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What Happened To The Lewis Family From The Last Alaskans?

For four seasons, the first on Animal Planet and the subsequent three on the Discovery Channel, the reality series The Last Alaskans has introduced us to some of the hardiest people on TV. The series explores the trials and tribulations of the handful of families who are allowed to live on Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — an extremely unforgiving environment which covers a staggering 19 million square miles of harsh, mostly untouched terrain.

Along with hunting, trapping, and gathering, these families also do what most families do — squabble, entertain each other, welcome new arrivals, and see off members who are on to their next station in life. Among the families who most endeared themselves to viewers were the Lewises: Ray, Cindy, and their daughters Molly, Emma, and Sarah. The Lewises were among the families featured on the show's very first season. They were so popular that they returned for its second, during which Ray developed a keen interest in building his own houseboat.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of season 3, the Lewises were nowhere to be seen. Series producers didn't even fill us in on why they left, or what they were currently up to. As it turns out, the website Reality Blurred got curious enough to get the show's producers on the horn to ask those very questions — and got a pretty sensible answer.

For the Lewises, it was time to move on from the refuge

As it turns out, Ray was pretty darned serious about that boat. After completing it, he and Cindy did what anybody who had just finished building their own awesome freaking houseboat would do: They started spending tons of time hanging out on it.

"Producers and the network love the Lewis family," a Discovery Channel publicist told Reality Blurred. "As viewers saw, one of Ray's passions became the houseboat that he built ... As the family spent increasing amounts of time on the houseboat, they spent less time in the refuge. Since the show is focused on life in the refuge, unfortunately, it was hard to feature the Lewis family and stay true to the show."

That certainly makes perfect sense. Ray and Cindy are now living on that boat full time, and as for the girls, they've also begun charting their own paths. Sarah, the youngest, is still living with mom and dad on their floating abode, while oldest sister Molly has found work in Oregon as a wilderness guide. As for middle child Emma, she's still connected to The Last Alaskans, albeit tangentially; Discovery's publicist states that she's working with Joanna Jagow, the sister of current cast member Charlie Jagow, training sled dogs in preparation for possibly participating in an upcoming Yukon Quest 300 race

While they're sorely missed by fans of The Last Alaskans, it certainly sounds like all of the Lewises are living their best lives, and it's not like anyone could have reasonably expected them to stay on the refuge forever. Heck, we wouldn't last half an hour before we'd be shouting at the nearest bear for the wi-fi password.

Season 5 of The Last Alaskans is expected to begin airing late this year or early next on the Discovery Channel.