CAT TRAIN NEWSLETTER
THE FIRST ISSUE
This the very first attempt at a newsletter to tell the stories of past and future freighters, so bare with me I just got a computer and it has been 20 years since I was in school. I can only talk with one finger on this computer.
This is the first thing that determines the conditions on which you are going to be freighting in and this winter started off the really bad. In the Lynn Lake area it rain 3 times in December and by January 8/03 it was pouring all day and night, but there is a god. The weather turn nasty and for 9 long weeks it was 45 below and warming to -30 in the day but god also never gave us snow. So by March when it was time to freight and others to ice fish, the ice was over 5 feet thick and the hardware store was sold out of ice auger extensions. Now we have the perfect conditions for freighting but no customers (we had quotes out to 8 lodges) Mr Bush decided to go to war. So last year I put 1400 km on my Linn Tractor and this I have travelled 100 km dragging skidoo trails for free coffee at the morning table of truth. Now we got 2 customers and the weather conditions were prefect and the freight was delivered. Another problem that arose this year was the fact that we had no snow but lots of wind (the last 6 months has reminded me of growing up on the prairie and having rocks in my pockets so the wind didnít blow me away).The snow we had ended up blown into the portages where you enter and exit of the lake, now this is a big problem for the little TD-9. (The T stands for TINY) The weather had a lot to do with the snow condition, every year on these portages we have to plow a little to get the sleighs through, all you have to do is shave the top off and away you go. Not this year with the rain and the long cold there was sugar for snow under the top crust and we ended up plowing down to the grass for traction.. On April 6/03 we woke up to -31C and was able to finish stretch to the lodge and unload the freight and drive home in the warm sun.
This year we used the Linn Tractor (we used water in barrels for counter weigh and found they float nicely when the Linn breaks through the ice, plus you can stand on them in the water to hook up the cable to salvage them. This sure beats the concrete counter weight I used in the past it was always harder to salvage out of the water then the Linn) and the famous black cat (TD-9) which sent a year away from home in the bush and had to wait for the ice condition to be prefect to bring him home. The black cat got a quick service and off to do the road break and this summer he will get lots of tender loving care. This year we had the welding sleigh which has the all steel Rocker ski design and it worked very well. The steel flat deck sleigh using the Linn cross pole design worked well for the 5 year in a row. The good old wooden deck sleigh that Cyril parked in 1986 and it was rotten back then made it through another freight season hauling more weight then all other years combined and this will be it final year before going in the museum display of sleigh. I donít think so it has been the final year for the last 5 years and next it will haul more. This year the caboose has now got new shelves for the TV and the kids movies plus we are travelling with a better yard light. That is why Cyril says we are camping taking the kids and women along when you are freighting.
GOLDEN EAGLE LODGE SICKLE LAKE
What a nightmare this turned out to be, but I said I would get the freight there and I did but it cost my profits from the job, I donít quit but this time I should have. The problem start with the new manager who says it is his way or else, so with no snow he made us travel done an old mine with hills and sloped corners. (To do work in the bush you need a work permit and the lodge has to get it and the manger says we are going down the mine road and the permit says that you go down the mine road or the government fine is very big).The sleighs kept sliding off the road and in to the gravel shoulders, in the good years I travelled this road in under an hour, well 10 hours later we are off the road so we now have lost the cool night to travel the next 19 km portage. But the powerful Linn and the Black Cat made good time on this trail under the warm conditions doing a road break with fully loaded sleighs. Then we arrived at the 1.5 km portage that the lodge was suppose to widen last summer, this is so narrow the 9 foot wooden deck wonít fit. We are able to get through but lost 2 hrs trying not to damage the product and the equipment.
Upon arriving at the lodge at 10:00 pm 24 hrs after leaving Lynn Lake, the lodge manager put my hire man and me in a tin storage shed with an airtight wood stove. Well we have not slept in 24 hrs then we get to take turn staying up feeding wood into the stove because it is -35C and the snow is melting of the roof. After a long sleepless night, the manager burns the eggs and bacon, my dog would have a good chew on this stuff. Well we unload the sleigh and I had no problem moving two steel sleighs with 40 000lbs they were not frozen in like all you non believers of steel skis. We departed the lodge after another helping of caribou stew ( they had a 5 gallon pail of this and it was not the best stew to start with) and made good time home. The next day I phoned the lodge head office in Wpg and told them we are not doing a second load due to the adittude of the manager and the way we were treated all the other years they had good food and we stayed in the lodge. But Cyril says you should have taken your caboose and I will always take it from now on. Plus when it can time to square up the bill the lodge tried reduce the amount by $500.00 just to make me made I guest.
This was a picture perfect trip, we took Leeís wife and kid and off we went with Xena at 10:00 pm travelled out of town with Barney playing on the TV for the kids and the yard light on. Travelled until 12:30 pm and called it a night, woke up at 6:00 am to -35C which is prefect and off we went. Lee and his wife drove the Linn Tractor and I drove the TD-9 doing the road break and had to plow the 4 portages right down to the grass to get the traction. Arrived at the lodge at 11:30 am and spotted the sleigh for lodge employees to unload while ate, and on the menu was roast chicken legs, mixed veggies, rice fresh bannock and hot dogs for the kids. After being unloaded we had coffee and head out and was home in good time. The lodge is asking for another load of lumber to be taken in and the condition are still good to go.
This the first news letter and if you got a story that should be told, pass it on to me and I will see what I can do with very limited computer skills.
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