Despite having fairly mild winters recently, learning essential, life-saving survival skills is taken very seriously by everyone on Life Below Zero: The Thaw. Some have learned the hard way, while others are being taught from an early age how to not just survive, but to thrive in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.
Chip and Agnes Hailstone have several children, and they are teaching them everything they know. With the first thaw, they are very aware that the clock is ticking, and most of the short spring and summer months are spent preparing for the brutal winter months ahead. Agnes recently inherited some land, and last season was spent building a structure and getting supplies in before the freezing winter weather set in. They’re hoping that the new camp will help to increase their harvest of much-needed resources.
The Nat Geo Channel recently posted to Twitter a Life Below Zero video of the Hailstone family net fishing for salmon. Chip explains that they will be catching different types of salmon, and that the fish are used not just as food for themselves and their dogs, but that the fish can be used for so much more.
“We’re gonna make dog food and people food and food for gifts and giving and trading, and whatever else we feel like doing,” Chip explains in the clip.
For the Hailstones, bringing in a good supply of salmon is crucial for their survival next winter, and they will spend several days net fishing, which is a very effective, native method that has been passed down through the generations. Salmon is a valuable resource to the Hailstones, and once they start catching fish, everyone pitches in to help bring them in.
Sue Aikens lives alone during the winter at her camp in Kavik, and with spring approaching she must stay vigilant to keep predators away. A sneak-peek clip of the first Life Below Zero episode titled “Confrontation” finds Sue on her snow machine checking out an animal that she believes may be a wolverine or a wolf. As she tracks an animal out on the tundra, she realizes that it is one of the foxes that hang around Kavik.
“The defense of Kavik rests squarely on these two shoulders,” she remarks as she heads back.
Sue has every reason to be wary. In the past on Life Below Zero Sue talked about being mauled by a bear and she also took a bad fall in camp. More recently, Life Below Zero viewers watched in horror as she suffered a serious injury to her shoulder when she was thrown from her snow machine. Fortunately for Sue, there was a Life Below Zero camera crew with her, and they were able to help her get back to camp. The next day she was flown out to seek treatment for her injuries. Despite everything, Sue always gets back up and pushes through the pain of her injuries so she can continue doing what she loves.
She talked with Reality Blurred about what it’s like to run Kavik and along with her bluntness and honesty, Sue also came across as very caring and passionate. Although most of her days are spent doing chores that need done or helping clients that need assistance, she does have days where not much is going on.
“Occasionally, life is boring, and that’s part of life’s story, too. But my boring may not be your boring. For an easy, boring day, I have 15 foxes that just hang out with me and do their thing,” Sue explained. I don’t feed ’em, I don’t train ’em, after 12 years they know I’m not gonna shoot them, so they buddy up to me. 60 mile-per-hour winds, things falling through your roof: that’s a regular day.”
Life Below Zero posted to their Facebook page a video that shows Sue making a balm from balsam trees that she uses to ease her aches and pains. With the types of injuries Sue has suffered, this home remedy seems to do the trick for sore muscles and joints. Nothing comes easy, and she must travel away from camp to gather the clippings she needs to make the salve. She hopes that the balm will help keep her limber enough to help her maintain the type of lifestyle she is accustomed to.
Even though life can be extremely hard and downright dangerous in the wilds of Alaska, there is no other place these hardy men and women of Life Below Zero would rather be. Glenn Villeneuve lives in a cabin in the remote location of Chandalar, Alaska, and he prefers to be very hands-on with everything he does. He has stated on Life Below Zero that he prefers to chop down trees with an axe instead of using a chainsaw, and often builds new structures with materials provided strictly by the environment that surrounds him. Glenn has a deep respect and love for his surroundings, and it shows in everything he does.
At this time, there is no other information about previous cast members such as Jesse Holmes returning, so check back for further updates. Are you a fan of the show? Leave your comments, thoughts, and opinions below. Life Below Zero: The Thaw premieres on Tuesday, October 18 at 9 p.m. ET on the Nat Geo Channel.
[Featured Image by Nat Geo Channel]