Alaska seems like a completely different life. Things are different here in the best ways possible. Do you ever have those days where the morning was so different than what is going on in this moment, even though it’s just a later time you have the sense that it has been a completely different day.
There have been a lot of those in the past few weeks. Where days merge into one another, the story starts to be drawn out before my eyes. The change seen just in the trees alone, as they start to sprout and grow, covering the once baron land in an explosion of different shades of green. Snow has been melting off the tops of all the peaks creating waterfalls that start to transcend down the mountain faces. Spending 11 days in Haines for my WFR, coming back to Skagway feels as if I’m coming home. I enjoyed every moment living out of my RAV4 in The Yard while taking in the eagles soaring over head, mountains soaring over in all directions, and learning skills on how to better prepare myself for situations I might face when in the field.
Everyday we met up in a small classroom, surrounded by the same 14 people for the length of the course. Our instructor Meredith and assistant Dave ran us through handfuls of acronyms that act as a type of check off to make sure we don’t miss any crucial details about our patients, as we would go over a variety of scenarios. As the days progressed, we started having half days outside where we were able to act out scenarios and practice splinting working up to figuring out how to make backboards in the field with the supplies that you are given in nature. The last day of the WRF was spent out in Moose Meadows where the whole group camped out for the night, practicing real life scenarios. For one, we found Dave still in the water from a ‘boat crash’ with Meredith on shore as she had been ‘thrown from the boat’. These ‘practice runs’ had a huge impact on my understanding for how to be the most efficient while keeping a level head and getting injured patients the help they need in such a critical time.
The day we passed our practical’s and written exam, my friend Keane and I were eager to hit the trail, seeing as everyone else had to work or head back to Skagway later that day, we made plans with another friend and newly WFR Matt to head out to Seduction Point. We had heard from a variety of people different information about how long the hike was (4-12 miles) and we didn’t really know what to expect when we started out, we just knew we were in for an adventure. We packed our bags full of food, water and our overnight items and hit the trail. Matt met up with us after we had taken a short rest at Twin Coves to enjoy the peace as the water danced against the shoreline.
When Matt caught up with us, we jumped with joy and went on our way hugging the shoreline as long as we could, making our way to Dave’s Cove. Hidden away we found a private cottage tucked behind a massive tree with a swing tucked behind it’s trunk. We shared laughter as I had expressed my love for swings and how I was craving a good swinging session just the day prior. We stopped for a bit and I felt the wind through my hair as the sun hit my face, as if my day couldn’t get any brighter.
We eventually made it to Seduction Point, it wasn’t like anything we expected. We arrived right in time to see the Alpen glow glistening on the Chilkat Mountain range with dozens of Sea Lions in the ocean below swimming around and playing games. We didn’t realize that there wasn’t an actual beach at the point to camp out at, so we had to hike back about a mile, bush whacking both to and from the point. The trail would form, then without a trace, disappearing making for an added challenge to the adventure. We arrived back to a beach we had come across earlier that day, it was more of an island connected by a bridge of sand with pebble filled beaches on either side. This is where we made our camp, started a fire, and slept out under the stars.
The morning came around 4 when the sun started to rise over the horizon brining light to the whole sky. We didn’t role out of our sleeping positions until about 6 when the sun had finally made its way over the mountain range shining right in our eyes. Still half asleep I made a bargain with Matt, if he were to go fetch the food from the bear hang he put up the night before, I would make coffee and start getting breakfast going.
Moving from our sleeping bags, a fire was started and breakfast was initiated. As I was pouring the first cup of coffee, Matt let out an exciting gasp and I looked up just in time to see a whale tale dip under the waters surface. Keane spearheaded cutting and cooking a mix of potatoes, veggies and eggs that had to be the best breakfast I’ve had in a while, and I love making breakfast every single morning….so that was kind of a big deal, and so delicious!!!
We packed up our bags and as we were going over everything, making sure we didn’t’ leave anything behind, a couple came up to the little peninsula we had made camp on in a small boat with their standard poodle. They docked their boat on the rocky beach and we helped them unload their belongings. It was perfect timing. Sharon and John had spent the past few nights camping out on near by islands and were coming to the camping spot we had inhabited to stay on the makeshift island for the following night. We got to know each other, showed John our game of Rock Rock, talked about climbing and Alaska adventures, at one point, Sharon looked over to an opposing beach, informing us that that was where she usually sees bears strolling looking for food. We gave a faint laugh stating that we had walked along that shore line the day prior when hiking out to the point. She stopped to grab her binoculars as if she saw something. After locking in on the target, she handed me the binoculars. Perusing the beach was in fact the first brown bear I have laid my eyes on since arriving in Alaska. We were really excited to see this elusive creature, and even more thankful that we had made new friends that had offered us a boat ride around the beaches that we had to rock hop across the day prior, also hopefully reducing our chances of coming in contact with the bear.
The boat ride was beautiful. We saw the Davidson Glacier from an even more spectacual angle, if that is even possible, looking at the shoreline with exposed muscles due to the low tide. They dropped us off at the Twin Lakes and we made our way back, about 3 miles to the car to head back into town grabbing lunch at Mountain Market, a fantastic little renovated truck stop that was an all in 1 health food/coffee/sandwich shop, locally owned for the past 20+ years by a fantastic couple. I had to catch the ferry back to Skagway at 2 so we made our way back to the yard so I could gather my things and start making my way back home. (We also went to the fairgrounds to check out the set of White Fang and watched in awe as a giant moose crossed the road right in front of us just outside of downtown Haines.)
I’ve been in Alaska for over a month now and it’s everything I could have ever dreamed of. The adventures are endless and the people I’ve been able to connect with are some of the most genuine and like-minded people I have ever come into contact with. Everyone is here now. Brown town, the house I reside in went from a population of 6 to almost at full capacity of 16 individuals. I had my first guiding Rock Trip yesterday and getting back into the swing of things having my second guided zip trip. All the newbies are starting training today, and the level of stoke is at an all time high. I even had time two days ago to set up a rope to start cleaning a line that I have been dreaming about from the moment I laid eyes on it. There is a ton of potential for development here and I know that there is a lot of amazing things that have yet to be discovered.
I am so happy here.