Luc Mehl


Discovering ancient bones near McGrath. The water level in the Kuskokwim River rises and falls in response to snowmelt and rain. High water plucks trees from the muddy riverbanks, transporting them down the river. Low water strands jumbles of wood on sandbars. These wood piles are welcome to the river communities because the logs are a convenient source of firewood. I was six years old when we set out from McGrath to collect firewood. Francis, my stepdad, drove the boat upriver, so that the collected logs could then be floated downriver. Our strategy was to tie a raft of logs to the bow of the boat and gently motor the raft back to town. While my mom and Francis were sawing wood for the raft, I played games with my older brother Burke—setting up sticks for target practice with rocks or a BB gun. Burke recalls that one of the…

The Nulato Hills will never draw the attention that Alaska’s prouder mountains receive. Their voice is too subtle, rivers too tranquil. The hills quietly protect their prize with difficult access, and the reward is well worth the challenge, even if there isn’t a feast waiting at the finish.