Jack Green’s initial visit to Skagway gave him a harrowing experience, but also friends for life in town.
On a visit to Skagway from the U.K. in April 2004, Green, then 69 years old, got lost for 10 hours without food or water while trying to walk around lower Dewey Lake until he was rescued by a contingent of Skagway residents: Denise and Jim Sager, Beth Smith, Mark Smith and Matt Smith.
Since his eventful trip, Green stays in contact those who saved his life. He considers them part of his family. He returned to town the week of March 18
Green was a student of American studies in college and a teacher by trade. His trip to Skagway was part of his goal to visit all the states.
While in Skagway, he wanted to take a hike before he had to leave and was told that a walk around lower Dewey Lake would make for a quick trip to a beautiful area.
Leaving around 10 a.m., it wasn’t until that he got halfway around the lake that he got disoriented and became lost.
“It got to be late afternoon and I was beginning to get cold. I decided I knew I had gotten lost,” Green said.
He had just been diagnosed with diabetes and his low blood sugar was causing him to see things, like confusing a porcupine for a bear cub.
Green was disoriented until he made his way down to the ocean side. “I knew which way Skagway was in and I tried to walk that way, but I found it increasingly difficult.”
It was around 6:30 p.m. when he made it to the waterfront, and he was able to see two boats in the distance.
“I waved to the first boat and he just waved back. I knew I was in a bit of trouble,” Green said.
He took his jacket off to signal the next boat, and it was Denise Sager who saw him.
“Denise was pregnant at the time, and she ended up being the one to spot him,” Beth Smith said. “It was a miracle.”
They approached Green, who was standing on rocks by the water, and told him that there was no way he would be able to hike back and would have to jump on to the boat.
“It would have been difficult for anyone at any age to get back on the trail,” Smith said.
The boat got as close as they could to Green and then it was up to him to jump about 5 feet to the vessel. “One of the brothers grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and pulled me on to the boat,” Green said.
The group him took him back to the Station Bar and Grill to warm up and get some food. When he said he would pay for everyone’s food, Beth Smith quickly stopped him and told him she owned the place.
After returning home, Green didn’t forget the people who helped rescue him from misadventure.
He stayed in touch and sent gifts and pictures of his family to Sager and Smith families. One gift, a quaich, a metal drinking bowl, was used in Beth and Mark’s wedding.
Ten years later in 2015, Green decided to take another trip to Skagway to reconnect with the people who helped save his life. During that trip, he broke a rib and arm in Vancouver.
That didn’t stop him from wanting to return again though, and he made another trip this March to visit his friends, bringing his daughter Judith Boyd with him.
Green has gotten to explore the town but has stayed off the trails. He did go to the base of the lower Dewey Lake trail, but the wind was too bad to go any further.
With Green’s age, 84, he doesn’t think he’ll get over to Skagway again, but hopes to see his friends again.
“I think it’ll be our turn to get over to England next,” Beth Smith said.