As if things weren't challenging enough for the cast of Life Below Zero, they also have to contend with near complete darkness for a couple of months out of the year. And in an exclusive clip ahead of the Sept. 12 episode, Sue Aikens shows just how treacherous things can be when it's snowy, windy, and totally dark in the middle of the day.
In the clip, Sue describes the conditions as "dark winter" and that's the term used for the period of more than two months during the winter when the sun remains hidden and darkness envelops the area. It's something that many who are native to the most northern part of Alaska are accustomed to. But that doesn't make it any easier for even experts like Sue to navigate at times.
What is the dark winter on 'Life Below Zero'?
In the clip, Sue drives the trusty Big Red, a large tank-like truck that helps her drive through the wintry conditions at Kavik River Camp. And, she explains, driving on a highway that is also a frozen over river is pretty typical. However, she admits, it's "difficult to trust" the road. But it's what she has to do in order to move through the area safely.
"You might ask, why in the heck am I going at night," Sue tells producers in the Life Below Zero clip. "It's not night. This is Alaska, top of Alaska, in the middle of winter. And it's dark most of the time. So if you want to do anything, any chore, any hunting, any discovery, you're gonna be doing it a lot in the dark."
But don't worry, because Mother Nature evens things out in the summer months in the same part of Alaska. From May to July, the sun doesn't totally set in the Fairbanks area in Alaska. And although it's located a few hundred miles south of where Sue is, that's certainly something to look forward to during the dark winter. Even though the dark winter is as harsh as possible, as shown in the Life Below Zero clip, there's a (literal) light at the end of the tunnel.
Sue Aikens runs Kavik River Camp in Alaska.
Both on and off Life Below Zero, Sue is known for Kavik River Camp in the northernmost part of Alaska. She has owned and operated the camp for more than 20 years and its close proximity to the Arctic Circle makes it a solid option for those who want to brave the cold elements for a chance to truly rough it out in the wilderness.
You can visit the camp or make a reservation to stay there for more than a day-long visit. You can even reserve the entire camp for the day. However, in both instances, you'll need to contact the Kavik River Camp by email for rates and availability. Just don't forget how wild the dark winter can be in Alaska.
Life Below Zero and Life Below Zero: Next Generation are produced by BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions.
Watch Life Below Zero on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on National Geographic.