We wake up to sunshine and a light breeze on top of Vermont Dome. We pack our stuff and head down the saddle. It's open ground and smooth hiking until we get to the valley of Acme Creek. Then it's talking, singing, and bushwacking through trees and brush until we fall out on an old winter trail next to the small mining town of Nolan. It's easy hiking down the flat-downhill road to Wiseman.
When we arrive, we visit the Boreal Lodge- Heidi's place- to get some snacks. The main store is a large open room with artful decorations and all sorts of handmade, home-produced things for sale. We buy ice cream bars and some jam made from wild low-bush cranberries (lingonberries) just canned yesterday! We talk to Heidi and her lovely shop assistant about hiking, exploring and collecting the local rocks to make jewelry. I'm given a beautiful necklace with a quartz stone which I have been wearing ever since. The generosity of these people is tremendous.
Us with Clutch
Heading out of Wiseman we meet Clutch, an older gentleman with a fantastic fluffy white beard. He offers to give us tent space for a night and a ride to Coldfoot in the morning in exchange for help with a few projects. We gladly accept. We end up setting up a large tent with tables and chairs underneath, setting up cots, and shoveling sand to make another level area for a tent that we had all the parts to but no directions for how to set up. This was all to get ready for some visitors and parties Clutch is planning for the summer. In exchange, not only did we get our tent space and a ride, we had showers, got to do laundry, and had amazing sourdough pancakes. Most importantly, we got a lot of stories. The stories started in Clutch's little museum, a small log cabin with tons of artifacts from the mining days inside. "If you can't grow it, mine it." Clutch loves geology and history, and even though neither of these are my favorite subjects, his passion and excitement about sharing made me excited as well. He tells us about local rocks, how he and his grandma are both in the ice hockey hall of fame in Fairbanks, about the Zamboni he built with paint that changes colors, and a ridiculous reality TV show he was on. The stories are too many to write here, but if you're interested, I can tell you more someday.