Many have asked how I ended up where I am today—on a frigid mountain slope, nestled in an alpine cabin close to the gold mines of the upper Yukon River. I wasn’t always traipsing these mountains.
Sure, this is how I got my start venturing into the wilds. Of course, most of my admirers know I made it to the North Pole helping my pals Rudolph the ruddy-nostril’d buck and Kirby the orthodontic elf. These days, I spend my time back where it all started. But I haven’t told the entire story.
Being a Gemini, I’ve always been torn between being the center of attention and isolating myself in the stark abandoned wilderness. Truth be told, though I’ve found myself center stage in front of large crowds, my heart has always longed for silence and solitude.
I’m much more comfortable with the rustling of pine needles and the cascading rumbling of an avalanche than an obligatory conversation.
I’ve always been called Yukon. That is my given name. Coincidentally, I did end up in the Yukon, my lust for backcountry and its precious minerals taking over my endeavors as a rock vocalist. I originally hail from Boston, and my first career involves being the original singer for Aerosmith, a few years prior to my imminent departure and Stephen’s arrival.
Joe Perry and the others were high school pals. They caught my solo in the performance choir during the semester assembly and asked me to join their blues-infused rock group. They said they liked my vocal style, but later told me it was the great bushy red beard and tiny raisin eyes that sold them. Yet, I do come from a long history of singers in the fam, and I’ve been blessed with pipes.
But sometimes, a blessing can be a curse.
We played the Boston circuit of restaurants and nightclubs and started to make a name for ourselves. People close to me would say, “Man, you have it all! You’re the lead singer of a kickass band. You can have all the chicks!” To them I’d say yeah right.
I had the talent but not the aptitude. Factor in the drugs, booze, intense social anxiety, lugging the equipment from gig to gig (our roadies sucked), and being paid peanuts—that’s a concoction for having very little time and energy for the fairer sex. I may have mentioned I’m a bit of an introvert. This does not pair well with being the front man of a rock group becoming increasingly popular locally and nationally.
Truth is, I was lonely. On top of gigging night after night, I took computer science classes in college as a fallback in case the pipe dream of rock stardom faded. I longed to have a girlfriend, to have that first intimate relationship my high school buddies bragged about.
When I finally met Sheila, I snapped out of my depressive state. Things were great, until you fast forward two years and the albums, gigs, booze, and drugs take their toll. Once she left me, I longed for escape.
I couldn’t do the band anymore. For one, my beard started getting tangled in the mic stands and cords. It’d get super warm onstage in my down jacket and red beanie. Most of all, it wasn’t who I really was.
Sure, I could put on the mask, the fake persona of denim crotch bulge and raspy melodic high notes, but that’s not what I wanted myself to be—with all those eyes on me, with the pressure of performance and persona. I needed to live up to my true name, not this.
At the time, I read up on the history of the Yukon Gold Rush, and by the final page I’d made up my mind. I’d part ways with Aerosmith, sell my few possessions and journey to the Pacific Northwest, venturing farther north into Canadian territory. On the backburner was to eventually cross the North Pole, to live the most severe and rugged lifestyle I could, all in search of quiet adventure, silver, and gold. Especially quiet.
I’m happy with the way things turned out. I’d never thought I’d make more friends beyond my sled dogs, but Bumble, Rudy, and Kirby are truly my favorite people. I’m back in my Yukon cabin these days, but they can all hop on a sleigh and see me in a matter of hours.
When I sit on the deck overlooking the emerald forests, glacial lakes, and snow-capped peaks, I’ll nuzzle one my huskies and think there’s no better way of living.
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Nolan writes blindfolded to become one with ninja ways. His work appears in Weekly Humorist, Robot Butt, Points In Case, Little Old Lady, and many others. He’s finishing up an MA in writing, writes when he eats, and sleeps when he writes.