Reality TV is proving that beards are on a comeback with a vengeance. Nowhere is this more apparent than History’s latest hit, Mountain Men. Marty Meierotto is one of the three hard-core loners featured on the show, which is all about manning up and making ends meet in the wilderness.
In the brief bio from History they describe the Alaskan trapper this way:
Marty was 8 when his dad took him fur trapping for the first time. From that moment, he knew he’d be trapping for the rest of his life. At 25, with 10 bucks in his pocket, he set out for Alaska, where he’s now known as one of the top trappers in the territory. Marty lives in a cabin 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle with his wife Dominique and their daughter Noah.
Working the trap line means leaving his family for weeks at a time to live in his primitive one-room log cabin 200 miles from civilization. In bone-chilling isolation just a stone’s throw from the Yukon Territories, he relies on his wits to survive nature’s deadliest obstacles. It’s heartbreaking to be away from his family, but Marty’s inner spirit is calling him to the wild—and he has to listen.
Hell, that had me at, “living in a cabin 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle.” Speaking of cabin living, one of the interesting things I was able to dig up was the following video of Mr. Meierotto, labeled in the clip as “The Cabin Guru,” showing folks how to build themselves a log cabin. The clip includes Marty hammering, a loud chainsaw, terms like “marking the gable end cut” and, well, what else do you need!?!
As the lead-in image indicates, Marty was the feature cover story for the February 2010 edition of Field & Stream. It was a 12-page-article all about Marty and, thankfully, Tim Mowry with newsminer condensed that down just so I could break it down even further. In fact, I’ll just start with some of my favorite quotes:
On the repercussions of being a cover-boy and labeled, “Alaska’s toughest trapper.”
“It’s flattering, but at the same time, it’s a little embarrassing. I’m going to get a lot of ribbing over it. A lot of Alaska trappers will look at it and go, ‘Oh man, Marty, what did you do.’”
“I don’t want to sound like I don’t think it’s cool, but nobody said ‘We’ll put you on the cover.’ Nobody said, ‘this was for the survival issue.’ The whole survival thing was new to me. It makes it sound like I’m a survivalist or something.”
On finding the Field & Stream reporter who got lost at one point.
“It wasn’t a life or death thing; I was going to find him regardless, but from his perspective it was. He was pretty rattled about it. When I found him, he said, ‘I’m done. I’m done.’ I said, ‘Well, Bill, this is the boonies of Alaska, and you can be done but you’ve gotta keep going.’”
On taking the cover shot:
“We went out in the field by my house; he said he needed a backdrop that was pretty clean. We just stood out in the field. He had all these lights set up and was snapping away. I felt like one of those bikini models for a little while, but I didn’t have a powder guy.”
It’s also revealed in the article that he used to spend the entire winter out on the trap line, but things have changed since the arrival of his daughter Noah Jane. At the time of the article his schedule was one to two weeks out on the line, then back home for a day or two. Even in the wilderness of Alaska a woman and kid can still domesticate a man!
In the summertime he works as a smokejumper for the Alaska Fire Service. Because I’m about the furthest darn thing from a Marty you’ll ever find (except for the daughter, wife and beard parts), I had to look up what a smokejumper is (quit your laughing at the city boy now). Via AlaskaSmokejumpers:
The Alaska Smokejumpers are highly trained wildland firefighters. Parachuting into remote areas to conduct initial and extended attack operations, we specialize in combating wildfires that threaten life and property.
So when Marty isn’t out trapping in seriously sub-zero temps he’s parachuting out of airplanes to help fight remote wildfires. That is a bonafide all-access pass on anyone’s man card.
Meierotto is also a gifted writer who has contributed articles to TrapperPredatorCaller and the ATA (Alaska Trappers Association) among many others. You can get a great sense of the the value of snowmobiles, and how best to maintain them, for men and women like Marty in his article here. I thought I’d close this post with a section of a great article he wrote called “Because It’s Worth It.”
We’ve all had those arduous days when there just seems to be too much for one person and all things seem to have turned against you. But you survive; win the battle. When you get through the day, you have passed a test of mind, body or both. You have tempered the very metal of which you are made and you came away with a special sense of strength and accomplishment that no 9-to-5 job can ever give you.