Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dorner and the Mad Trapper Story

Finally, after weeks of nothing, a cornucopia of things to writer about. First, the Chris Dorner standoff last night reminds me of the famous true story of the manhunt for the Mad Trapper of Rat River.
Mad Trapper's destroyed cabin.
Several years ago while flying from Inuvik to a lake at the headwaters of the Porcupine River our bush pilot took a detour over a stretch of wilderness. Our pilot wanted to see the the place where the hunt for Albert Johnson, the Mad Trapper, had begun.

In the winter of 1931, fur trappers in a remote region of the Yukon complained to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that a rogue trapper was messing with their equipment. Johnson shot at the Mounties sent to investigate then barricaded himself in his 8 by 10 foot cabin.

Mounties retreated and returned to Johnson's cabin with reinforcements and dynamite. After a short siege in minus 40 degree temperatures the Mounties tossed dynamite on the roof of Johnson's cabin. The explosion destroyed the shelter (see above). When Mounties approached the ruins of the cabin to remove Johnson's corpse the very much alive Albert Johnson fired at the officers from a bunker he had dug under the floor of his cabin.

The Mounties retreated to their barracks for still more reinforcements. The returned to find that Johnson had set out on foot towards Alaska during one of the coldest winters in Yukon history.

Mounties tracked Johnson from the ground and air for weeks. Johnson was traveling by snowshoe faster than experienced guides could follow him on dogsleds. The Mounties blockaded the only passes over the Richardson Mountains so Johnson climbed a 7,000 foot ridge during a blizzard without any climbing gear.

Johnson couldn't hunt or light a fire because either action would reveal his location to his pursuers. In less then three days he traveled over 85 miles across rugged wilderness, in darkness (at that latitude and time of year the nights are 22 hours long), in temperatures so cold spit would freeze before it hits the ground.

Airplane pilots finally found Johnson's fresh trail on the frozen Eagle River. They trapped Johnson in the open. A firefight broke out where one Mountie was seriously wounded. It took nine bullets to kill Albert Johnson.

During the manhunt, Johnson killed one Mountie and wounded two. He performed feats of survival that natives to the Yukon considered impossible. And to this day nobody knows who Albert Johnson was, even if that was his real name, or where he came from. He has become a Canadian legend.
A painting hanging in the Mad Trapper Pub, Inuvik, Canada

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the LA police -- shoot first, then figure out why.