A friend asked a few questions about Quin so I thought I'd answer them for everybody. Thanks for the prompts Kris:)
A great, recently published article that I highly recommend reading if you are interested in the local issues in this area is called: Rural Alaska: Problems and Solutions. If I were you I would download the PFD so you can also see the pictures. It's quite profound and informative.
What is it like living in the tundra?
It's an adventure of course! Bring your mudboots.
The word "tundra" usually refers only to the areas where the subsoil is permafrost, or permanently frozen soil. The Arctic tundra is a vast area of stark landscape and is frozen for much of the year. The soil there is frozen from 9.8–35.4 inches down, and it is impossible for trees to grow. Instead, bare and sometimes rocky land can only support low growing plants such as moss, heath, and lichen. There are two main seasons, winter and summer, in the polar tundra areas. During the winter it is very cold and dark, with the average temperature around -18.4-40°F, sometimes dipping as low as -58 - 70°F. During the summer, temperatures rise somewhat, and the top layer of the permafrost melts, leaving the ground very soggy. The tundra is covered in marshes, lakes, bogs and streams during the warm months. Generally daytime temperatures during the summer rise to about 54-80°F but can often drop to 37-60°F or even below freezing.
The tundra is a very windy area, with winds often blowing upwards of 30–60 miles an hour. However, in terms of precipitation, it is desert-like, with only about 6–10 inches falling per year (the summer is typically the season of maximum precipitation). During the summer, the permafrost thaws just enough to let plants grow and reproduce, but because the ground below this is frozen, the water cannot sink any lower, and so the water forms the lakes and marshes found during the summer months. Although precipitation is light, evaporation is also relatively minimal.
Because of the permafrost (snow melting only a small layer of earth) houses cannot be built on the ground. The heat from the buildings would melt the frozen ground and the buildings would start to sink. Buildings must be on stilts, about a meter off the ground. Building houses is expensive because the materials have to be brought from the south. Homes must be well built to keep out the cold winds. It costs more to heat a home here. Sometimes during a winter storm, houses become covered with snow.
Just today I while I was walking home from school they were grading the gravel road with some pretty serious heavy equipment. I know in the spring they have heavy flooding which causes many roads to wash out and be in need of repair during the summer when the flooding subsides. In Quinhagak we are fortunate to have gravel beds from the Kanektok River only a mile out of town so we can haul gravel to repair road damage. No need to worry about pavement cracking, that's a point for the gravel roads.
How far are the mountains from the village?
The mountains while beautiful when the clouds allow visibility are basically inaccessible unless one has a jet boat, a four wheeler, a 'snow go' or plane and a free weekend. They are 15 miles as the crow flies and only increase mileage, if you go by the streams and waterways winding across tundra. Translation: I can't get to them with out the assistance of someone who has a more evolved form of transportation other than the human feet;)
Shout out to all my friends and family with new baby girls! Lily Anna, Rachel Emily and Lydia Christine:) Congratulations and Sufficient Sleeping Wishes to you all!
Have a great weekend everyone!
"You can't find firm footing in a swamp (tundra;),
but life rooted in God stands firm."