On a sunny day in Nome, we strapped our gear onto our ATVs and rode along the Bering Sea. Driving ATVs on the beach, manoeuvring between driftwood, riding over rocks and skimming through the cold water gives an adrenaline rush.
Our destination was Fort Davis, a local fish camp and home to fellow expedition member, Jenny’s great grandparents’ cabin. Fish camps are where families will go to harvest, process, and dry fish. Or at least they used to.
When we arrived, Fort Davis was essentially abandoned. Jenny’s family cabin had been beaten by a harsh storm that hit the north-west coast of Alaska several years ago, and its remaining skeleton had been bleached grey by the sun. Though the cabin was boarded up, we could peer through its dusty glass windows to see a moment frozen in time.
The clock on the wall read 1:50, there were cups on the dining table, and parkas on hooks beside the door. The storage adjacent to the cabin had been torn away during the storm. It once housed Jenny’s great grandpa’s, Willie Senungetuk’s Umiaq (skin boat in Inupiaq), harpoon, and hunting tools.
But now all that was left beside the cabin was a mangled mix of flotsam and jetsam: fishing rods, orange buoys, blue tarp, oil cans, a clump of rusted nails and other tetanus-inducing items. Jenny gave us a tour of the remnants, pointing out childhood items like her older brother Jake’s bicycle, now rusted and stiff.
The family’s camp is in too much disarray to fix, and fixing it is not entirely worth it because the increase in coastal erosion over the years has lead to a significant decrease in land at the camp.
“One of these days the sea is going to take everything on my family’s land with it, therefore it is not worth the money to restore the cabin or build a new structure. More....