Alaska. Also known as the Last Frontier, the Great North, the Land of the Midnight Sun... so many attempts to encapsulate the expansiveness of this land. It is overwhelming to identify or pinpoint the essence of it. Alaska is BIG. How big, might you ask? It is the largest state, about twice the size of Texas, three times the size of California. It is a place that holds over 3 million lakes, 3,000 rivers, 100,000 glaciers, 70 potentially active volcanos, the tallest peak in North America (Denali at 20,310 feet) and 15 national parks.
It is a place so big, it makes you feel small. That is, in the most humbling way possible. Nature runs its course, she is in charge and we are lucky enough to witness her alive. What better way to experience her beauty than on foot. It seems most appropriate to walk the land, to be among the ever-changing landscape. Each person has a unique experience because the land itself changes every day. From the dramatic tidal difference, changing weather, abundance of wildlife, melting glaciers, active volcanos, immense biodiversity in plant life, earthquake activity, shifting daylight and flowing rivers, the only thing constant is change. The summer season is short but the days are long. The midnight sun invites you to play in the mountains without a time line. A sense of freedom sweeps over the beaming landscape and it is liberating.
There is no other place I've encountered that has made me come more alive.
It is easy to express the beauty of Alaska in words but seemingly difficult to articulate the impression this place leaves on the soul. Some say, once you visit Alaska you will never be the same. Not always such a dramatic life change but often times a subtle shift. It is the encounter with the wild that often times brings you closer to your true self.
For me though, Alaska has presented a rather large shift in my life. It's a place that stirs within, one that roars to climb mountains, seize the day, to go the distance, explore new lands, to jump in freezing water... constantly waking up to the moment, to the refreshing gift of being alive. There is no other place I've encountered that has made me come more alive. It is a place that has taught me to find a peak and climb it. Figure out what I want and do it, without necessarily focusing on the hardships along the way. People here work hard to live and don't complain about it. This notion has trickled into my life and encouraged me to challenge my limits, push past them and discover new frontiers of my own self.
There is a rush to experience the wild land of Alaska since people feel it slipping away... my rush is to preserve it. I understand how delicate our wilderness is and how easily it can be lost. I invite people to witness the unique beauty and encourage them to take it home with them through perspective. I know that you can leave Alaska, but it can't leave you once you've encountered such a wild place. My hope is for guests to leave their Backroads trip and re-enter their day-to-day world with more "life" in their step. That after walking through the forests and mountaintops of Alaska, a new breath, a new step will move you forward. Alaska does not have nature, Alaska is nature. If you want to come alive to such a place, discover it for yourself.