THE RUSTY PAN

Outdoor Life - - HUNTING - Gary Guidice

Back in the early ’80s, my brother and I got the idea that we wanted to float an Alaskan river that had never seen a raft. We heard about a re­mote creek that was run­ning un­sea­son­ably high and talked an out­fit­ter with a float­plane into drop­ping us at its head­wa­ters. It would be a 14-day float to the take-out spot.

Half­way into the trip, we rounded a bend and there was an en­tire log cabin beached on a brushy sand­bar. It must have been washed down from its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion in the spring runoff. Af­ter a week of see­ing no signs of hu­mans, we had to stop. We rum­maged the place, feel­ing like tres­passers even though it hadn’t been in­hab­ited in decades. We found bro­ken jars, tools, old cans, and even a rusted-out gold pan. We left that cabin just as we found it, still feel­ing like in­trud­ers. We knew the next high wa­ter would fin­ish the task and return those hewn tim­bers to the river. My brother and I still talk about that find, and won­der about the old trap­per and prospec­tor who built the shack and lived way out there. And I still wish I’d kept his rusty old gold pan.

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