Chip Hailstone is from Montana; his wife Agnes is a Native Alaskan. They live with seven children on the Kobuk River, and are hunter/gatherers/swappers, living near a little town as they do. Kate and Andy Bassich live on the Yukon River with a whole pack of fish-farting sled dogs, and came from Washington, D.C. They use a considerable amount of machinery, and Andy is a skilled carpenter. Sue Aikens lives alone in Kavik, which is not near anywhere, and tends a plane-refueling operation and hunting/fishing lodge. In addition to her outdoor skills, she has considerable technical knowhow which she needs to keep her cranky generators, pump, refrigerators, et al, functioning. She is the oldest of the bunch, the funniest and, at 50, the most aware of her mortality.