Mining Days in the Trinity Alps

by Kayak Peter Wait

concerning: a newspaper article about the cabin
and my knowledge of its construction and maintenance

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Jorstad's Cabin in 1982

Jorstadt's Cabin, 1982

p j wait, 1982        

In 1981 I went up there to help fix up the place. George had been unwell for years and Mats had cancer and had to go to the VA for chemo every three weeks. So I was brought in to do neglected maintenance and resupply.

That summer the donkeys, Chico and Little Joe, and I were up and down that trail too many times to count hauling in supplies and equipment. We got so we could do it in our sleep. Or at least the donk's seem to be asleep alot.

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In the 70's there had been a flood which felled a 3-4' tree, supplying the camp with fire wood for years. In falling, that big old tree gave the cabin a glancing blow with an upper branch causing some structural damage. George attributed the minor nature of the damage to a tip from the old timers. They told him to construct the roof trusses using telephone wire instead of spikes. So that's what George did.

Before radio there had been a telephone system in the area between the different fire look-outs, ranger stations and mines. A single, heavy gauge wire ran from tree to tree all over those mountains. It had been abandoned by the time George got to the Trinity and was now the bailing wire on steroids of impromptu repair and construction.

George collected wire and fashioned the tresses so that they were flexible, much like a kayak frame of old that had been lashed with raw hide. When the roof suddenly shed 6 feet of snow, it would give, absorbing the shock.

And it did snow there. George talked of snow-shoeing into the cabin one heavy snow year to check its the condition. When he got there he had to crawl down into the upper front window.
[see photo above]

When that branch hit, it knocked the top long log askew, taking the roof with it. The roof was moved inward about a foot on the corner of impact. Some wires broke, but the whole thing hung together.

In '81, a standing dead Doug' Fir (or maybe pine, but not cedar) had been felled and split into shakes. I put the cabin's third roof on. Being new to the job, I nailed some of those shakes a little close. When the rains came in fall, the shakes swelled up, pushing up against each other giving the roof a wavy surface. But it didn't leak. And I did fix some of the worst tents.

team SF ...

That's all for now, more later Kayak Peter

2004, peter j wait



edited by Peter J Wait, 4/26/04 3:00:06 PM