Yukon Men: Did Tanana lose one of its own during dangerous spring thaw?

The spring thaw is a dangerous time for the Yukon Men on the Discovery Channel, and one of the residents of Tanana may not have made it back from the annual goose-hunting outing.

As the temperatures rise in Tanana, the Yukon Men continue to race to fill the freezers with meat, but possibly at the expense of a Tanana resident.

The winter reached down as far as 70-below-zero in Tanana, Alaska, over the winter months, but sooner or later, spring has to arrive. The warmer temperatures are now hitting Tanana with a vengeance, leaving a trail of “rotten ice” in their wake.

As ice begins to melt on ponds, lakes and rivers, it becomes mushy and weak, or, as locals call it, “rotten.” These areas are dangerous, obviously, and can quickly lead to disaster if one makes a mistake. It is important to know how to handle one’s snow machine when travelling in the spring thaw. Deadly holes open in the ice, and can swallow a snow machine, along with its rider. But, riders can skip across these holes by hydroplaning, if they know what they are doing; dipping below 30 miles per hour, however, can lead to a disastrous sinking situation, trapping the rider under the ice.

“Bob’s trying not to listen so much, gettin’ cocky,” Charlie observes of his son on their goose hunt as they try to make it across the thawing ice. “One wrong move, that’s all it takes. You can die very, very easily here in spring. … takes all day sometimes,” he says of trying to make it through the deadly ice thaws.

The (Mis?)Perceptions of Youth

All of the men were out hunting geese—Charlie, Bob, Stan, Joey, everyone. James Roberts was teaching his 14-year-old son, Francis, about goose hunting.

“I’m the oldest son,” Francis explained. “That gives me more responsibility, because I have to look after my younger brothers.” Later in the show he added, “My dad’s getting old, so I’m going to have to be teaching my brothers how to do this.”

That was one of the funnier moments of this show—from the photo above, his father does not seem to be crossing the finish line just yet—but it was a good example of how our views tend to change over time, particularly when it comes to just what qualifies one as “old.” When Francis looks back at that moment and statement one of these days—when he is the age his father is now—he’ll probably have a good laugh, shake his head, and know just what his own son is thinking of him and his “advanced” age.

The geese were slow to appear for everyone, but the ice thaw was advancing more rapidly than most of the men seemed to calculate. Some of them stayed a little too long, and were fleeing back to the safety of their homes when several of them met up by chance. It appeared that the group was on their way to being safe and warm in their respective homes, but it did not turn out that way. One man, Charlie’s brother-in-law, George Roberts, did not make it back to the village as expected. As the episode ended, everyone was making preparations to go look for George.

“A lot of times people go missing, and the outcome is wonderful when you find them alive,” Charlie said. “But, there’s many different ways you can drown on the river in the spring.”

Hopefully, George made it home alive; did he?

Stay tuned.

Yukon Men airs on the Discovery Channel on Friday nights at 10/9c.

UPDATED: George doesn't make it home, Tanana mourns his loss

Image: Discovery Channel

Comments

Submitted by FrancisRoberts (not verified) on
My dad showed me this and laughed, when my younger brothers are my age(now 2 years old) my father (James) will not be able to teach him the stuff he is teaching me now...but nice try guys, take care

Submitted by Heather in Bama (not verified) on
Francis - your comments were cute ; we all had a laugh. Even if you do think your dad is 'old ', I still think he's HOT!! Love the show, guys!!