Round River community is located fifty nine miles upstream from McGrath on the Kuskokwim River, and approximately 225 miles NW of Anchorage. Our land is completely surrounded by thousands of acres of roadless state and federal forest land. One end our 80 acres abuts a two and a half mile long wild lake, and at the other end is the second largest river in Alaska.
The surrounding lands are rich in wildlife -- moose, bear, wolves, trumpeter swans and a variety of smaller animals.
The lake harbors Northern pike and whitefish, and the river has three kinds of salmon, sheefish, burbot, pike and grayling. There are a half dozen kinds of wild berries in the area. Gardening season is from mid-May till mid-September with a frost free season of around a hundred days.
Our creek and river in November
River freeze-up in late October
Andrew - was born in Europe, where he lived till the age of eleven. Most of his adolescent and young adult life was spent in cities - Chicago, San Antonio, Cincinnati - where the attempt was made to indoctrinate him into orthodox society by parents, priests, and the ubiquitous teevee. And for a while he bought into this all pervasive pecuniary version of the good life. But ultimately none of it made any moral, emotional, or rational sense to him, nor did it make him happy, so in 1979 he moved to the woods, where he lived in a log cabin in the Gila Ntl. Forest for three years and raised goats and chickens, grew a big garden, read Thoreau, Ed Abbey, and other traitors to the American dream. It was there that he decided what his final life trajectory would take. After two or three more years fumbling around cities making money, he finally saved enough to a buy forty acre parcel on the Flute Reed river in northeastern Minnesota near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness - a place he lived in happily ever after. Happily that is, until the tourists and the second home crowd discovered the country. They widened and paved the roads, built McMansions on every available lake, and turned the country into a Disneyfied Wally Wilderness World. And so seventeen years ago he fled North to Alaska. On March 4th 2000 he was dropped off here, with all his worldly possessions, by a DC-3 on skis. He writes, "Living here alone for the next thirteen years was difficult, sometimes dangerous, and often very lonely. I am no misanthrope. Like all humans I need people. Just not in the huge anonymous locust like numbers found in the Lower 48. So after many years alone I decided in to build a small community of like-minded folks here in the Alaska bush. Round River is the fledgling result. The community name comes from an essay by Aldo Leopold in which he talks of the interdependence of soil, water, plants, and animals in the Round River of life."
Candice and pike
Joan - grew up in the rolling hills and forests of amish country, Pennsylvania, where she split her time between running through the woods climbing trees, and eating ice cream while playing video games. she didn’t grow up knowing what plants and berries to eat or how to hunt, but it turns out she read enough fantasy novels to dream of a simpler lifestyle, and ended up moving into an intentional community at age 19 to start to figure it out. that led to researching her way towards a sustainable life - from natural building methods to forest gardening, tanning hides to basketry, and healing with wild medicinal herbs. as she lived in different communities and gathered experience, she realized that living in tiny shacks and growing and gathering food were more appropriate challenges to her personality than holding down a job and keeping an apartment. In the spring of 2016, joan moved with her honey bjorn to round river. now she can joyfully flee mosquitoes, swim in the river, tan hides and turn them into clothing, craft bark baskets, stay healthy with wild plants, and revel in a simple life in the middle of nowhere. her one wish is that her life will continue to get even more basic and handcrafted, working away from industrial society and toward a glorious future primitive.
Bjorn enjoying battered pike
Bill- bio coming soon
On the lake
Extremes, more than anything else, give interior Alaska and its people their character - extremes of temperature, light, precipitation, distances, of geologic and biologic fury and dormancy, of apathy and paroxysm. It is a land sometimes fierce and romantic, and at times somber and indifferent - an EKG gone through the roof and through the floor. It has the shortest seasons you've ever seen, and the longest, with months of darkness and dusk, and a half year later twenty four hours of light'. There are spells of sixty below, when nothing, neither living nor dead, moves, and hot muggy days when mosquitoes cover every square inch of your body, and brilliant dry March afternoons, when sunlight reflecting from snow, does the same. It has months on end when not a drop water falls from the sky, then times when it drizzles day and night a month straight.
It has extreme distances to neighbors, to your family Outside, to villages and towns, to progress, to a mug of beer. This is at once hungry country with thousands of square miles of seemingly nothing but trees, rock, water, and sky, and times and places when it teems with birds, animals, and fish like nowhere else on the planet. What brings most people to the Alaska bush is adventure. It is here in spades. There are those who would prefer life in the city, perhaps in a condo inside a gated community, next to a hospital, where they can safely relax in their Lazy Boys, with beer in hand, experiencing their adventure by proxy, in high definition, on the Discovery channel.
But then reality TV is a far cry from reality. Isn't it?.
Andrew and his prosthetics
Candice- grew up very remote in the high sierras, living off grid and knowing how to be comfortable cooking on a wood stove, enjoying gravity flow water from a mountain spring, and bathing in a washtub by the fire. Her friends were orphaned fawns, my dachsunds, and injured critters, from porcupines to skunks, that were brough to her to nurse back to health. She moved to the Pacific Northwest when her youngest daughter was 4. There she lived off the land, and despite only a three month growing season, put up a year’s supply of fruits and vegetables as well as raising chickens, pigs, geese, horses, and goats. She lived 25 miles from town, and with her husband away at work for weeks on end, she and her daughter were surrounded by beautiful wilderness. She writes, "I always wanted to live in Alaska, ever since I was young. I wrote to Alaskan pen pals to get a sense of the place, and when I saw Andrew’s ad for Round River, I read a familiar story about someone leaving their home due to development and clear cutting, and knew I had to get in touch. We stayed in touch for several years before Andrew came down to the lower 48 for a visit, and I decided it was time for me to head to Alaska to see if Round River was the place for me. The second I got here, I walked straight to the lake and looked at the mountain… and I didn’t go back. I was going to go home for the winter, but I couldn’t do it. And so here I have stayed."
Candice and pike
Joan fleshing a hide
Bjorn - grew up in the Pacific Northwest, fishing with his grandfather and brothers. He spent a significant amount of time in the woods, building ‘forts’ and other fun stuff. After 25+ years in EMS, then working as a traditional blacksmith and teaching skills to unsuspecting city folks on the ways of survival and living away from ‘the grid’, Bjorn now lives in the Alaskan woods, building ‘forts’ and other fun stuff. Bush skills like building from natural materials, to hunting and trapping keep Bjorn from slipping back into civilization to become a compliant consumer. Bjorn would rather stalk a moose or bear all day than spend 15 minutes in traffic. He teaches bush skills to interns who come to the land for long term visits. For more information, see our Logistics page.
Bill Munchin' on moose and mashies