Along with many other Alaskans and outdoor enthusiasts, I love staying at backcountry cabins. But I also take my ability to visit cabins like Manitoba for granted. I sign up to stay, get excited about the fact that there is an OVEN to use, pack my bag, and make the most of my experience there. Rarely do I think about the time and energy that went into creating the trails, constructing the cabin, hauling that oven to the cabin, maintaining the cabin, improving it….The list stretches on.
Since I started to work for the Alaska Huts Association last year, all of these things are now in the forefront of my mind. I make sure that things run smoothly at Manitoba - and am consistently surprised at the effort that goes into maintaining the facility. Eric, our firewood supplier, spends his fall, summer and winter constantly searching out and cutting down our wood supply for Spring Work Weekend and Woodstock. Someone hikes or skis into Manitoba almost every week, checking to be sure there is enough propane for heat, functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, toilet paper….Again, the list stretches on. After a winter of heavy use, Manitoba starts to show signs of being tired. Leaks pop up on the roof, insulation begins to sag under the yurt, snow melts to show piles of debris and gravel mysteriously disappears from walkways.
Spring Work Weekend is all about giving Manitoba the attention it needs to live a healthy, long life. With a staff totaling only two people, both Alaska Huts and Manitoba rely heavily upon volunteer support.
On Saturday, May 19th, we will be stacking 8-10 new cords of firewood, hauling gravel and re-graveling the grounds, and giving the yurts and cabin a deep cleaning in preparation for summer. As a reward for our hard work, Indian Valley Meats and Resolution Brewing Company have generously donated treats for the weekend.
We are lucky to live in a state with pristine wilderness and cabins like Manitoba that have ovens, saunas, dishes, and solar-powered lights. The Alaska Huts Association was founded with the goal to foster wilderness experiences and build camaraderie. The groundwork necessary to build a hut, and maintain and improve it, is a big undertaking. It’s an undertaking that requires a community to stand together through support and time.
I hope you can join us on May 19th for Spring Work Weekend; we would love to see you there! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mackenzie Barnwell, Operations Manager