Flash forward to today in Wiseman...
A question we’re often asked is how everyone in Wiseman makes a living. I’ll preface this by saying the people here are some of the smartest people we’ve ever met. Not surprising when you consider everything it takes to subsist in this part of the world. What we all share in common is self-sufficiency, a deep love for the wilderness, and for preserving this incredible place.
Although I’m not privy to the inner workings of every household, I can confidently say one’s living is usually made by a mix of government/national parks jobs, tourism-related contracts, and entrepreneurial endeavors such as running lodges/B&Bs, artistry, trapping and dog mushing.
Internet-based work hasn’t been reliable up until just this year, with the construction of an AT&T cell tower 17 miles to our south, cell phone boosting devices that amplify the signal, and companies like Starlink that are rushing to launch enough satellites to service regions of the arctic. While we're grateful for the increased bandwidth for connection, I'm also grateful I can walk outside my door for a few paces and find myself immersed in an infinite "no reception zone."
(Below: A gathering at mail day...)
Every week, on Monday at 11am, the village gathers at one couple’s home for Mail Day. Our mail gets delivered to their home in the village once a week, and the time is much more than just “grab and go.” If our schedules allow (which they usually do!) we typically stay an hour or two for tea and coffee, chatting about the latest news — of which the aforementioned Haul Road drama, subsistence rights and wildlife preservation, and tales of everyone's current projects makes for a lively conversation!
For the longest time this fall, there was a sled of 8 tiny puppies that would also attend mail day! Their mother, Iris, belongs to one of the villagers, and it came out after six weeks that they were looking for homes for the pups — ideally in the village.
You know us: If you show us puppies every week for six weeks, how can we NOT get one? Or two? (This is how we acquired our little fluffy puppies, Poss and Ulu.)
People also ask us if there are any trails here in the winter. Our answer is always an emphatic: YES! There are tons of bush trails which we all put in via primarily snowshoe and dog team, and (rarely) snowmachine. All the trails are unmarked, ungroomed, and go at your own risk — just like everything up here :-)
Winter trails are always dependent on snowpack and weather conditions year to year, but many of the same trails are made annually with names like “The Gravel Bar,” “Minnie Creek Trees,” and — new this year, “Mario Land.” There’s also somewhat of an unspoken code for re-breaking trails after big snowstorms and wind events. We all pitch in, so we can enjoy the trails all winter long.
In fact, this was a big reason we’ve been expanding our dog team the past few years… Sean and I both like to mush our own teams, and it takes 5-6 dogs per team to go the distances we want to go. Do the math, and you’ll realize quickly how we ended up at 12 dogs… and might just have a few more coming soon!
To live (and thrive) here year-round, you have to fully experience winter… and survive completely on your own. Getting outside and enjoying the season and — ideally — enjoying the chores that go with it is what keeps us from cabin fever and seasonal depression. A hefty supplement of vitamin D helps, too!
For Sean and I, dogsledding isn’t just a hobby. It has become our lifestyle — and our family. The dogs are also part of the experience for guests who visit Arctic Hive, too. We've even realized our dream of dogsled assisted backcountry skiing and snowboarding! There will be much more of that in the future as our team grows to necessary capacity.
Funny enough, there are far more dogs in Wiseman than people. As of today, there are 38 four-legged friends that call this village home. And yes, we know every single one by name!
I was moved to write all this after a few days ago, nearly the entire village got together to help a fellow neighbor raise his massive 14-18 foot walls on his new home he’s building this summer. Although it’s somewhat rare to all come together for a common cause like this, it felt good to work together. There were smiles all around after a job well-done.
As independent as we all are, I guess it truly can “take a village” :-)
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