Thursday, May 27, 2010


Duane Ose, of Ose Mountain, AK, is the last federal homesteader in all of the United States.  He lived in a 9' x 11' dugout from 1985 to 1991 on a 5 acre lot within the 30,000 acre Lake Minchumina Land Settlement Area.  In '91, his wife Rena (newlyweds at the time) moved in and continued living in the dugout for another 9 years while building their 3 story log home.

Duane Ose

Duane and Rena live off of disability insurance and social security, which is more than enough since they don't have a mortgage or pay taxes and monthly bills.

Greenhouse and vegetable garden

Watch a video about Duane, Rena, and Ose Mountain on KSTP TV channel 5 news.

Duane hauling logs (Note the .45 on his hip)

Duane traps 'em and Rena dresses 'em

Duane and Rena's view of Denali

Read more stories about homesteading, trapping, building and living off the land in Duane's blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


If you practice the principles of leave no trace but love spinning yarns by a campfire, try building a mound fire the next time you're in the backcountry.

Construction of a mound fire can be accomplished by using simple tools: a garden trowel (AKA poop trowel), large stuff sack and a ground cloth or plastic garbage bag.
To build this type of fire: Collect some mineral soil, sand, or gravel from an already disturbed source. The root hole of a toppled tree is one such source. Lay a ground cloth on the fire site and then spread the soil into a circular, flat-topped mound at least 3 to 5 inches thick. The thickness of the mound is critical to insulate the ground below from the heat of the fire. The ground cloth or garbage bag is important only in that it makes cleaning up the fire much easier. The circumference of the mound should be larger than the size of the fire to allow for the spreading of coals. The advantage of the mound fire is that it can be built on flat exposed rock or on an organic surface such as litter, duff or grass.

Here you can see the ground cloth and classic orange poop trowel in action. (source)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Jim Bridger was one of the greatest explorers, pathfinders, and mountain men in American history.  He was among the first European Americans to see the natural wonders of Yellowstone.  When he was 20, Bridger was the first white man to see Utah's Great Salt Lake.  In 1842 he established a trading post on Blacks Fork in Wyoming called Fort Bridger.  This post later became a vital resupply point for wagon trains on the Oregon Trail, California Trail and Mormon Trail.  One of the foremost trappers in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, Jim Bridger is a timeless legend. He remains one of the most important scouts and guides in the history of the West.

Bridger was also a renowned story teller. During the annual rendezvous, a trapper's highlight of the year, he would amaze his listeners with stories about his adventures.  Bridger had the ability to mesmerize Indians as well as white men with his tall tales. On one occasion a Captain Howard Stansbury was amazed to see him keep a circle of Sioux and Cheyenne intrigued for over an hour with a tall tale that was told completely in sign language.

Jim Bridger is memorialized by the Bridger Wilderness area located in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.  Originally established in 1931 as a primitive area, the 428,169 acre region was re-designated as a wilderness in 1964 and expanded to the current size in 1984.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Chuck Cochran gets a hold of one.

Since 1941 Camp 4 in Yosemite National Park was base camp for some of the world's greatest rock climbers.  In 1972 Camp 4 and the Park Rangers had a baseball game.  This shot, taken by Gene Foley, shows one Ranger and a few others from Camp 4 that eventually joined the NPS.  Park Ranger Terry Pimental is playing catcher and Chuck Cochran, who played in the LA Dodgers farm league before he discovered climbing, is at bat.  Werner, Kid Carrot, Bruce Hawkins, Bill Bonebrake, Tim Harrison, Chris Vandiveer, Jeff Mathis, Bruce Brossman, Mark Chapman, and a lot of other folks are in this photo.

Camp 4 won the game, 2-1.

There were more games in the following years.  The Rangers even had shirts made that said "PINE PIGS".

John Bachar at bat.  Photo by Storer.