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Reading the North

Flight of Gold: Two Pilots' True Adventure Discovering Alaska's Legendary Gold Wreck

Kevin A. McGregor (In-Depth Editions, $19.95)

The blurb: On March 12, 1948, Northwest Airlines Flight 4422, a DC-4 with a crew of six carrying 24 Merchant Marines on a six-leg flight from Shanghai to New York, crashed high up on Alaska's Mt. Sandford. Air reconnaissance flights spotted the charred remains of the plane, but the site was too remote for recovery teams. Rumors that the plane had been transporting gold and diamonds immediately erupted and enticed treasure hunters to the mountain.

Excerpt: An interesting pair of expedition situations on Mount Sanford occurred in 1989 when six people, not including their bush pilots, made it to the 4422 glacier. The original plan called for one expedition team, but ended up being two, one led by NWA Captain Ed Becker and the other by NWA Captain Robert Lowenthal. In short, it became a race for the gold.

The original expedition was planned during a layover at NWA's hotel near Tokyo, Japan. Becker carefully outlined his plans to seek the treasure said to be on the lost DC-4 and invited Lowenthal to go with him. After discussing his plan to find the fabled airliner, Becker gave Lowenthal the phone number of the place where they would rendezvous at Glennallen, Alaska.

Over the next several weeks, Becker contacted Hartmut Pluntke, the NWA ramp agent who had heard, firsthand, Tiny Eglund's rendition about the secret box he had seen on 4422 in 1948 and the papers marked "payroll." Pluntke, an experienced glacial mountain climber from Germany, understood he had been invited to be part of Becker's search for Flight 4422.

Alaska Mountain Man: Recipes and Stories

Jim "Red Dog" Dunlap (Haystack Mountain Books, $18.99)

The blurb: The book is a 40-year Alaskan's favorite time-tested drink and food recipes mixed in with his personal stories about cooking, fun and brewing. There are plenty of good fishing and hunting tales to bring readers a taste of the outdoor life, from Cook Inlet's Alexander Creek to the Yukon River. This book gives the true feel of a life of adventure and Interior Alaska cuisine ranging from the poor man's lobster, burbot, to preparing a bear luau in the Alaska town of Central. If you like food, hunting, fishing and maybe a little home brew, you'll enjoy these tales told by one long-time Alaskan who had fun in the process. (alaskahaystackmountain.com)

Excerpt: Moose Summer Sausage by Curler Bill

Ingredients:

35 pounds moose meat, 15 pounds pork

1 pound non-iodized salt, 4 ounces black pepper

1 tablespoon dissolved saltpeter, 2 boxes mustard seed

Double-grind and stuff in three-inch casings. Coldsmoke for 48 hours. Cook in the oven before eating.

Curler Bill has been using this recipe for many years. It tastes great.

Sourdough Quote: You only need two tools in life -- WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40 and if it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

'A' is for Anaktuvuk: Teacher to the Nunamiut Eskimos

Naomi Gaede-Penner (Tate Publishing, $21.99)

The blurb: When Anna Bortel flew with a bush pilot/doctor to Anaktuvuk Pass to do an educational assessment, the villagers begged her to return and teach. Anna knew the daily living requirements would be steep, much more so than those of teaching. She deliberated. She prayed. She accepted the challenge. A year later, Ernest Gruening, U.S. Senator from Alaska, held up Ann Bortel as the ideal teacher, "one able to comprehend their problem, one kind and sympathetic, and above all one able to adjust to all conditions that might face her."

Excerpt: I cozied up to the fire to thaw my still-frozen feet and pulled off my useless boots. My soggy socks hung down over my shoes.

"Oh, look!" I exclaimed when I peeled off another wet layer.

The brown dye from my loafers had stained my socks and toenails a dirty orange. The girls laughed as though it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen.

Two tents sheltered the fire. I stayed inside this comfortable circle and warmed my colored toes. Susie stirred a large, cut-down Blazo fuel can of tea water. She could only say a word or two in English, and I did not know Inupiaq, so we shared one another's presence.

When she considered that the meat was ready, she presented me with broiled bear rib and bear claw along with a cup of very strong, hot tea. I knew what to do with the rib and the tea, but the claw was perplexing. I gingerly picked at it with my fingers.

Elijah teased, "You not like Eskimo food? We teach you."

His eyes twinkled beneath craggy eyebrows, and his long, pointed chin dropped down when he laughed.

The taste reminded me of whale blubber or muktuk. What if my friends could see me with this bear claw?

Simon and Susie had brought along several of their huskies as pack animals. After the meal and while the men dressed out more of the bear, we women folks walked with the dogs to the site of the recent caribou kill approximately three-fourths of a mile away. My, could those girls cut meat quickly! They made chunks into sizes that could be dropped into cariibou hide packs on the dogs' backs. Each dog carried between twenty and thirty pounds of meat, a hefty load by any account. In this culture, where it appeared the wheel had not yet been invented, man and woman's best friend, the dog, had work that was never done.

Mabel laughed behind me as we returned to camp. "You look just like an Eskimo."

I suppose I did. I carried a caribou skin over my shoulders, and a dog walked slowly by my side. I took her words as a lovely compliment.

That night, I was bedded as a royal guest with a sleeping bag on three caribou skins. The long journey, full stomach, and toasty bed eased me into slumber. Even though I thought back over the unusual bear claw meal, I didn't have nightmares.

Compiled by Kathleen Macknicki, Anchorage Daily News