The plane left them on the shore of remote Lake Minchumina with two sleeping bags and a few other supplies. Then they vanished.
Two weeks later, the two men stumbled into fire camp. They had gotten lost, they said. They had survived by eating frogs and drinking creek water.
The people at fire camp were suspicious. The two men looked far too healthy, clean and well-fed to have been wandering in the wilderness for so long. Where had they been? Had they found a cabin stocked with food and stayed there until the supplies ran out, or until they wanted to return to civilization? Had they seen the fire on the way in, thought "nope" and concocted a plan? Nobody knew for sure, but the two were soon sent packing.
One of my coworkers in Alaska discovered the story while transferring historic fire files from paper to electronic records. A letter, written by one of the firefighters, was asking for payment for the two weeks the two had been allegedly lost and wandering the tundra. Intrigued, my coworker dug further, finding that one of the men had indeed been registered at an Ivy League university; there was no record of the other. Reimbursement was denied.
The real story is lost in the mists of time, over sixty years ago. What really happened to the two would-be firefighters? Were they truly lost, or living out an Alaskan adventure?
|Alaska fire scar and fire in the distance|