Fabian Carey died in 1975. The year following his passing, I lived in the cabin shown in the photo. Part of the agreement with Fabian’s widow Mary, was that I take down the old cache, which had become worm-eaten and teetery. In the cache were thesled dog tug lines shown in the photo. Being sentimental and a dog man, I just couldn’t throw them away. They were too symbolic.
I carried these lines with me by dog team when I came out of Lake Minchumina in January of 1977to reach the highway system to run that year’s Iditarod. It was an 18-day expedition by compass, axe and snowshoe ahead of my dog team.
When I returned to Anchorage, I contacted Michael Carey, Fabian’s son and well-known writer. I imagined that he would value such relics spliced by his father’s own fingers. However, he told me, “Rod, being a musher, they probably mean more to you.” I then offered them to the Alaska Trappers Association, founded by Fabian and others in 1973.
So, now we have this artfully put-together exhibit. When I look at pictures of Fabian at the cabin, his wonderfully crafted sled and his great, old-breed freighting dogs out on Lake Minchumina with McKinley and Foraker in the background, a feeling of melancholy settles over me. I wish that I could have known the “Old North” of Fabian Carey, when trails were broken by legs of steel and snowshoe, and the winter travel through the Bush depended on dog power. The Bush remained wild and vast, comprised of stretches of untrapped country awaiting the cutting of a ‘line and erection of ‘line cabins, where a man could claim some country of his own and was encouraged to do so. Ahh, what a time.
I used to define myself chiefly as an adventurer, hunter, and artist. As I’ve grown older and I’ve gotten to know myself better, I’ve come to realize that on top of it all, I’m also a hopeless “Old North” romantic.
I’m glad that these tug lines have found a home with a bunch of people who respect Fabian’s legacy as much as I do.
Your touchups make it perfect.
Thank you for the several opportunities this provides. First, it affords the chance to contribute to Fabian’s legacy, and in doing so I feel like I’m honoring the legacy of the other Minchumina trappers that were his contemporaries and held him in high regard–Slim Carlson, Kenny Granroth, Val Blackburn, Tom Flood, and my hero of them all, Leonard Menke, the greatest woodsman I have ever known. Next, it allows me to link arms in a small, but sentimental way with a brotherhood I so respect, the Alaska Trappers. Third, it gives me another chance to express some of my core stirrings, those that pine for the trapline realm of Fabian’s world, the way he lived it. Lost in space? Yep, part of me is.
Keep blazing new trails,