‘Sweetie, there’s a Ski-Doo out there, and it’s coming right for our cabin,” I say to my partner, pointing a quavering finger…

‘Sweetie, there’s a Ski-Doo out there, and it’s coming right for our cabin,” I say to my partner, pointing a quavering finger at the approaching headlight that seems to be pointing right back at me.

“What? Where?” Sam immediately starts wondering aloud who it might be, not that there are very many likely candidates who come all the way out here to pay us a visit.

Social etiquette as approved by Miss Manners doesn’t seem to address the protocol for visiting reclusive bush men and women.

No doubt this is partly due to the rapid dwindling of this population over the past 100 years, and of course relative inaccessibility and isolation are defining factors of life in the woods anyway.

Of the winter months, it is generally March and April that bring surprise guests to remote cabins.

A couple of years ago, when I was spending a few weeks alone out here, I experienced the sort of unexpected visit that I would not recommend people to duplicate.

Fiddling around in the kitchen, I suddenly heard a roaring motor noise right outside the cabin, and in the instant that I turned around to the window saw a helmeted figure already getting off a snowmachine parked just half a meter away.

In a daze, I did the only obvious thing: I opened the cabin door and let the dogs loose. While they were poking their noses into impolite places on the visitor and hopping around his feet, I was trying to mentally adjust to this unannounced intrusion of my sedate and quiet life.

But before my heart rate had returned to normal, the visitor had already struggled to the door and barged in after one knock, with the dogs on his heels. It turned out to be the new conservation officer, getting to know the backcountry.

An awkward 20 minutes followed as he politely refused to sit down or have a cup of coffee. He remained wedged into the corner by the door, the dogs forming an attentive half circle around him as he slowly proceeded to peel off gloves, a scarf, his PFD and opened his jacket.

The dogs still remembered an equal preoccupation with clothing to be followed by dog biscuits by our old-town neighbour, but the CO produced no such things. After a while, he decided to continue on his way, leaving me feel slightly unreal like a UFO abductee.

Our surprise visitor today turned out to be our trapper neighbour Rick, not only evidenced by his familiar machine, but also by how he stopped well away from the cabin and spent some leisurely minutes by his snowmachine.

Miss Manners, take heed: to allow for the brain to stop rattling inside a hermit’s skull from the shock of sudden exposure to a fellow human being, it is polite to make an elaborate procedure out of parking the snowmachine, adjusting clothing, blowing the nose and stretching the limbs in a spot where the befuddled bush person gets a good view of the visitor, preferably 100 metres or more from the cabin.

Visitors travelling by slower means, such as dog sleds or skis, don’t produce the same sense of invasion because their approach can generally be observed for quite a while, resulting in less of a mental upset.

But either way, some form of calling out, feet stomping and gazing around ought to be observed at a distance from the cabin until the wild-eyed inhabitant opens the door and issues the invitation to enter.

This also gives us bush people the chance to get the chain saw parts off the coffee table, frantically come up with conversation topics other than moose tracks and trail conditions, and possibly slip into articles of clothing slightly less matted with dog fur and sawdust.

But since Rick is a bush rat like us, we can forego these attempts at appearing normal. After Sam goes out to welcome him, we have him installed on the couch with a mug of coffee in no time, where he adds his own share of dog hair to the collection on the pillows.

We launch into a satisfying discussion of news of the woods. The mysterious absence of cow moose with calves this winter, a goshawk swooping by, wolverine tracks all over the place and much conjecture about when the first bears will show up.

As the guys get into the more manly topics of snowmachines and the upcoming boating season, nothing I can emancipate myself enough to work up an interest in, I reflect just how pleasant such visits are when one has had the time to gain enough composure to enjoy them.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read