National Geographic : 1975 Dec
We found the cabin even slower to build than the raft (following pages), but by early October we were snugly installed. A roof-pole framework layered over with thick sod ex tended above our "Yukon porch." Inside, bunks, shelves, a desk, and a bookcase had been built to fit. Eerie Silence Interrupts Slumber Slowly ice began to form in the river, and at night we could hear the muffled crack of floes grinding together. By early November the sound was almost continuous; any day the river might ice over completely. There came a morning when I woke with an uneasy feeling; something was not quite right. Then Jerry's voice came excitedly from the porch: "Hey, it's stopped-the river's fro zen solid!" I suddenly realized that what had wakened me was total silence. Bob and I joined Jerry outside and found the river a vast sheet of white. The thermometer stood at minus 20 degrees. In less than a week the ice was strong enough to be crossed on foot, and soon after ward by sledge. It was then that we met Char lie Fitka, Jr., an Eskimo trapper from Mar shall who seemingly knows every resident and square inch of land along the lower Yu kon. Pulling up to our door one morning on his dogsled, he invited us to a Christmas cele bration at Marshall, 60 miles to the west. "You've got plenty of time to make it," Charlie said. "Many of our people are Rus sian Orthodox, and we celebrate Christmas by the Julian calendar-January 7 in your book." We left the cabin December 15, heading downriver on skis with 80-pound packs con taining our food supply, portable gas stove, a tent, and extra winter clothes. We left a small supply of food for our camp-robbing friends, two northern jays we had named 100 miles down the Kuskokwim River toward an airport at Bethel. With regret, he elected to leave the team in August to join the professional skiing circuit. 853 PAULCREWS,JR.