Several different and quite exciting trips by dogsled are described in this book. Hudson Stuck must have been very capable to do the traveling he did, and then taking the effort to write about it. All the trips were very strenuous and extremely dangerous in places. This is the earliest description I had read yet of Alaska. It is fascinating to see which places were populated at that time, and why. The author's description of the different native groups at that time is also very interesting. So is the description of the land, especially since my contact with them is mostly by the couple of roads that go across the state and tends to be unrelated to landforms. Stuck, on the other hand, thinks only in terms of landforms. It would have been very helpful to have a map included in the book, but there are photos!
Stuck was very concerned with the welfare of the natives and had a very progressive attitude toward them. However, some of the language in the book is obviously from that time period and is downright peculiar now. The phrasing also seems to be old-fashioned, and it is sometimes takes a bit of effort to follow sentences that I would have structured differently.
The first trip was 4 and 1/2 months during the winter of 1905-06 and went from Fairbanks to Circle, Fort Yukon, Bettles, Coldfoot, Kotzebue Sound, Nome and back to Fairbanks. A short trip 3 years later is next. This one was very unplanned and dangerous, It included description of passing over flexible river ice with the ice being held up by the water underneath it. The third trip in the winter of 1909-10 was from Fort Yukon to Allakaket, Tanana, Rampart City, Nenana, Chena, Fairbanks, Salchaket, Eagle, Circle, and back to Fort Yukon during a very severe winter. The next trip in the winter of 1910-11 is from Tanana to Ididarod and to Fort Yukon.
The difficulties of travel by dog sled, camping out at night are well explained, although doing anything at 50 below zero is still unimaginable to me. Two in the Far North described the same type of travel, but with less detail. Just when I was wishing I had some idea of what kind of meals they had, I came to a section of the book where Stuck described preparation of a typical meal.
Hudson Stuck was the Archdeacon of the Yukon, and he traveled to visit missions. The travel he did was extensive and covered many totally different climatic and ethnic areas. Most of the travel routes in winter are along rivers, with portages to cut across river bends and to pass between different drainages. I don't think any of them were actual roads, and may not have been summer trails.
The book includes very recent stories of epidemics in native villages. The last trip is through territory that the author believes is very sparsely populated, even for early Alaska, because of diphtheria in 1905 and measles in 1900. He describes three locations with six, six and sixteen people each and stories he heard there of entire villages being killed by disease.
Now on to the book he wrote about his first ascent of Denali. I can hardly wait.