Friday, March 5, 2010

The 50 pound charger or: An entirely typical endeavour up at the hermitage and beyond

I get my electricity from a shitload of batteries that are charged by my solar panels. Being at 60 degrees North, however, I don't get all that much sun in the winter. So I've schlepped my gas generator up here to charge the batteries every now and then in winter. But I need some piece of technical wizardry between that infernal internal combustion engine and the batteries. There is a charger on the market that is both compact and fulfills my needs, but it is prohibitively expensive so I opted instead for a cheaper, larger model.

Getting hold of this object involved getting myself to the strip mall outside town, a voyage never intended by God or planners to be undertaken by anyone without a car. But I took the bus with my friend and neighbour Iv, who also needed some stuff there, so at least we could bitch about how civilization must surely come to an end while taking in all that unbridled consumerism at display. That's me below, with the charger strapped to my backpack. I had to fend young, nubile girls off with a stick, so attracted were they by this exhibition of purpose and physical prowess.

We managed to get back to town, and I took the train which fortunately stops right next door to prizewinning mushers M & Ø. I dumped the charger there (interesting picture below), and was invited inside for a cup of coffee where I bored Ø. to death with pretty much the same stories I tell him every time I see him, I'm afraid.

I could have packed the charger all the way home strapped to my backpack. I've carried heavier loads longer. But it's boring and unstylish if there's an option. If there's no option, of course, it's ball-bustingly cool.

After coffee I trotted up to the cabin, fed the dogs, and took a short nap. The next morning I hitched up the gang, and this is what they sound like before we set off:

I really cannot believe I had eight dogs for many years. I can vaguely remember the drama being incredible at times, I must have been very cool or incredibly stupid.

I am a bit wary about driving the dogs in daytime, as there are invariably horses and poodles behind some bend. My dogs normally run with their ears folded back in an aerodynamic tuck, but when they smell something interesting they usually prick them up. I pay real close attention to those ears.

By now they know the drill of picking up goods, and segue into a slow pace once we arrive at M & Øs place before stopping. I fasten a snow anchor into the drifts behind the sled, and clip a small front anchor to the lead dogs (below) while loading the sled.

Then we turned around and headed home. True to form, we did meet a horse. As that wily trapper I would like to be, I knew we were going to meet one because there had been soft horse shit on the road. I wasn't going to fool around with a camera when it passed as I needed both hands to keep the dogs from inspecting it closer than it would like. But here are the dogs hauling me. the 50 pound charger and assorted other stuff:

Once home I emptied the sled, fed the dogs, scooped the poop, and unpacked that clever contraption, marveling at the approximate workmanship. Here it is, placed next to that nefarious generator:
Once done, it was time to go to work. By skis. For someone who skis so much I am still surprisingly poor at it.

I keep fretting about if I've done the right thing. In theory, I will now be more independent in the sense that with a reliable source of electricity I can work from the cabin. But will this entail a lot of time spent getting gas, transporting jerry cans, worrying about fickle machinery which is inhabited, as we all know, by leprechauns?

All in all, another day.


Oldfool said...

Young, nubile girls. What a great mind picture.
I think I'm developing a thing for your dogs.

coastkid said...

cool films..those dogs are lovely,

C.S. said...

I always find your blog/photos/videos simply amazing. I wish all Americans had to view these as an education -- survival 101.

Living in the southern USA, we never experience such snow -- but I admire your dogs and their ability to get you from place to place.

I call myself a semi-hermit, because I live in a small town, but I'm alone most of the time. Hermits can be found in the most unlikely places.

dogsled_stacie said...

Wow a hermit with a charger strapped to his back, transported by dog team, you really know how to turn a woman on!! I'm surprised you made it back alive with all of your clothing intact and not shredded by the "nubile" girls, lol!

I hear you about the craziness of bigger dog teams. I'm quite comfortable skijoring with 3-4. They NEVER get away, although the other drawback is that they often drag ME down the trail on my back/side/face...

Love the 3-dog team! :)

Driven Mad said...

I like your style. At first I would be skeptical of the stereotypical hermit living in the woods with no electricity, but your wit has reeled me in. I look forward to more laughs and insightful storytelling.