The Last Alaskans may be one of the most beautifully filmed reality shows about Alaska and the people who live there. The Last Alaskans has it all, from the continuing drama of Bob Harte and his serious health issues, to 20-year-old Charlie Jagow just starting out on his own.
The Last Alaskans is currently following five homesteaders who live in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). According to the Washington Post, a congressional act passed in 1980 effectively banned further human occupation in the refuge. The five featured families are living hundreds of miles from the nearest city, and most of them live several miles from one another. Only seven cabin permits remain under a grandfather clause, which means only the occupants and any other immediate descendants, such as their children, can live on the refuge.
What makes this Alaska reality series different is the way the individual families’ stories are told. The camera crew for The Last Alaskans is, for the most part, there to just follow and film events as they unfold. The stories that emerge are often poignant and heart-wrenching, but uplifting at the same time. The common theme that runs through The Last Alaskans is that the circle of life is always moving forward. Although there is nothing anyone can do to stop or slow time, these hardy and brave homesteaders try to live the very best life possible, while doing what they enjoy in a place they clearly love.
Older homesteaders featured on The Last Alaskans such as Bob Harte and Heimo Korth, are facing the fact that as they age, their lives in the refuge are changing. For Bob Harte, his battle with cancer forced him this season on The Last Alaskans to leave his cabin. Listening to him describe his life and how much he longs to stay in his home was heartbreaking. He shared, during a recent video clip, that to him, living in sync with nature is very important. His pain at the thought of leaving was so genuine and moving, that it was almost palpable through the screen. He has been through so much in his life and he makes it clear that if he were in better health, he would stay at the cabin with his beloved dog, Ruger.
For Heimo and his wife, Edna, the changes weren’t quite as drastic this season on The Last Alaskans, although they went through their own period of sadness and reflection when they were forced to burn down a cabin that was no long habitable. Their children, including a daughter that died at the age of two, had lived in the cabin and it definitely held a lot of memories for the entire family.
This season on The Last Alaskans, Heimo and Edna built a new cabin and their grown daughters joined them in order to lend a hand and reminisce. After Heimo set fire to the cabin, he and Edna shared a touching moment as they watched the structure burn to the ground. Both of them agreed that was what should happen so that the land could return to its natural state where the cabin once stood.
Ray and Cindy Lewis are in a transitional period in their life as well during this season of The Last Alaskans. Their three daughters are on the brink of leaving the nest, and they both realize any time they have together as a family out on the refuge is becoming even more precious. They also take a nostalgic look at one of their older cabins that they haven’t been back to for years, and only the oldest daughter remembers living there. Together, the family makes needed repairs as they travel down memory lane.
Tyler and Ashley Selden were the newest family on the refuge, but this season on The Last Alaskans they are beginning to find their stride. They have had a successful trapping season, and use their sled dogs to transport them around the trap lines. They are thinking of starting a family soon, and they talk about what it would be like to have a child grow up in the pristine beauty of the refuge.
Charlie Jagow may be a newcomer to The Last Alaskans, but he is no stranger to the refuge. According to TV Ruckus, he has grown up there and has now ventured out on his own. He is in the process of building a cabin and setting up his own trap lines. Since Charlie has his own plane, he was able to scout from the air a good route to set his trap lines on. Charlie seems wise beyond his years, and is already very knowledgeable about the refuge and what it takes to live there. The cabin he is building is impressive and should serve him well.
Wonderfully produced and beautifully photographed, The Last Alaskans is definitely one series worth checking out. Although The Last Alaskans just wrapped up the second season, anyone interested in watching The Last Alaskans can do just that through Discovery GO. Several episodes of The Last Alaskans will be airing on the Discovery Channel as well, just check your local listings.
[Image via The Last Alaskans/Twitter]