Final Preparations

Tomorrow morning at 6:45AM, I board a small prop plane to Arctic Village in the Brooks Range. There, I will meet with my bush pilot from Yukon Air Service for my flight to the gravel bar air strip on Drain Creek, on the north slope of the Brooks Range, in the north east corner of Alaska, about 40 miles from the Canadian border. This is where my trek begins.

Today, I’m making final preparations for the journey. I’m checking my lists; survival gear, camera gear and communications.  I’ve charged all the batteries and checked all the gear to make sure everything works properly. Parts of this trip will be tough, but with some persistence, ingenuity and stamina everything will be fine. If I forget something, I will have to make do. This is after all, a survival trip. My list of camera and communications gear, by far, exceeds my list of gear associated with bush craft and survival. 

As for my background, I am not an extraordinary guy, I am in my late 50’s, about 50 lbs. overweight and sleep with a CPAP machine. Like a lot of kids, my first exposure to camping was in the Boy Scouts. In high school, I took two years of machine shop classes, and after graduation in 1979, I went to work in Minneapolis machine shops where I worked up through the ranks to become a tool and die maker. In 1984, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved to Alaska to become a big game guide, commercial fisherman and professional trapper. I started out as a packer in guide camps in the Brooks Range and became a registered guide in 1987. I guided, commercial fished and trapped full time for 15 years. In 1999, I decided I needed to start building for the future and put down roots somewhere. I quit fishing in the summer and got a “real job” in town and started putting away some money for land. It was during my summer job that I met Angel, who was to become my wife in 2000. It made little sense for me to go to the remote trap line alone for the six month trapping season, and even less sense for both of us to quit our relatively good paying jobs, to go to the trap line together, so I sold the trap line. That would mark the first year I spent the winter in civilization since 1985.

Shortly after Angel and I were married, we started our own business, The Cutting Edge, a tool sharpening and machine shop, this is when I began making custom knives. I continued to guide fisherman and big game hunters, although, not to the same scale I used to.

I became a full time knifemaker in 2005. Angel and I expanded our business, The Edge of the Arctic Trading Post – Custom Knives and Art Gallery, where we sell my custom knives and original artwork from Alaska.

I continue to go on extended float trips and treks to test the equipment I build, expand my knowledge and hone my skills. 

My next message will be from one of the most remote locations in Alaska and the U.S.

Stay tuned, I invite you to follow along and see what happens.

Mark

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