A cabin already existed on the island, but refuge maintenance director Robin Leatherman said it was due for an upgrade.
“The one that we are replacing is one of the oldest cabins we have,” he said.
The older cabin was 11 feet by 14 feet and could fit four people, “but they’d have to be good friends,” said Coast Guardsman Russ Haslett, a volunteer on the cabin-building project.
“The cabin we built is a 16 by 20 with an 8-foot porch and overhang,” Leatherman said, and it should offer a big upgrade while providing the same views of Uganik Passage and the mountainous island off the north shore of Kodiak Island.
Leatherman said construction involved two one-week trips. The first took place in early August with himself and volunteers Lisa, Michael and Joel Hupp, who laid the raised foundation for the cabin.
The second trip took place in the last week of August. Leatherman traveled with volunteers Haslett, Pete Elizondo, Patrick Cray and employee Mike McAllister.
From Kodiak city, traveling to the cabin site involved a seven-hour trip on the refuge’s boat, the Ursa Major II. As the boat lay to offshore, the group ferried supplies ashore and set to work.
“It’s a cedar log (cabin) with a knotty pine interior, but the cabin itself is kind of a new thing,” Leatherman said.
Instead of using a standard kit that requires workers to stack logs, Leatherman chose a Panel Concepts design.
“It’s kind of the same concept as a Pan-Abode, but instead of stacking logs, you’re standing walls,” he said. “All the panels come in a 4-by-8 piece that weighs about 120 pounds per section.”
The panel design meant the crew didn’t need heavy equipment, and work progressed quickly. The crew arrived Sunday afternoon, and “We actually had the complete cabin up and roof on it by Thursday night,” Leatherman said. “We are going to put a propane heater in, there’s a gun rack, coat racks … there’s going to be four bunks and we have six chairs right now. The porch and the deck is outstanding.”
None of the nine public use cabins in the wildlife refuge have electricity, and all are accessible only by airplane or boat.
For Haslett and Elizondo, who both work for the Coast Guard, the cabin adventure was something they’ll remember.
“The three guys that were out there with us from the refuge were awesome,” said Haslett, who told Elizondo about the opportunity to volunteer.
“When I found out about this trip, I jumped on it,” said Elizondo, who has been in Kodiak for two months and works for the Coast Guard police department. “It was a great way for me to be able to volunteer and do something that was going to be beneficial to the community here in Alaska. … I told Robin that I never in my life imagined that I’d ever have the opportunity to be in a place like that, doing things like that.”
The refuge has public use cabins at nine sites including Uganik Island, and parts for a 10th cabin are in storage awaiting a site, Leatherman said.
Work on the cabin will continue next week, as a crew seals the floor and applies waterproofing to the deck.
“We’ll have it done after we get the floor done,” Leatherman said.
The Uganik Island cabin cost approximately $18,000, plus about $6,000 for shipping and $3,000 in foundation work, he said.
“It’s so people can get out there and enjoy our wildlife refuge,” he said. “They use them for everything, especially the ones near salmon streams.”
Uganik Island in particular offers fantastic scenery.
“I’ve seen whales right from this cabin a couple of times,” Leatherman said. “You’re just looking right across Uganik Bay and all you see are the rugged mountains. If you look to the left, you’ve got beaver ponds and lagoons. If you get up high enough, you can look across (Shelikof Strait) and see Katmai National Park.”
To reserve the Uganik Island cabin, which costs $45 per night, visit http://www.recreation.gov and follow the reservation instructions.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.