“I would NOT camp there if I were you”
“I don’t even want to tell you what was seen there last week . . .”
My mind raced. Had someone died there? Had some violent crime been committed?
I was in the fish processing plant office in Kaltag where Veronica and Cleitus had been kind enough to let me in to fill up on water. Just before leaving, as an afterthought, I took out my maps and pointed to the spot where I had been aiming to camp that night and asked Cleitus if there was good camping there. His eyes widened and a haunted look passed over his face. He urged me in earnest not to camp anywhere near there. He was so concerned that, before I knew it, he was on the phone calling his sister for the number to the local church. He then called Father Joe and asked if they could put me up at the church there for the night.
As it turned out, Big Foot, or the Woodsmen as he’s known along the Yukon, had recently been spotted near Kaltag’s old town site where I had been planning on setting up camp that night. One thing was for sure. I was not going to get mauled by Big Foot under Cleitus’ watch. I was able to stay in the town’s church where I was greeted by Father Joe who had lots of great stories about the Iditarod coming through there. It was such a pleasant town stay I feel indebted to that Big Foot kid. I owe him one!
The weather coming into Kaltag was fantastic. The sun was out and there was barely a breeze. It was such a relief after all of the wind and rain over the past few weeks. I was finally able to relax, not constantly stressing about survival, not constantly surveying the terrain and maps to see where the next spot I can pull over is if the wind gets worse, not having to keep track of what gear is soaked through and when I’ll next be able to dry it, not having to force myself to stop and eat in the rain. Just floating along warm and dry and good and so happy. The bad weather days are hard but the good days are a dream and make all of the struggle worth it.