the start of the friendly visits and start of there family bond. In time Josh would teach them about panning for gold and how to smoke meats making jerky. Also good tips on hunting/trapping. With them being so close they needed to make sure not to work the same area at the same time. After all they didn't want to over hunt the animals that the depended on for food. The state game wardens never got that far out unless they had hunters in that area. The remote area made that very unlikely for anyone but local villages and the few homesteaders with in a few days walk. The game wardens mostly let the homesteaders do what they need to do tho they did make sure to educate the new comers the first year and check up on them. The game wardens left Taya and Ryan be when they knew they where on good terms with Josh and his teaching them.

As time the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. Soon leading into years. The 3 of them got really close as they where the only human contact other then the day walk into the village. In the winter Taya became pregnant and became even more dependent on each other. As the months moved along, Taya would do less work around the house and Ryan picked up the slack. Now Josh hunted/trapped for the 3 of them mostly. Josh would trap to the north then in the mid area's of the camps. Then to the south often staying with the couple for the night. Then he would hunt to the east of his camp then the east of There camp and then to the west of his and then west of there's. Ryan also got to fishing and getting crayfish in the river. Some times going to the coast for crabs and fish there. The coast trips where normal when Josh stayed close by Taya. In the fall they would hunt deer and the larger game like moose and elk giving the smaller game a brake.

Chapter 3 "The first spring."

As of most life in the world. Spring is viewed as the time to start life. This happened to be true to for the new family. Mid spring Taya gave birth to a son. They named him Jon. Taya being a mother now missed her mother that was in the lower states. She stayed in camp cooking while the men did what they had to do. Be it cutting down trees for fire wood or oft hunting/fishing/trapping for food. They had planted some berry bushes near by to start a grove, but not to close as the berries would draw the bears. Granted only black bears where in that part of the state. They still where strong fast and could be deadly in the right settings. The all knew you couldn't outrun or out climb a bear. Best to give some of your food and move back. Most the times this would make the bear forget what ever you did to make it mad. If that didn't work. Ryan had a pistul that they would take with them. Josh was a good shot still but had his fill with guns. With the now 4 of them. Getting a rifle wasn't a bad idea to start to hunt bears too in the fall.

when it was late fall Taya couldn't stay away from her family. She felt the strong need to visit her family in the lower states. Josh said he would stay behind and hunt/keep the animals out of there cabin. He set a big fire in his fireplace the kind he used when smoking meat to keep animals away from his place while he stayed at "the family's home" Josh would take Jon and Taya into town where she would take a taxi to Juneau for the flight down to the lower states. Jon and Josh would return to there cabin the fallowing day. Leaving the 3 men up in Alaska. They didn't realize this would be such a big life turning event. While Taya was away. The men where talking about adding more rooms to the family place. By now Josh was viewed like a adopted father to Ryan and Taya. Jon would grow up with Josh as being his grandfather. This adopted family filled the long void in his life. He still kept up with his brothers kids and now there kids. Josh would share the news paper with the family too.

As the spring turned to summer, Taya started to miss her parents more and more. In the fall she had talked to Ryan and expressed the void in her life. She missed her folks but hated the idea of leaving her family behind in Alaska. Taya found a happy medium. A short visit down south to the lower 48 states and she would be back home by the time the snow packs in. They had no way of knowing how big of a mistake this would be. With the winds shifting so quickly around the mountain side they where on. There was no real safe way for a helicopter to land so the normal state police couldn't get there safely. This left the state game officers to go in there Jeeps. Ryan and Josh where shocked to see a game officer out there way. He had some bad news for Ryan. Taya was killed in a car crash. This blew Ryan's mind. He lost his wife and there only son will have a single parent. It will be a few days before Ryan realizes he cant go trap with young Jon. He couldn't leave Jon alone for a day or two ether. He is now forced to give up the homestead.
© Copyright 2018 dj.typo (unaware at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2174971-The-mountain-man