Nineteen-year-old Bill Collins travels to Alaska in the 1920s to work and save for college. He finds adventure, misadventure, and not much money. He faces hardships, finds friends, and has experiences that change a boy into a man.
During three summers and one winter, Bill survives hunger, earthquake, stomping caribou, and icicle frost. He learns about stopes, sluice boxes, and powder smoke. He finds friends, one who will face a bear for him and enemies eager to knife him or smash him with a twenty-pound sledge. He has one lucky day and more than a few really bad days.
This is the story of one hot-headed young man determined to earn his own way, but in his own words, a true knucklehead.