Of Moose and Men

As I promised, here is another story from the “Jamin Files”.  Jamin, my beloved husband of over 15 years has given me many adventures to collect and write about.  Some have taken years off of my life and shaved years off of his, but nevertheless, they keep us believing in the grace and mercy of God.

It happened about five years ago…

The staff at a local Bible college was having their yearly retreat in a town 80 miles north of where we lived and I had been invited to come and lead the worship for the sessions.  My friend Kitri was there as well and helping me lead worship on that first evening when after concluding our last song, I heard my cell phone ringing in my purse back at my seat.  I was a little embarrassed that I had forgotten to turn it off or silence it, but I couldn’t get to it because I was still at the piano.  My phone stopped and then Kitri’s began ringing.  I wasn’t the only one who forgot to turn off their phone!  We left the stage and Kitri picked up her phone and said “It’s Jamin.”  We both quickly stepped outside to take the call and this was what I heard on the other line:  “Hey Cate, ummm…could you call us a helicopter?  Jonathan and I are stranded on a sandbar in the middle of a raging glacial river and the water is rising.  My cell battery is about to die, so I can’t talk long, but if you could just call a helicopter and tell them where we are we need to be picked up right away.  I think Jonathan  could be hypothermic and most of our supplies have washed downstream.” Jamin’s voice was fairly calm and even.

“Ummm…is this a joke?” I asked.

You see, Jamin and Kitri’s husband Jonathan had taken off on a moose hunt just a day or two before.  They were flown in to an area below a local glacier where they had seen some moose activity a few days before.  They had brought a tent and supplies and a raft so that when they were done with their hunt, they would raft down the small creek from the glacier to the ocean and be picked up there.  The plan was a pretty good one.  They had scoped out the whole area a few days previous and had charted their course, surveyed the water and decided where to camp.  The only variable that changed it all was rain– incessant rain.  It had not stopped raining since the day they left to hunt, and that little creek they had planned to raft down had become a torrent of water that swallowed up boulders and washed trees into its wake.

Jamin and Jonathan had successfully taken a moose and were beginning their departure plan but realized that the water had risen and was moving a little faster than what they had planned for, so they lightened their load by leaving their moose meat behind in a place where they could come and get it with the airplane later, but decided to still raft down to the ocean.  That’s where it all went wrong.  The water was fast and of course freezing…being from a glacier.  They were unable to control their raft and had been pinned several times against sheer cliff edges then soaked and nearly drowned.  The story is too involved to tell it all here, but the end result was that many of their supplies washed out of their raft, they were soaked, hypothermic and they nearly lost their lives trying to get out of the river.  Jamin told me that he remembers jumping from one edge of the raft to the other as the water was pulling it under while pinning him to a rock wall, as he was trying to force the raft to pop back up out of the current.  He knew then that he was going to die.  There was no place to climb out and no place to bank the raft.  Miraculously, the current gave up its hold on the raft and they were able to push away from the rock wall and re-enter the white water currents.  Eventually they came upon a sandbar where they were able to jump out and call for help.

Kitri and I looked at each other…”call a helicopter?”  Neither of us had that programmed into our phones and we were at a retreat center at leasts 90 miles away from where our men were.  So we quickly found a phone book and began going through the yellow pages at 7:30 or 8:00 in the evening trying to find someone to answer their business line and get a helicopter to our men.  Thankfully someone did.

It was already getting quite dark and the pilot of the helicopter was hesitant to take off in the dark for fear he would not find them.  He was willing if the water was rising, but if they could hold out til morning he would leave at first light.  He was able to contact Jamin and Jonathan on the sandbar and they decided to stay the night, but would call if the water level rose any higher.  Thankfully, the rain stopped and the water began receding some so that our guys were able to stay safe through the night until the helicopter could reach them the next morning.

Grateful for their life, the men returned home via helicopter and hired a pilot to retrieve their moose for them the following day.  Let’s just say that Thanksgiving had a more personal dimension for both of our families that year. Instead of turkey, we ate Moose Meat Sandwiches (French Dip style) and thanked God for preserving the lives of our men.

I never would have known about helicopter rescues if not for my husband.  I am glad I learned because this would only be the first time they would need to be contacted….

Herring Fishing 2011

 Jamin called me the other day (April 1, 2011 to be exact) a little shaken to tell me that the boat he is fishing on in Sitka,  “Infinite Grace”, nearly went down.

They were fishing for herring and had a large set* (about 400 tons they thought) when the herring suddenly sounded**.  The weight of the fish swimming towards the bottom all at once pulled the boat directly over onto its side.  Jamin was the first to jump from the boat into the skiff.  Brittini, the captain’s daughter and crewman, was in the cabin when the boat began to roll and had to be pulled out of the window by Scotty the other crewman who then helped her down to the skiff with Jamin and then Scotty joined.  The captain of the boat, Tom climbed up onto the railing of the boat and remained there ready to jump if the boat were to go under.  If the fish had not hit the bottom at about 75 feet, the boat would have been pulled under before they could release their rigging to free the boat.   They were able to release the seine*** and ended up losing all the fish in the process.

If you watch the video below, you will see at about minute 2, the boat listing to one side and then the rigging being pulled over as the fish begin their dive and the boat begins to roll.

Everyone was okay, albeit a little rattled.  They spent the last few days making repairs to the boat and also to their net which ripped in the process.

*set—what they call the catch of fish captured in the net

** sounded—when all the fish captured in the net decided to swim to the bottom of the ocean all at once.  (Like on Finding Nemo)

***seine—the type of net used in this particular fishery

I have decided to start a new category of blog on my site called the “Jamin Files”. As I write this blog I am reminded of other near death experiences my husband has had in our fifteen years of marriage. His sense of adventure combined with the setting in which of these adventures take place makes for some harrowing stories. I will share more in the weeks to come.
For now I want to say “Thank you, God” for preserving his life and the life of the crew of the ‘Infinite Grace’.” I know it is God’s infinite grace that keeps us all alive!

Machu Picchu

The City of Cusco where the adventure begins

I promised pictures from Jamin’s adventure hiking Machu Picchu in Peru.  Here they are!!!

These photgraphs were taken by our friend Chuck Skeek who was also on the trip with Jamin.  If you want any copies of his photos, message me and I’ll pass the word along.



Cusco at night


Jamin and Chuck plan their journey...Chuck photographs the moment via a mirror.


Jamin catches up on some sleep


llamas on the mountainside


Machu Picchu


misty morning


The mist is lifting...


Another look

The Honest Truth

This season's meat!

I am the boisterous one of our marriage. I don’t mind standing in front of crowds and speaking or singing to the masses. I love large gatherings and don’t even mind making a fool of myself from time to time. Sometimes I am embarrasingly honest. Because I am often in the public eye, I look like I can handle most anything, but here’s the honest truth:

I am married to one of the most creative, hard-working, steady individuals God ever put together. My husband, Jamin whom God has gifted with an entrepenuerial spirit, endless amounts of energy and drive, and the ability to make several different decisions in an hour is the backbone of our family. You won’t find him on the stage, or speaking to the masses. He will do his best to make himself invisible while building, creating, assembling, or helping someone else. His heart is as big as Alaska and you know it if you are his friend.

If you have ever met my husband, you will soon come to know that he will never forget you. He will keep in touch with you through the years. He will memorize things you said, or needs you have, and will always keep those in mind when he goes about his business. When he finds something that might meet your needs, he will give you a call and tell you about what he has found.

I’ve heard him on phone calls telling friends about airplanes he found for sale that they were looking for. I’ve helped him shop for vehicles, moving equipment, trailers, boats, airline tickets, real estate, hunting gear, digital cameras, software, and many other things people have mentioned needing. He has helped people build, move, repair, travel, haul, and network. He has offered to to babysit other people’s children even though he has a high sensativity to noise and can’t handle much screaming or shrill voices.

And while I am preparing my notes to speak for a ladies retreat this weekend, Jamin is building our enclosed trailer into a small home away from home. He is laying flooring, building countertops, shelves, benches that convert to beds and adding appliances. He designed a table that he will have each of the kids paint a portion of so that it will be their “place” when they sit down to eat.

I wish that I could handle as many things as Jamin does. I wish my mind could contain all of the information that his seems to keep. Once after drinking three cups of strong coffee in a row I thought that maybe my mind was experiencing what it was like to be him. But I can’t seem to keep up that pace. I would end up a heap of frazzled nerves in an assylum somewhere.

I will probably always move slowly from one idea to another and therefore rely on Jamin to make the quick decisions. I will often feel lost and have to ask for directions in the vast mind of my spouse. Although his mind is full of so many things, I am blessed because he is gifted with the abilities to make decisions quickly and soundly, and that no matter what is filling his mind, he always keeps those he loves close in his heart. I am glad that no matter where he travels in the year, he is always anxious and happy to come home to me and our family.

**Footnote: While I am typing this blog, my husband is talking to an eye surgeon in Washington trying to schedule eye surgery. As I am listening to his conversation I hear him promising to bring the surgeon some items from Alaska. Now he is telling them about the best places to see bears and the names of the guides and tour operations that offer them. I am giggling!!!