I met Trapper Jim in 1974 while setting up my remote Alaska fishing lodge… or at that point, a “tent camp lodge,” six miles up river from where Talaheim now exists. Trapper Jim was the only resident of the Talachulitna River; he lived in a log cabin and made his living from trapping alone. At that time he was working for Alaska Fish and Game as a boat driver. Jim had never driven a jet boat, but yet he was the man in charge. One day Jim drove his boat six miles up river and we met.
Although Jim was known as the “lone trapper” living in the remote Alaska wilderness, he was very social by nature and therefore missed companionship… so much so that he took my new bride and I to a spot just up river from his house that he thought would make a great location for a remote Alaska fishing lodge. Thirty-four years later, Talaheim still exists on that spot. I paid Jim back a couple years lager when I introduced him to a young girl living fifteen miles away on 7 Mile Lake. Joylanne and Jim married, but only after a courting that belongs in a movie. They raised four children in their remote Alaska wilderness residence.
During Jim’s bachelor years, he invited me to live with him while I hauled logs for my new remote Alaska fishing lodge. I had a few fun, yet awkward, experiences during those times. Jim had run an ad in the Anchorage Times, asking any woman interested in living with him in the remote Alaska wilderness to contact him ASAP. I became party to a couple of these interesting interviews. One clear cool day, a ski plane lands with two young women (one potential, one companion). That evening Jim and I entertained these two young ladies over an oil-lamp-lit moose meat dinner. My young wife was in Anchorage working at the time, and here I was dining out with Jim and two ladies… but it was out of pure obligation! Damn, my guitar and a bottle of Merlot would have gone over well during those times, but unfortunately those skills and abundances didn’t come til later.
Trapper Jim now has three grown children; Talah (named after the River) and Emily are married, and his son Jake is a bush pilot and world traveler. Hanah is thirteen and just started high school, yet still home-schooled. There wasn’t a better place to raise our children then “on the river”. I’m lucky enough to still call Trapper Jim my Alaska fishing guide, even though it’s probably more appropriate to call him my mentor. One lady customer of ours once said, after returning from a day on the river with Jim, “ the heck with the fishing, I could just sit on a log with Jim and listen to his stories all day”.
Jim was my first official employee. He and I share many life stories; we’ve watched each other mature in age and friendship. I’m honored by the fact that I can call Trapper Jim my life long friend.
~ Mark Miller, Remote Alaska Fishing Lodge Owner