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Five Days And Four Nights

Life in the woods

by Dan Hartman
Nov. 22, 2010

    



     We had a strange occurrence this week in Silver Gate.  Cindy and I ran into Livingston Thursday morning for Thanksgiving dinner supplies.  When we got home we discovered our power was out and had been since forenoon.  It happens a lot, so we weren’t surprised.  By evening we started to wander though.  Usually it’s back on in 12 to 15 hours.



     Day 2



     We awoke to darkness and cold.  I got our fireplace roaring as it would have to heat the entire cabin.  Our woodstove insert is useless without electricity.  We figured the power would be on by noon, dark at the latest.  Collecting drinking water from the lines we took a five-gallon jug up to the stream.  Using a cloth, we strained the murky water until the jug was full.  It will be used for toilet and washings.  We lived in our cabin without a well for eight years back in the 90’s so we had done this before.  When darkness closed in at 5 o’clock we had drug in five sled loads of wood to get us through the night, if the power doesn’t come on.  It didn’t.



     Day 3



     Still no power.  Now the temperature is dropping and we have to start worrying about frozen pipes.  Well the power will be on by noon, dark at the latest.  At 11:00 A.M. we spotted two power trucks heading toward Cooke City.  It was then we realized up till now, no one had even been working on our outage!!



Well maybe now it’ll be on by dark.  It wasn’t.  And now it is 6 degrees.  22 degrees in our gallery where our water lines run.  I found a ten-pound chunk of iron and cooked it red hot in the fireplace then carried it in an ash bucket to the gallery.  Soon it was 34 degrees.  But the heat would only last a couple hours.  Luckily the outside temperature rose during the night but the gallery was back to 22 degrees by morning.  We find if we get the fireplace in our bedroom up to 75 degrees the kitchen will be in the 40’s and the gallery in the low 30’s.  But what if the temps go below zero.  Also the fireplace has to be stoked every two hours to maintain 70 degrees.  I think we’ll use half of our wood put aside for our fireplace this winter during these few days.  Of course we could always burn the cabin down, and that would alleviate the problem.  A foot of snow today.



     Day 4



     The novelty has worn off.  Mostly because we haven’t showered.  Cindy looks fine, me not so much.  Probably because I really don’t care.  Well the power will be on today by noon, dark for sure.  There’s still a grizzly around so we can’t put our frozen food outside.  We are loosing perishables even though we’re packing snow in the fridge.  Drinking water is gone. We used the last of our candles last night.  I charge my I-pod by running the car for half an hour.  It’s the only entertainment we have sitting in the dark every night.  Luckily we have lots of snow to shovel to keep us occupied during the day.  Also neighbors are calling.  Asking me to fire up their woodstoves to try and save their water pipes.  Funny thing is, I swear their cabins are warmer with no heat than ours is with the fireplace roaring!  3P.M. and still no power so it’s time to strain more stream water.  Suddenly I hear squawking in our front yard.  A northern shrike has captured a pine grosbeak!  I photographed it for twenty minutes before it finally flew away. 



     Cooke City has power!  Soon after the electric company called to tell me we have power.  I told him we did not.  He said we did.  And I said I think I would know.  He said, “ Oh, I have to radio the crew”.  It is now 6P.M.  Bob Smith, owner of the Super 8 Motel called then to offer us a room.  I thanked him, but surely they will get us power next.  By 9;00 P.M. Cindy is ready for that room in Cooke City.  On the way I talked to the power crew, they seemed confused.



     We got showers and our first TV news at the Super 8, which by the way has their Wolf Watchers Special still going on:  $55 a night for a minimum of three days thru November and again April1st to May 15th. (That should compensate for our free room).  By 11:00 P.M. we were back at our cabin stoking the fire.  My good friend, Jeff Hogan, pulled in about then.  He came up from Jackson to try and save the water lines in his cabins.  Also he dropped off a propane heater for our gallery.



     Day 5



     Well here we are.  Still dark and cold.  Hopefully the power will be on by noon, dark at the latest.  At noon a different crew from Kalispell drove by with actual power trucks and a snowcat.  Maybe this will be our day!  Problem is the wind is really picking up and more snow is predicted.  The dump opened today, so now we can get rid of five days of garbage.  On the way I came across two nice bull moose browsing on spruce boughs near Sheep Creek.  Life is still good.  The first crew went home.  I’m sure they tried their best but the bottom line is we still are without electricity.  I talked with Flathead Electric again.  They think power is heading our way but maybe not tonight.  Darkness closed in around 5:00 P.M.  Cindy found two old Christmas candles but five dark nights in a row is taking its toll.  It’s funny how we take simple things like water, heat and shelter for granted.  But I think I miss good old lights the most.  There’s something cheerful about a brightly lit room!



     Suddenly at 7:00 P.M.  Lights! Heat! Water!



     The ironic thing now, as the freezer kicks on, it’s time to thaw out the turkey for Thanksgiving!



     We had a strange occurrence this week in Silver Gate.  Cindy and I ran into Livingston Thursday morning for Thanksgiving dinner supplies.  When we got home we discovered our power was out and had been since forenoon.  It happens a lot, so we weren’t surprised.  By evening we started to wander though.  Usually it’s back on in 12 to 15 hours.



     Day 2



     We awoke to darkness and cold.  I got our fireplace roaring as it would have to heat the entire cabin.  Our woodstove insert is useless without electricity.  We figured the power would be on by noon, dark at the latest.  Collecting drinking water from the lines we took a five-gallon jug up to the stream.  Using a cloth, we strained the murky water until the jug was full.  It will be used for toilet and washings.  We lived in our cabin without a well for eight years back in the 90’s so we had done this before.  When darkness closed in at 5 o’clock we had drug in five sled loads of wood to get us through the night, if the power doesn’t come on.  It didn’t.



     Day 3



     Still no power.  Now the temperature is dropping and we have to start worrying about frozen pipes.  Well the power will be on by noon, dark at the latest.  At 11:00 A.M. we spotted two power trucks heading toward Cooke City.  It was then we realized up till now, no one had even been working on our outage!!



Well maybe now it’ll be on by dark.  It wasn’t.  And now it is 6 degrees.  22 degrees in our gallery where our water lines run.  I found a ten-pound chunk of iron and cooked it red hot in the fireplace then carried it in an ash bucket to the gallery.  Soon it was 34 degrees.  But the heat would only last a couple hours.  Luckily the outside temperature rose during the night but the gallery was back to 22 degrees by morning.  We find if we get the fireplace in our bedroom up to 75 degrees the kitchen will be in the 40’s and the gallery in the low 30’s.  But what if the temps go below zero.  Also the fireplace has to be stoked every two hours to maintain 70 degrees.  I think we’ll use half of our wood put aside for our fireplace this winter during these few days.  Of course we could always burn the cabin down, and that would alleviate the problem.  A foot of snow today.



     Day 4



     The novelty has worn off.  Mostly because we haven’t showered.  Cindy looks fine, me not so much.  Probably because I really don’t care.  Well the power will be on today by noon, dark for sure.  There’s still a grizzly around so we can’t put our frozen food outside.  We are loosing perishables even though we’re packing snow in the fridge.  Drinking water is gone. We used the last of our candles last night.  I charge my I-pod by running the car fro half an hour.  It’s the only entertainment we have sitting in the dark every night.  Luckily we have lots of snow to shovel to keep us occupied during the day.  Also neighbors are calling.  Asking me to fire up their woodstoves to try and save their water pipes.  Funny thing is, I swear their cabins are warmer with no heat than ours is with the fireplace roaring!  3P.M. and still no power so it’s time to strain more stream water.  Suddenly I hear squawking in our front yard.  A northern shrike has captured a pine grosbeak!  I photographed it for twenty minutes before it finally flew away. 



     Cooke City has power!  Soon after the electric company called to tell me we have power.  I told him we din not.  He said we did.  And I said I think I would know.  He said, “ Oh, I have to radio the crew”.  It is now 6P.M.  Bob Smith, owner of the Super 8 Motel called then to offer us a room.  I thanked him, but surely they will get us power next.  By 9;00 P.M. Cindy is ready for that room in Cooke City.  On the way I talked to the power crew, they seemed confused.



     We got showers and our first TV news at the Super 8, which by the way has their Wolf Watchers Special still going on:  $55 a night for a minimum of three days thru November and again April1st to May 15th. (That should compensate for our free room).  By 11:00 P.M. we were back at our cabin stoking the fire.  My good friend, Jeff Hogan, pulled in about then.  He came up from Jackson to try and save the water lines in his cabins.  Also he dropped off a propane heater for our gallery.



     Day 5



     Well here we are.  Still dark and cold.  Hopefully the power will be on by noon, dark at the latest.  At noon a different crew from Kalispell drove by with actual power trucks and a snowcat.  Maybe this will be our day!  Problem is the wind is really picking up and more snow is predicted.  The dump opened today, so now we can get rid of five days of garbage.  On the way I came across two nice bull moose browsing on spruce boughs near Sheep Creek.  Life is still good.  The first crew went home.  I’m sure they tried their best but the bottom line is we still are without electricity.  I talked with Flathead Electric again.  They think power is heading our way but maybe not tonight.  Darkness closed in around 5:00 P.M.  Cindy found two old Christmas candles but five dark nights in a row is taking its toll.  It’s funny how we take simple things like water, heat and shelter for granted.  But I think I miss good old lights the most.  There’s something cheerful about a brightly lit room!



     Suddenly at 7:00 P.M.  Lights! Heat! Water!



     The ironic thing now, as the freezer kicks on, it’s time to thaw out the turkey for Thanksgiving!




Photos

View slide show

Fireplace

Northern Shrike

Storm

Griz out our Window

Snow storm bull moose




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