Eye of the Raven Chris D'Alessandro Dunster Valemount McBride column
Photo courtesy Chris D’Alessandro

This story is from the vast Archives of a well known local trapper and best-selling author of “Thirty Five Years of Poaching in the Rocky Mountains” or “I don’t like the Cut of your Jibb”; the internationally recognized GJ Mulch, aka Greggo. As a trapline owner Mr Mulch was well acquainted with hard labor. The summer off-season generally consisting of cabin repairs, firewood cutting, re-supply, etc., and with his string of horses he would generally make at least one trip to each cabin during the summer months. As he needed help, he was usually accompanied by a friend. Thus began our lifelong friendship, as late in the fall of 1978 we headed up Tommy Creek to the headwaters of the Chalco, on to Loren Lake and down the Wolverine Creek, aka North Fork of Chalco Creek.

The cabin at the forks of the Wolverine was a welcome site after a long day of hiking through a cold torrential rain. It was an old cabin built by Scotty Nevin, a trapper from the previous generation, legendary mountain man in the valley and veteran of WW1. I remember the ridge pole of the cabin being held up by a makeshift pole with a fork. We did our best to repair it. I can remember thinking it won’t make the winter, but after a wet and hypothermic day in the old growth forest, the cabin looked like a castle set in the midst of giant magical 4-5 foot spruce trees. Inside was a small air tight stove which we soon had glowing red hot, and a bunk bed with a serious sag in the middle. Later that night as we tried to fall into a coma of exhaustion, the sag caused us both to roll into the center against each other. With one thin wool blanket covering us – right out of a Three Stooge’s movie – we got little or no sleep.

Oddly enough, with yearly re-propping of the forked upright, the Wolverine cabin stood for years, even surviving the devastation of the harvesting of the entire creek valley in the early 1980s. At that point the picture had changed significantly. It didn’t take days of toil to get there, it took about 45 minutes in a 4 wheel drive on what was left of the forestry road. So Greggo continued with the help of friends each year to maintain and repair this interesting piece of Robson Valley history.

It was during one such excursion when this encounter took place. It was late in the fall and the first fall of snow had come. Greggo was trapping martens and wolverine up the Chalco and he planned to spend the night in the cabin. The rest of the tale I am retelling from his vivid description at the time.

One of his intentions on this particular trip was to install the tin sheets on the roof that he had transported up there earlier in the summer. The tin was stacked on the road and the cabin being several hundred feet below, he put down his pack and grabbed as many pieces of tin as he could carry and began packing them down to the cabin. What the reader has to picture now is the posture and position he was in. The tin was 8 or 10 foot long pieces, they were on his back and he was naturally bent forward with his face to the ground as he walked. As he approached the cabin he walked across a set of very large fresh grizzly tracks three feet in front of his face.

As bears move around that time of year, and the tracks were going crossways to his trail, it didn’t set off any immediate warning signs to the tired trapper toiling under his heavy awkward load. As he approached the cabin however he began to hear muffled sounds coming from inside, and right as he began to put two and two together, he lifted his head just in time to hear a number of angry loud “woofs.” He then saw a very large silver tip boar explode through the top of the cabin like a Jack-in-the-box, landing on all four feet in front of him, popping his jaws and snapping his teeth in the face of the startled trapper. As all this happened while Greggo was lifting his head up, you have to imagine what was happening to the tin! It continued to go up and then straight back over, crashing to the ground with a loud clatter, and Greggo sprawled face up on top of it. The bear took off like he had heard a cannon and Greggo lived to tell the tale about the loud crash that saved his life. Personally I think that the poor bear got too long a look at Greggo and went into a state of shock! Only the Raven sitting in the tree above will ever really know!

By: Chris D’alessandro as part of the ongoing series Eye of the Raven