This is a continuation of an interview with Tom Gillespie by Don Callaway, Rachel Mason and Karen Brewster on April 11, 2010 at his home on Bear Lake in Seward, Alaska. In this part of the interview, Tom talks about changes in Seward, mining, trapping, hunting, fishing, other subsistence activities, skiing and climbing in the Exit Glacier area, and his thoughts on the establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: Apr 11, 2010
Narrator(s): Tom Gillespie
Interviewer(s): Don Callaway, Rachel Mason
Videographer: Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Trapping in Resurrection River valley and changes in regulations
Effects of establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park
Big game guiding
Running in the wilderness
Sports he did in high school
Skiing in the Exit Glacier area
Running the Mount Marathon Race
Recreational use of the Exit Glacier area and the Resurrection River Trail
Changes in Seward
Thoughts about establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park
Subsistence based diet
Children and family
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
RACHEL MASON: -- was when he came in. But -- '80 was when the park was established. DON CALLAWAY: But you're talking about the -- TOM GILLESPIE: Antiquities Act.
DON CALLAWAY: The Antiquities Act which he used as leverage to pump out the ANILCA and ANCSA.
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. That set the first stage of the whole Native Claims Settlement Act.
DON CALLAWAY: Might have been '78, maybe. I can't quite remember.
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah, I mean, I probably trapped there off and on over the years, that small area I was trapping up at Resurrection River, I was saying that the --
when Jimmy Carter or whatever set aside the Native -- started the Native Claims Settlement Act in the '70s, that's when I kind of got chased out of that area, and I was really upset at the time,
but you know, it wasn't like he was cutting me out of a lot of work, you know, but it was just kind of an enjoyment thing.
But I was upset because here somebody is 4,000 miles away making a decision what I can do in my back property, my backyard, you know, but that's true of anywhere anymore.
RACHEL MASON: So how were you restricted after that? Was there a line --
TOM GILLESPIE: Well, everything at that time -- for some reason, I guess that helps set aside the land for the Park.
And so everything on the south side of Resurrection River was off limits to trapping, and this is one little area I had been trapping in.
And believe it or not, a lot of animals go through there because they are following -- they don't go right down the middle of the river, any of the animals travelling go right along the shore -- you know, right along the hillside and they'll follow the contour of the hill.
And they'll just be naturally kind of funneled through this little patch of timber in there.
So -- but -- and then as far as the hunting above here, there was -- it was closed all the way to a place called Redman Creek, right here.
So in other words, everything south of that was then off limits. Once you got north of that, I think you could actually hunt on both sides of the river.
But as far as -- other than this right here, it didn't impact, you know, my personal hunt -- restrict my personal hunting that much.
And by then I was getting older, I was, you know, getting less -- getting away from the hunting a little more.
RACHEL MASON: You couldn't hunt anything in this area, I guess. Didn't you say you used to get moose in that area?
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. Well, you know, I -- I don't know, I think you still can.
RACHEL MASON: You still can? Yeah. Okay. TOM GILLESPIE: I don't think that's restricted. That's outside the Park.
RACHEL MASON: That is. That is. TOM GILLESPIE: That is more of a borough, city regulation than anything. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
TOM GILLESPIE: But it was just this area that -- when they turned this into the -- into the Park, that affected everything around here.
RACHEL MASON: And did it impact any -- any other of your recreational activities or snow machining?
TOM GILLESPIE: No. I never had a snow machine that was powerful enough to go up there.
One -- you know, I'd say one positive impact is when we had our bed and breakfast, the cabins over on Clear Creek there. You know, it provided a lot of tourism in the summer, and of course, we benefitted from that.
And when the first -- went in, the road still actually, before the Herman Leirer Road was put in, in the -- which was probably in the mid -- mid '90s, I believe.
So when the Exit Glacier got really busy, all of that traffic would go by our house on the gravel road by our bed and breakfast.
And -- which was, you know, pretty good, except they went by there twice, once up and then once back. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, right.
TOM GILLESPIE: And the dust got pretty horrendous. But that was -- you know, by then, I think people could see, they'd say, wow, this is going to be a pretty big deal.
So after that, they let out a contract and then put the road and paved it where you see it now. It leaves the highway by Spenard Builders and comes up and intersects Old Exit Glacier Road up at Box Canyon Creek.
And that put us off of the main loop, which was fine for our bed and breakfast, because we had a lot more solitude after that.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what years did you have that bed and breakfast?
TOM GILLESPIE: 19 -- probably 1990 until we moved over here. And then we sold it to another family that took it over as a bed and breakfast, and they've since added more cabins.
But we actually started probably a couple of the first cabins in the whole Seward area that was just specifically for the -- the tourist business.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what was the name of your business?
TOM GILLESPIE: Creekside Cabins.
DON CALLAWAY: So, I think you mentioned earlier you've done some guiding but not in this area? When was that? Where did you go?
TOM GILLESPIE: That was, I believe, 1978. And a local guy guided out, oh, near Ugashik River out on the Alaska Peninsula.
And they ended up short of guides, so he called me, wanted to know if I'd go out there. So I flew out there and they picked me up in a small Super Cub in King Salmon, then we flew down to Ugashik, and we hunted for moose and caribou out of there.
And then the next year, I think, and the following year I went out there, several different times, and did the same thing. Hunted for moose and -- or guided for moose and caribou for --
RACHEL MASON: Did you like doing that?
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, yeah. It was fun. Yeah. It was real enjoyable. I mean, anything out in the woods, I enjoy it. So...
KAREN BREWSTER: Up and around this area, did you ever do any sheep or goat hunting or get up in the high country?
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, I get up in the high country a lot. But I've kind of gotten away, especially since my -- I've been married, I do very little -- very little hunting.
But no, actually, after I -- probably in my -- I'd say once I got away from the trapping and, oh, somewhere in my late twenty, I'd say I got away from the hunting aspect and just stayed more into the -- you know, the adventure and the expeditions and just being out.
One of the things I would do over in this area that I'm kind of proud of, up at the Lost Lake area.
I would -- when we had our bed and breakfast here, sometimes I'd -- because I'd like to run, I'd invent my own runs, and I'd take a bike and ride up to what's called No Name Creek here.
Right where the -- it's like the second concrete bridge going up the road. And then there's an old goat trail my dad told me about, so I'd use that, and then --
DON CALLAWAY: Go ahead. Mark it on there.
TOM GILLESPIE: Okay. So I'd take off from here and I'd run and climb up here as fast as I could, up here.
Over and down here across the snow field. And then back over here to Lost Lake.
And then all the way down -- back down to the highway. And then run back, all the way back to the house.
RACHEL MASON: Wow.
TOM GILLESPIE: And actually, I one -- I actually did that before noon one day, but that was -- that's -- I couldn't do anywhere near that now.
RACHEL MASON: That's amazing.
TOM GILLESPIE: And then some other ones I did, you know, like where I added -- I'd go up and run, like, here and connect back into the trail and do the same thing.
Like that. And that's -- those are probably, I don't know, that one's probably 20 miles or something, but --
DON CALLAWAY: So how did you get across the ice fields here?
TOM GILLESPIE: Up those -- those up there are pretty well barren of crevasse -- there are small crevasses. I mean, it's not like there's any big crevasses. And this is in the summer, probably in July or something. And --
DON CALLAWAY: So there's enough -- the ice texture was firm enough you could just run in your?
TOM GILLESPIE: Run on -- with tennis shoes, yeah.
RACHEL MASON: Did you plan out the route before you did it?
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. You know, usually I knew where I was going. And another one I did, like -- is that Primrose?
DON CALLAWAY: Yeah.
TOM GILLESPIE: I went up the other side of -- this is probably the longest one I ever did.
And then I was coming over, I was going to come down Martin Creek, and I couldn't quite get down there because it got too -- so I turned back and I came back here to Lost Lake, and then back here.
DON CALLAWAY: Then all the way down to --
TOM GILLESPIE: And then back all the way down -- DON CALLAWAY: And then hooked up again --
TOM GILLESPIE: And all the way back, and then ran back -- or actually, I had my wife take me out there, she dropped me off there in the morning, about 7:00, and then I showed up back here at about 5:00, I think.
RACHEL MASON: Gee. How long ago was that?
TOM GILLESPIE: That was -- I mean, I was probably 40 or something like that. I had -- I probably -- yeah, something like that.
But that's when I had my first child, so I knew -- it was one of those days that I wanted to go out and get out.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. You wanted to celebrate.
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. I wanted a little break -- break time.
DON CALLAWAY: So you mentioned your gymnastic teacher in high school. Did you do a lot of sports in high school?
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. I did. And actually, that's another thing.
We -- my brother and I and a couple other, you know, boys and girls were probably the first gymnasts in the -- almost in the state of Alaska, because this guy, he wasn't really a -- he was more of a weightlifter, but he and his wife started a gymnastics program here.
And we -- it was right -- and we joined in with them, and you know, we -- we ended up to where we would give gymnastic shows for the local crowd here.
And then pretty soon we were travelling. We'd go to Kenai, we'd go to Homer, we'll go to Soldotna, and then we were going to Anchorage putting on gymnastics shows because they never saw people doing --
RACHEL MASON: They'd never heard of it.
TOM GILLESPIE: -- doing flips and trampolines and stuff.
And then we had some gymnastic meets, and we kicked everyone's rear for the first year. And then as soon as it caught on, then, of course, we were -- we were -- we were done.
But -- so, I mean, I was probably one of the first gymnasts ever come out of Seward, you know, the first male to come out of Seward, and of course, now it's a -- you don't even hardly hear about it anymore.
But that was, you know, a pretty big deal back in the early '60s.
DON CALLAWAY: How about basketball? Do you play basketball?
TOM GILLESPIE: Played basketball and wrestled and track and cross country, and all that. There was no skiing back then.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I was going to ask you about skiing in this area, you guys are skiers. So did you ski up in this Exit Glacier, Resurrection Valley area?
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, yeah. We had old, you know, wood skis. You know, I have climbed Resurrection Mountain several times.
I -- you know, it's been climbed before, but we skied some of this area back in here off of, you know, Lost -- you know, Lost Lake trail.
I've skied -- you know, I've skied the road off and on for years, you know, to -- in the winter when it's blocked off.
DON CALLAWAY: What years were that? What years did you do that?
TOM GILLESPIE: Well, this has just been ongoing. You know, in the '80s and '90s, they'll block the road off, and I've just got skate skis, so I can ski up -- skate ski the road.
But as far as skins, you know, putting on, you know, Telemark gear, we've -- I've skied over in here, we've skied this.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, you can mark there -- mark there, too.
TOM GILLESPIE: Okay. I've skied that. We've skied down that.
I've skied up on to this glacier here.
And we've hiked back behind here.
You know, I've skied up Paradise quite a few times, and looped back.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you ski all the way up the Resurrection Valley and come up to --
TOM GILLESPIE: No, usually we'd -- yeah, on that we'd -- I'm just trying to think.
That's probably back when the trailhead was here, and then we could ski up, go across the river, and then ski on -- you know, probably skin up on the way up and then take the skins off on the way back.
And you know, that's a good ski -- springtime ski.
RACHEL MASON: Have your kids got -- started skiing with you?
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, yeah. They are -- and they are both in the -- they both do downhill skiing and ski with the local ski club and ski teams at the school, so they do the --
RACHEL MASON: They must be pretty good.
TOM GILLESPIE: Classical and skate ski type.
DON CALLAWAY: Have you ever run Mount Marathon?
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. I did 15 times or something. DON CALLAWAY: Oh, really?
RACHEL MASON: A few times.
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. Well, that's why I liked all the running, so I'd do that around the running season. But yeah, let's see. The best I did, I came in fifth, I think, fifth or sixth twice.
RACHEL MASON: That's pretty good.
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah, I was in the top 10 about 10 times or something like that. Or top 10 or 11 or 15 or something.
And no, I -- I really enjoyed that, but then, of course, you get older and your knees start to bother you, so I'm going to save my knees for being out with my kids now. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
TOM GILLESPIE: And my young boy just -- he won it two years ago, he was 15, the junior race. And I still go up with them and help -- help with them training and everything. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
DON CALLAWAY: And what are your boys' names? TOM GILLESPIE: Austin and Dylan.
DON CALLAWAY: Austin is the older? TOM GILLESPIE: Austin's the older one, he's the 17 year old. He just got back from a track meet in Anchorage.
KAREN BREWSTER: So did -- were lots of people out here skiing and using this area for recreation?
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah, it's -- it's been, you know, slowly getting more and more popular. You know, once that road -- the road was really the crux because I'd -- you know, I've thought about that for years, you know.
I've got pictures of my parents up here, you know, just ptarmigan hunting and stuff with snowshoes on.
Well, from our place, you know, they'd drive up to the end of the road by Seavey's Corner and then they'd hike out onto the riverbed, and then you could go a little ways. But this -- you know, you're looking at six miles or something to get to the glacier.
So really, there was not a lot of activity all the way up, you know, at the glacier area, until the road went in.
You know, people with snow machines, but otherwise, this is a long trek up the river to get access to that glacier area.
Of course, people would, you know, take the time to hike through or something, but that's if they were going to Upper Russian Lake. That's a, you know, major expedition to do that before that trail was in.
KAREN BREWSTER: So when did that trail get put in?
TOM GILLESPIE: Well, there was a historic trail that had been in there from probably time immemorial because I'm sure the Natives had -- had a route through there.
But the Forest Service, I believe, had one in there, but it went into disrepair probably in the '50s or something, if not earlier.
A friend of mine hiked through there in the '60s, I think, with his dad and he said they just -- it was just terrible.
There was no -- you know, no trail really to go on, they bushwhacked a lot. And it was a long, tough trip.
Even -- even with a trail in there, it's still a long route.
Now, the Forest Service, I believe, probably put this in in the '80s sometime, and since then, it's kind of fell into disrepair where the whole, I'd say western, northwestern half of it is not being used much because there's so many deadfall on it.
So up -- up in this area here.
From about Placer Creek on, this area up in here, there's a lot of deadfall, and then they haven't been able to get in there and get them cleared. They may have now, but off and on in the last probably 15 years, they've struggled to keep it open.
DON CALLAWAY: And that's Upper Russian Lake right there?
TOM GILLESPIE: That's Upper Russian Lake, yeah. And this is the Resurrection River trail right along here.
And you look along it, and actually, now I believe it -- no, that's probably about where it goes.
But you look at these old trails, old maps, and you'll still have the trails on there. So like I said, I think it had been put in years and years ago, historically, and then the Forest Service went in and worked on it in the '60s to actually get it put in.
RACHEL MASON: Do you have any idea where it would have been going in the old, the prehistoric days, that wherever they were headed?
TOM GILLESPIE: Two things. Probably to Upper -- or to the Russian River for the salmon.
And there's old pictures from Seward of guys going up, going out of Seward, and you know, they might have used another route, but I think they would go on these big hunting ventures where they were getting meat for the townspeople.
And they would go, use this route, maybe in the '30s, and go out to the -- well, what's now the moose range. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
TOM GILLESPIE: And get as many moose, everything they could see, they'd shoot, and bring it back. There's pictures of just loads of moose, sheep, goat. Everything they -- You've probably seen some of those.
RACHEL MASON: Well, I saw one picture back at the hotel that was of -- well, the men were out on a hunting party, the women were fishing or something, they were doing -- no, they were playing tennis while the men were hunting.
TOM GILLESPIE: Of course. RACHEL MASON: But that -- I don't know when that was from. It was in the early days of Seward.
TOM GILLESPIE: But I think that might have been a very reasonable route for them to take to access that, you know, the Kenai moose flats area.
KAREN BREWSTER: So before the road, this area, was it -- in the winters, you know, it's easier to get up, but in the summer --
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah, it's pretty tough to -- yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: It was hard to get up there? TOM GILLESPIE: It was pretty tough to get in. Yeah.
It was -- you know, along the shore -- you know, if you could be out on the river, that's fine, but as soon as the river cuts over to your side, you're back into the woods, and it's a tangle of cottonwood and devil's club and brush and everything else.
So because of that, it probably did not get a lot of use until that -- you know, that road got, you know, pushed in there. It really expanded the area, or the use of it.
DON CALLAWAY: But you'd get up there occasionally on a snow machine? TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah.
DON CALLAWAY: On the river? TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. DON CALLAWAY: Right.
TOM GILLESPIE: And you know, that was kind of, like I said, it's a little bit of it's blurry because it's kind of concurrent with the road going in, you know.
When I was really young, you know, of course, it was just as far as the Seavey's Corner there.
And then later as I got older and started branching out and expanding my horizons, then, it was about the same time the road was going in.
KAREN BREWSTER: But you said your parents snowshoe'ed.
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah, they had snowshoe'ed up here, but I've got -- like I said, I've got a picture of them, but they are down in this area here. They are not up near the glacier.
And I thought, well, they probably never even had seen the glacier, and it's like, obviously, because that's such a long trek in there.
You know, obviously, on snowshoes, that would be a -- you know, that would be a -- probably would be an over -- overnight deal to do that.
You know, when you've got five kids, you're not going to be going out overnight. Yeah. Yeah. What else?
DON CALLAWAY: How about changes in the economy of Seward that you've seen through time?
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, let's see. It was probably, believe it or not, there was more probably independent economy in the -- back in the probably the '40s, '50s, and '60s, when there was a lot of -- a lot more work going on, on the railroad dock.
And now things have become, I guess, less centralized. They used -- the downtown sort of used to have like two or three hardware stores, you know, mom and pop hardware stores, no chains or anything. There'd be more restaurants downtown.
Now, you know, as you get the bigger box store type of economy, then it's more centralized and there's fewer -- like now, I don't know if there's, you know, kind of one and a half grocery stores in town, and back in the old days, we had, you know, three or four grocery stores.
And that, now we're becoming, I hate to say it, but more of a government town that if you look at the economy, that almost all of it, especially in the winters, related right back to, whether directly or indirectly from the government, whether it's the school system, the, you know, city employment, borough employment, the prison.
Just most everything has its ties to -- DON CALLAWAY: Services. TOM GILLESPIE: -- to the services, to the government, and not so much private enterprise.
DON CALLAWAY: Plus, the fact people are now, if they -- they were local stores, they'd be competing against the prices in Anchorage and use the scale that they have.
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. Very true. That the people can now drive -- a couple hour drive to Anchorage, and you can pick up your supplies, which brings you to another point.
You'll notice that all the lodges have -- how many lodges, you know, nationwide for that matter, have evaporated because of the efficiency of transportation now.
You know, Summit Lake Lodge, it used to be open every day of the year. DON CALLAWAY: Right.
TOM GILLESPIE: You know. And now it's gone. Of course, even before that, there were small little roadhouses that have since -- are completely gone.
But you know, now it just seems like a -- even though everything's becoming a smaller world, that it's so much easier to get all those goods and services, you know, in a short drive.
And -- but no, private industry wise, we have fishing here and --
Well, we don't really, you know, have any natural resources other than that. You know, there's tourism in the summer, obviously, is a big -- big producer for a boost for the economy.
DON CALLAWAY: But you're not the supplier as you were before the quake to the interior? The kind of raw materials that flowed through Seward, is that it?
TOM GILLESPIE: Correct. After the earthquake, much of the shipping went to Anchorage, and Seward has really never recovered from that.
We've never been able to regain any of the -- anywhere near the cargo handling that we used to have pre-earthquake.
RACHEL MASON: Have the fisheries declined -- the commercial fishing in this town?
TOM GILLESPIE: Because of the -- I wouldn't necessarily -- well, maybe it is, the collapse of the herring fisheries in Prince William Sound, and the -- I don't know if that -- and also the pink salmon.
The Prince William Sound has really taken a hit the last -- well, I guess since the oil spill, but the fisheries are just not here in the amount they used to be.
There's still a pretty good -- there's definitely a good halibut fisheries here, and you know, black cod is fairly -- I think there's guys doing that out of here, fishermen.
But there's very little scallop fishing. That used to be popular in the '70s, until they were -- that was kind of fished out.
But I -- I just think the salmon fisheries from Prince William Sound has taken a hit that's probably impacted Seward, and the other im -- the other effect is that the -- there's always kind of a constant fight with the local, I guess, you know, political folks on, you know, pushing the fishermen out in favor of tourism. You know.
RACHEL MASON: Sure. The charter industry. TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. All an ongoing battle on that, that aspect.
KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned that, you know, with Carter and the Antiquities Act, you weren't very happy about that. Well, now that you have lived with the Park being here for a while, how do you feel about it?
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, I think it's -- it's been -- overall it's been really good. I still harbor feelings. I'm a kind of a throwback that -- and I've talked about, well, guys like Doug McRae that's been interviewed and stuff, that, you know, we do, I guess, take offense to the whole idea of it being off limits to hunting.
You know, it's like, what's wrong with a guy or two out there hunting? You know, I mean, out in this vast area.
And then you weigh out, well, what is worse, having a few hunters out there hunting or having the entire seascape out there cluttered with, you know, tour boats showing -- showing people, you know, it's -- which is the worst, which is better, you know.
Or can you just leave it like it was where it was just land and, you know, if somebody was really going in there trying to mine a certain area, you could go in and tell them to -- to move out.
But yeah, I know it doesn't work that way, but being raised here, I guess, you know, there's -- there's still, you know, that thought in the back of my mind.
But I -- you know, I've kind of grown up with the whole Park thing, and I would much rather have it stay, you know, as wild as it -- you know, it can be rather than having it completely developed, you know.
So -- but there -- there is definitely, you know, a little balance in there, but this day and age, we can't -- you know, it's hard to control, put the controls on it.
RACHEL MASON: Well, can you think of anything else that we haven't talked about yet that you want to make sure that we know about this area, or about your -- your experiences?
TOM GILLESPIE: Maybe give me a couple minutes. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
TOM GILLESPIE: So how, I mean, is this pretty hard for you to go -- I mean, how much knowledge, do you sit and study an area when you go in, like when you're doing the different --
DON CALLAWAY: Yeah. Actually, Rachel spent a lot more time in Seward than I have. She's worked on a couple projects here.
I tend to work more in the Northwest Alaska, on the Russian side. But yeah, we -- Rachel reads all the historical, ethno-historical stuff, and looks at the pictures, and so -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah, I turn the pages, right.
TOM GILLESPIE: I would say, like, it's so hard I know -- I was born and raised here, so I know this like the back of my hand. Everything here --
KAREN BREWSTER: Well one thing we haven't talked about is mining. You mentioned mining. I don't know if there's anything you have to say about mining up in this area that you know about or old --
TOM GILLESPIE: Not in this -- well, okay. Mining in this area. People say, oh, boy, there -- I work at a gravel company down here, and we run tons of gravel through our crusher, and there's one area that material should collect and should have some -- if gold comes through there, should be in there.
And people say, oh, is there any in there? And it's, like, well, you know, if there's no gold around, it's not going to -- it doesn't matter what you do, it's not going to be there.
There's a little history of gold mining in this area, but the only one I know about, I believe, is on Placer Creek.
And there's -- there's a book that says somebody tried to divert the creek up near that cabin and they had to drill a hole through a rock wall, and -- to divert the creek through, and they said it's pretty unusual to go up there and see this water coming through right out of the rock, coming from nowhere, was man -- you know, manmade.
But I've looked for it up there and never have found it.
But that -- it's called Placer Creek, obviously, for a reason. I'm sure they had some kind of gold in there. I wouldn't doubt that the cabin that was built up there was for some sort of mining in there.
The other area around here, I don't know of any real -- there is a little bit of prospecting up on the back side of -- on Martin Creek.
A couple guys here recently have been trying to get gold out of there. RACHEL MASON: Wow.
TOM GILLESPIE: And that is -- where are we at here? This is Boulder Creek. Martin Creek. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.
TOM GILLESPIE: What's the gold mining thing, what's the little logo or -- RACHEL MASON: A pan? TOM GILLESPIE: A pick and a hammer or a -- a pick and a shovel? RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
TOM GILLESPIE: So -- and there's a trail that leads right up over -- it's 188 paces north of the third creek here.
It goes up over, and there's some guys mining down in here. I don't know how they are doing. A small gold mine. So there's probably a little gold in there.
The only other one that I've actually been to is on Tonsina Creek.
I've been up here, there's a -- right in here, someplace there's a huge set of falls. The most impressive set of falls in Seward. And I hiked up above there because there was or is an active mining claim there. This was back in the '80s.
And did some panning right up in here, and got a few small flecks of gold.
And as a side note, I spent -- I don't know if Doug McRae mentioned anything about gold mining? DON CALLAWAY: He did. He talked about it. RACHEL MASON: He did. TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah.
DON CALLAWAY: We have some nice pictures, as a matter of fact. TOM GILLESPIE: He and I gold mined. He talked about being out near Hope gold mining? KAREN BREWSTER: No. No. RACHEL MASON: I don't think so.
TOM GILLESPIE: Because see, he was mining with a guy out there. This was in the early '80s, and the other fellow had been ground sluicing the -- this claim, which means he had a -- he had this 20 acre claim, so he'd been spending two years getting the boulders out, and the guy lived out there in an RV.
So Doug goes out there, hikes up the trail and sees him and says, hey, do you want -- I'll join up with you. And the guy says, okay. Because the guy had just a little 2 inch dredge, and he sticking -- and he wasn't getting much. So Doug had a wet suit and 5 inch dredge where you actually go into the water.
DON CALLAWAY: Yeah, we got the picture of that. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, we might even have that here. DON CALLAWAY: It's right here.
TOM GILLESPIE: And Doug gets -- they get 18 ounces the first day. He said there was just gold everywhere. RACHEL MASON: Is this that --?
TOM GILLESPIE: That's -- yeah. But -- okay. Yeah. Okay. That was his -- probably his first day. I think they got this in one day. RACHEL MASON: Wow. DON CALLAWAY: Yeah. Yeah.
TOM GILLESPIE: And the next -- he got 96 ounces that year. And then the next year, I went in. Doug asked me if I wanted to go mining with him, so he and I went up above this claim, and we got 26 ounces in about three weeks, which is pretty good.
And I actually had my wedding ring for my wife made out of -- our -- the gold for our wedding ring was made out of the gold that we -- we had got. But it was the year after this picture was taken here. I was with Doug McRae on Gulch Creek. I can't tell you right where the gold is at.
RACHEL MASON: Of course not. TOM GILLESPIE: I'm sworn to secrecy.
KAREN BREWSTER: It's like berry picking. DON CALLAWAY: How about fishing? You said you fished nearly every day when you were --
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah, mostly right in Clear Creek. There were small dollies that came up the creek there, or actually, and then sometimes when it flooded there would be some sea run arctic char coming, or actually sea run dollies would come in and they were a lot bigger.
But as little kids, we would find the little -- we had some neighbors that had a small little wooden culvert, and we'd go over there, and we were -- I've got some pictures somewhere, we were little kids, and we would go over there with a stick and a string, and we would have --
the thing is we always had to ask them if we could use their -- fish in their creek, and we -- every day we'd knock on the door, Burt and Tilly, can we fish in their creek. So we'd go down there and we'd churn off and we'd catch these little tiny things and bring them home and have our mom cook them up. But...
And then later we started fishing in Clear Creek. But yeah, usually right in that area because we -- you know, we just ran up and down the creek pretty much our whole summer.
DON CALLAWAY: How about now? Do you have a boat now? Do you go out in the bay and do any fishing?
TOM GILLESPIE: No. That's on my list, but I go out with friends and stuff when we can. And we get -- we do the dip net fisheries over at Kenai, and, you know, usually can them, can them up or something, smoke them for the winter.
DON CALLAWAY: How about now -- I know you don't hunt as much, but you know, what proportion of your diet is wildlife now, would you say?
TOM GILLESPIE: What proportion? Well, the fish is probably the main thing, fish and berries.
You know, we -- if we can, we'd love to go out and we will go team up with somebody, and we don't actually do the hunting, but help them get the meat out so we can just have some of it.
But probably, oh, of our diet, you know, probably 15 percent or something.
KAREN BREWSTER: Is there berry picking or anything up in this area? I don't know the --
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, blueberries, yeah. Blueberries are pretty much found everywhere. Blueberries, cranberries.
DON CALLAWAY: But you wouldn't go all this way to find -- to berry -- you'd do that -- TOM GILLESPIE: No, blueberries, we just go out here or our backyard pretty much.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I was thinking was Exit Glacier Road area, is that an area that people use for berry picking?
TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, yeah, yeah. Berry picking. Yeah, because any access to any of the hills along there is good for, you know, berries. The blueberries, you know, like I said, you can find them just about anywhere.
DON CALLAWAY: How about is Austin getting ready to apply to colleges? TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
DON CALLAWAY: Is he thinking of Montana or is he further afield? TOM GILLESPIE: Well, he's thinking about, yeah, Montana or maybe Utah or Colorado, or it's -- it's almost a weekly subject with us. We're -- we're on him about --
DON CALLAWAY: Applying? TOM GILLESPIE: Applying, yeah. And you know, I keep telling him University of Alaska because that's -- you know, that's got a good program up there. I mean, as far as the -- any of the Arctic, you know, sciences and stuff, that's a great school.
KAREN BREWSTER: Good ski team. TOM GILLESPIE: Good ski team. He loves skiing and he's into running.
DON CALLAWAY: It would be a lot cheaper. TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. Yeah, I like it.
KAREN BREWSTER: So are we done with this area? TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. I can't think of anything else, any other trips necessarily, or...
DON CALLAWAY: Is it your and your wife's intent to really spend the rest of your life here?
TOM GILLESPIE: Probably, here on the lake. Well, when the kids end up graduating and leaving, we'll probably -- actually, we've got the lot next to us, we'll probably build a small cabin there then rent this out, and so we can have some flexibility. But as far as a place in Alaska, this is -- this is pretty nice. You know, we -- KAREN BREWSTER: Pretty nice place. TOM GILLESPIE: -- we like it. Yeah.
DON CALLAWAY: Is there places you like to go, to Mexico or something in the winter? TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah, actually, we were just there a couple weeks ago. We hadn't been there, you know, first time we ever took the kids there.
But no, as far as outdoors, this -- this is -- my buddy and I, Harold, who just got back from a climb up in the mountains back here, and we did another one a few years ago, another climb, I'd get on -- in with him now and then, but even as kids, we said there's a lifetime of exploring to do right here.
Because we can go out, you can pretty much pick an area and find someplace, especially on this side of the -- kind of the east side of the mountains, and find areas that people have either seldom, if ever, been on. So like I said, there's plenty of exploring left to do here.
DON CALLAWAY: Do you technical rock climb or do you just -- TOM GILLESPIE: No. I've just never -- I've done a little bit of that, but around here, the rock is so terrible, it's not really a viable option.
We do more scrambling, crampons, ice axe, ropes, and a little bit of protection, but not -- there's not too much in the way of, you know, hard core rock climbing. It's -- it's more -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mountaineering climbing?
TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Okay. Well, thank you so much for your time. TOM GILLESPIE: Oh, you bet. DON CALLAWAY: It's been a pleasure. TOM GILLESPIE: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Very informative.