With winter just around the corner, many of us are thinking about cold weather, snow, and staying indoors where it’s nice and toasty. But, if you’re Jessie Holmes, thoughts like that are nothing more than child’s play. Jessie is one of the stars of the hit reality television show “Life Below Zero”, which airs on the National Geographic Channel. The show highlights and celebrates the brave and hardy men and women who not only brave the harsh yet beautiful Alaskan elements, but also embraces them. Jessie is one of those people.
Although he was born in Alabama, Holmes left home at the young age of 16. Dead set to reach Alaska and begin the life he dreamed of, Jessie jumped freight trains, risking life and limb to pursue a dream and lifestyle that many wouldn’t or couldn’t understand. But, he did indeed reach Alaska, and there he started his true journey.
Over the years since starting his new self-sufficient and unique life in the harsh Alaskan wilderness, Jessie has learned multiple useful and productive survival skills from what he himself calls the Alaskan “old timers”. Just one of those skills, and perhaps the most useful in terms of barter with his neighbors, is his talent for carpentry. Through his gained knowledge of those who came before him and were willing to teach him, Jessie has perfected the art of building traditional fish wheels, dog sleds, boats, and even sturdy cabins that can withstand the harsh environment. He builds what he needs for himself and by himself, and creates other pieces to sell, barter, or is commissioned to build by the other people who live along the Nenana River.
Through his talent Holmes is able to earn the living he’s always desired, even if it seems extremely meager to the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, his estimated net worth is… unknown. As someone who lives his entire life year round in the Alaskan wilderness and makes most of his living through trade, working for his neighbors along the Nenana River, or through his own hard work and dedication, there simply isn’t a way to put a pricetag on his way of life.
Holmes has shown the viewers of the show that he isn’t the slightest bit afraid of a hard day (or night) of work. In order to survive Alaska’s extreme winters, Jessie spends his summers and falls using his fish wheel to capture salmon, estimating that he catches around 3,000 fish each season. The rest of the year is spent hunting rabbit, moose, caribou, and beaver. He is also adept at trapping lynx, wolverine, and muskrat for their furs. The valuable furs of these animals are useful for not only creating warm clothing, but for trading and/or selling to his neighbors in Nenana, Alaska where he resides. His sense of self-reliance and his dedication to doing things the way they’ve always been done ensures that he’s not only always busy, but that his very survival rests in his own hands. Not to mention the survival, training, and care that his 44 sled dogs require. As an accomplished and skilled musher, Jessie has taken the time to personally breed, raise, and train each and every dog in his own way. He and his dogs race competitively, and have made a name for themselves in the dog sled racing circuit. His loyal and well-trained pack also help Holmes haul wood, haul the successful captives of his traps, and allows him to run dog sled tours. The sled dogs and Jessie truly are a match that relies on and trusts one another completely.
As you can guess by his choice of extremely remote lifestyle and his degree of self-reliance and privacy, Jessie’s dating history is pretty much nonexistent, or seems to be according to the few and far between reports that try and fail to shed any light on the subject. There are speculations that for all we know he could be married or dating someone, but since he not only treasures but almost fiercely protects his privacy, there is no adequate source that can guarantee his dating or marital status one way or the other. The same goes for Jessie’s biological family. Very little is known about them, and once again we can only speculate that his family continues to reside in his home state of Alabama.
Jessie Holmes has truly embraced what it means to live life below zero. He has shown the millions of viewers who enjoy the show that there is more to life than monetary value, and that there’s something truly empowering and beautiful about relying on yourself and the work that you can accomplish. By taking his love of long distance running, his respect for the traditions of those that came before him, and his determination to carve a life for himself out of one of the harshest and yet most beautiful places in the world, Holmes has captured the hearts and respect of those who watch “Life Below Zero”. With his can-do attitude and his refusal to let anything beat him or beat him down, maybe we can all take a page from Jessie’s book. His personal motto of “If it breaks, fix it. There’s no other option.” summarizes the man better than any article can.