From my journal of a 1994 trip in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, to a private cabin deep in the remote wilderness above Nugget Creek in the Wrangell mountains. The minute we unlocked the cabin door and peered inside we were again struck dumb and unable to speak. Not only was the location extreme, but the cabin inside was immaculate and functional. It contained two hand-made bunks fastened to the outside walls in the back, with a narrow window in between that looked straight down the gorge. A beautiful hand-made wood stove stood along another wall, dry kindling and logs were stacked neatly at its side. A stunning hand-hewn table and three chairs, all freshly varnished, stood opposite the wood stove. The floor shown with fresh paint. The kitchen was located just inside the door, the few cupboards were fully stocked, and a propane stove stood ready to use.
Original ink drawing “Coppess Stove Company” ©Gail Niebrugge, 6″ x 9″ collection of the artist.
Outside the second woodshed contained the big barrel that we moved into place under a rain gutter. This was the water source for the cabin. Inside there was no place to wash or do dishes, this was done on the front porch on the folding counter. Above was a plaque with the words “Ye Old Wash Stand”, it looked 800′ straight down into the canyon!
This amazing building was constructed entirely by hand, all of the wood and equipment was brought in during the winter on sleds pulled by snow machines. It must have taken years to build, the thought and attention to detail were amazing, and the views were completely out-of-this-world. We settled into our routine and soon adjusted to the precarious nature of our location, and enjoyed the total privacy and isolation, being at one with the wilderness and nature.
Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist