The Christians

The Christians

No, not those who belong to the religion, but our friends Peter & Patty Christian who live in the Kenny Lake area along the Edgerton Highway.  I met Peter last year when I did some aerial photography for the National Park Service up in Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve.  He is a law enforcement ranger and pilot for the Park Service.  At the time, he was stationed at the Marion Creek Ranger Station for Gates of the Arctic, just north of Coldfoot, where he and his family had lived for seven years.  All-in-all, he served the Brooks Range area, starting with Kotzebue, for thirteen years.  But, due to changes in the winter management for the park – the NPS decided not to spend the funds needed to have a winter presence in Gates of the Arctic – Peter and Patty had to make a decision as to where they would go next.  They decided, and I think rightfully so, to take a post as the District Ranger for the Chitina District for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve.

When I knew that we would be heading to McCarthy as part of our Around-Alaska trek with Daniel, I emailed Peter and indicated I would like to connect when we were in the area.  When we were in Fairbanks, Patty offered for us to stay a night at their new home.  Remembering that they had three boys – Elias, Brooks and Orion – and knowing Daniel would prefer a break from the adults, we accepted.  I also knew it would be nice to have a break before we embarked on the 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive it would take to go the 90 miles to McCarthy from the Richardson Highway (the McCarthy Road is a gravel road that is graded only twice a year by the Alaska DOT, so the optimum speed is 30 mph at best).

Upon pulling into the Christian’s property, the two things you notice at first are the classic and beautiful log home – with moose antlers – off to the left and the sea of sled dog homes off to the right.  You really know you are visiting real Alaskans when you see sled dogs.  Many people who live out away from the urban areas rely heavily on sled dogs for getting around in the winter.  They are an important asset for those many times when vehicles won’t work or cannot get you where you want to go, whether it is for hunting, trapping, or simply exploring.

After a delicious dinner of moose meat tacos – a moose they had shot themselves – we took a walk down a trail to a spectacular view, replete with wooden benches for sitting, courtesy of the students at the nearby Kenny Lake Elementary School.  The view of the mountains was a bit obscured by the clouds that have been in the area bringing much-needed rains, but the view below to the Tonsina River was fantastic.  Weaving among the gravel bars laden with large fallen trees, the swift gray waters flow their way down to the Chitina River.

Daniel enjoyed playing with the twin cats, Minnie and Marion, as well as the old dog of the house, Rora, and any of the sled dogs that would let him pet them.  And that was when he was not jumping on the trampoline with the other boys.  I think one of the highlights, though, was the next morning when Peter took him out on an ATV (what we call Four-Wheelers in Alaska) and let him drive for a while.

Alaska is known for its beautiful landscapes and amazing animals, as well as its many outdoor recreational opportunities.  But its hidden treasure, one that I think most people don’t think of exploring when they visit, its its lifestyle, its people.  As a photographer, I am often blessed with getting to know people of all sorts of backgrounds.  Fortunately for me, my photography allowed me to get to know Peter and Patty.

One Response to “The Christians”

  1. Peter C. Says:

    Hey Carl,

    Thank you for portraying our family in such a nice light. We certainly enjoyed your visit and hope you come out here again. I’m glad we got to meet during our aerial photography flights and maybe we can do that here in the Wrangells. We all enjoyed getting to see you and your family, too. I hope your trip to McCarthy was a fun and worthy endeavor. Please let me know how to get a print of your beautiful photo of the “Gates” that I admired so much on your web page!

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