All posts tagged: Alaska

Getting high again

It was a bit spontaneous, but I decided to hike Bonanza trail. I cheated and drove a wheeler up most of the way, but I hiked the most hellacious and steepest section. It will be a slow recovery for the knee. Last time it took several years before I even began to feel like I was nearing 100%. I’m resting it quite a bit, but it’s mid-summer and the needs of my soul were greater to me than resting the knee. So up I went. The views from the riddgeline above Bonanza Mine are nearly 360 degrees, and there’s always something about getting way up high that gives me a healthy sense of perspective. I always get just a touch of vertigo when I’m way up in the clouds, so the whole experience can get quite surreal, even spiritual one might say. The hiking was good for me, too. I’ve been doing daily walks, but it’s not the same thing as a few hours of vigorous hiking, goat-like, up a steep incline. Note: Those are …

Happy Independence Day!

Like most little Alaskan bush communities, we celebrate the Fourth of July with great gusto. We’ve got creative floats in a community parade (and since our parade line is rather small, all the floats circle around and parade through downtown a second time); we get jiggy with tacky red-white-and-blue apparel/decor; and, of course, since this is Alaska, we drink a fifth to celebrate the Fourth. So, we’ve got plenty of the traditional flag waving enthusiasm, but McCarthy has a disproportionate amount of free-spirited, open-minded folk, and there’s enough of a hippie influence out here that being patriotic doesn’t mean being a hater — quite the opposite, in fact.

Fire Dancing at Solstice – McCarthy Alaska 2018

There’s epic mountains and breaching whales and raging rivers and scary bears and grizzled men with beards, but one of the natural features that most intrigues me about Alaska is the light, specifically the yuge swings of light and dark. The weirdness of the solar cycles gives the place a certain mystical feel. Most of the year, this area of Alaska is gaining or losing about 5 minutes of light a day. Things are always changing, always in flux. I never feel like anything is static or settled. Perhaps it’s a Buddhist-y thing, for me, or maybe it’s just the nature of nature itself, a part of life that we tend to forget in modernity, where we spend a good deal of our lives indoors and/or in front of screens, mostly disconnected from the natural world we evolved to live in. Whatever the reason, it feels refreshingly primitive to me to be in a place as dynamic as Alaska, especially on summer solstice where you can stay out all night and never need a flashlight …

Let that shit go

I have an office job at a small lodge in remote Alaska, and one of the hats I wear is HR Manager. I recently put this poster up on the wall next to my desk. It’s as close to a self-help/inspirational/motivational poster as I think I could get away with out here in the bush. It’s also not a bad summary of my spiritual philosophy.

No worse for the wear on McCarthy Creek

The bar is set a bit higher in Alaska, so far as rating trails is concerned. A hike rated “Difficult” in the Lower 48 is more likely to be rated closer to “Easy” when up in the wilds of the Great North. Hence a trail rated “Difficult” in Alaska is usually a hike that has nary a trail at all. When in Alaska I don’t rate a trail “Difficult” if I’m not doing some serious bush wacking. Such was the case on a hike I did on Sunday, along McCarthy Creek — and by “creek” I mean a raging river. I had expectations for an easy go of it, but parts of the trail had been washed out by the aforementioned “creek.” After getting through the worst of it, though, I was still smiling, albeit a little less enthusiastic than usual, as you can see from the photo, because it’s hard to not be happy with views like these.

That Tent Life

Plans change and housing conditions get rearranged — such is often the nature of life in my Alaskan bush village. I had planned to be in a cabin, commuting (i.e. walking) back and forth from cabin and work, but things shifted, one of which was a knee injury that had me looking at my options for staying in town, where I work. A hundred years ago, McCarthy was quite the happenin’ spot in Alaska. This was before Anchorage was even on the map, merely a place to slap a tent down. McCarthy, at the time, was a regular sin city, just four miles down the road from the site of the most profitable copper mine in modern history. And like anywhere else in Alaska, if you had a spot of land, you could always put up a wall tent. It was a quick and cheap way to put a roof over your head. So, in that same spirit, I decided to put up a tent in town, down by the river, where I can listen …