49 Voices: Phil Runkle of Nicolai

Phil Runkle of Nicolai (Photo by Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media)

This week we’re hearing from Phil Runkle in Nicolai. Runkle grew up in Nicolai and raises dogs with his family.

Listen now

RUNKLE: Well I spent 37 days out in the Farewell Burn living out of an Arctic Oven on a fairly good sized lake with a nice island. We got trapping out there every winter. We usually have a trap line heading that way. And we got the dogs here — we’ve got 22 dogs at the moment. So I just thought, “Let’s just take 12 dogs out there, I’ll follow you guys” — my brother Andrew Runkle and my uncle John Dennis. They were heading out on snowmachine, and I followed them with dog team.

The first trip took two days, ’cause the dogs hadn’t gone on such a long run yet. A few days into the trip, I decided to stay, and they [his family] came back to Nicolai. It felt right, you know. It’s so peaceful out there, so quiet. I had four one-year-old dogs. It was their first big trip. They did awesome, and it was good to get that personal time with the dogs. We just doing various runs on the lake out there. Working on their gee and haw, trying to get a feel for some of the pups who might be good leaders in the future, just kinda see where they work better on the team.

And a lot of fishing. They ate a lot of pike out there.

I would have to say you need to, somewhat, be comfortable with yourself. I don’ think I would’ve made it as long as I did without the dogs.

You know, I hope to one day buy that small island. I don’t know how I would have to go about doing that, but I would like to spring out there and spend the summer there sometime.

Anne Hillman is the healthy communities editor at Alaska Public Media and a host of Hometown, Alaska. Reach her at ahillman@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Anne here.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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