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A Holiday Trail Tale

Letters to the Editor / Fairbanks Daily News Miner / December 15, 2004

Living a subsistence lifestyle can be a hard life and especially in the Alaska Bush.

It was Christmas Eve, and the thought of not being able to take care of his wife and son weighed heavily on W.W. It had not been a good year; food was scarce and the summer wildfires had destroyed their shelter.

As they approached a well-traveled trail they saw in the distance a shadowy figure on a sled, then the sled hit something and the figure flew off the sled and hit a tree.

W.W. and his family had been a part of a commune, where all looked after each other and at that moment the thoughts of cold and hunger disappeared and they headed to the unconscious figure.

Even though the man was old, he was still alive. W.W. knew that if they didn't do something, he would freeze to death. They all knew that only the warmth of their own bodies would keep the man alive until he regained consciousness.

They pulled him to the shelter of some brush and then, since they had no way to start a fire, they all laid on him.

As the streaks of dawn came, the man began to stir. As the family removed themselves, the man was first in shock but the look in their eyes led him to know he had nothing to fear.

He could tell that they had not eaten in a long time and he reached in his bag and pulled out a bunch of dried salmon. While they ate, he explained that he was on his way home from work when the sled mishap took place.

Working together they were able to upright the sled and gather his team.

He asked if he could perhaps give them a ride.

They all piled on the sled and the man to his team, then gave a whistle and they took off like the down on a thistle, heading to Santa's home.

Walter Wolf knew that this would be one Christmas that they wouldn't have to worry about an aerial wolf hunt.

Russ Merrifield / Fairbanks AK


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