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Cheechako (standard:adventure, 6463 words)
Author: drksideofthemoonAdded: Jul 26 2007Views/Reads: 1655/965Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A man searches for riches in the gold fields of the Klondike.
 



drksideofthemoon© 2006 

While this story is fictional, the facts surrounding this story are
true. On August 16th, 1896 gold was discovered at Bonanza Creek by 
three men, George Carmacks, Skookum Jim, and Tagish Charlie. Most of 
the world was oblivious to the gold strike until the steamship 
Excelsior docked in San Francisco on July 15th, 1897. On board were 
miners and a half million dollars in gold. Three days later a crowd of 
five thousand greeted the arrival of sixty-eight miners on the 
steamship Portland in Seattle. Also on board was a million dollars in 
gold from the Klondike. The rush was on. It is said that over one 
hundred thousand stampeders headed for the gold fields and only thirty 
thousand completed the journey. 

Cheechako was a Chinook word to describe newcomers. In the Klondike it
was used to describe a person who hadn't spent a full winter in the 
Yukon. 

I had journeyed north from Seattle to the Klondike as soon as I heard
the whisperings of gold being discovered. I arrived in Dyea in January 
of eighteen-hundred and ninety-eight. All of my fellow passengers had 
the same dream. Pull that damned bitch called Gold from the ground, 
fill my pockets with her and return a rich man. 

She had held me in her grip, she was like a sickness. I was like a drunk
following her siren's song. I had sold everything I had and left my 
life behind. I had been told that miners were being met at the Canadian 
border and weren't being allowed to cross unless they had a years worth 
of supplies. I was glad that I had purchased most everything that I 
would need in Seattle and paid the cost of having it transported on the 
ship that brought me north. Merchants in Dyea and Skagway were charging 
ten times and more what the goods had sold for in Seattle. 

There were men in Skagway that would transport goods up over the White
Pass by horse and pack mule. I lacked the necessary funds, so like 
most; I hauled my supplies up over the Chilkoot Trail. Fifty-three 
trips I made up and down that stairway to Hell. A solid string of men, 
and yes, even some women snaked their way up that grueling trail. I 
heard stories of men falling and taking hours to get back in the line. 
No one wanted to stop and let someone in the line for fear of stopping 
and not having the energy to start again. It was mind-numbing and 
back-breaking, one step after another, and each step was up. There was 
no respite, no flat areas to catch one's breath. Just one more step, 
moving ever higher up the side of the mountain with the weight of the 
pack tearing at my shoulders. 

I paid what little money I had left to a brawling, boozing woman,
Two-Gun Tessie to stand guard over my stash at the top of the trail. 
She guarded my goods, and the goods of many other would be gold miners 
with an eagle eye and a shotgun in her hand and a pistol on her hip. 
Tess had a lusty laugh and bawdy sense of humor. From what I saw of 
her, she could out-drink, out-fight, and out-shoot most of the men in 
the Klondike. I lost track of her once we set sail on Lake Bennett. I 
never did know what became of her. 

I lost count of the number of days I climbed that murderous trail. I
spent both night and day following the back of the man directly in 
front of me until the top of the trail was breeched. How I cursed that 
bitch named Gold with every step I took. I screamed in agony for my 
release from her. I had sworn no oath, nor had I signed any pledge, but 
still, she held me like none other. She came to me in my dreams, making 
promises I knew she would not keep. I swore each time before I reached 
the top, that once back at the bottom I would find passage back south 
and leave that cursed land behind. Each time, when I got to the bottom 
I would be back in the grip of gold-lust, and I would load my pack once 
again and make my way back up that chain of human misery. 

There would be no rest for the seekers of Satan's Horde. The supplies
still had to be hauled overland to Lake Bennett. Two thousand pounds of 
goods to be moved from the summit of the Chilkoot to the shores of Lake 
Bennett, and a detachment of the Northwest Mounted Police at the border 
to ensure each man had the required ton of supplies. 

There were a stern looking lot, those men with their scarlet tunics and
Stetson hats. There were thousands of men like myself and scarcely a 


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