I’m not sure exactly what I expected Alaska to be like, but I was surprised around nearly every corner. My exposure to Alaska before this had only been what I had seen on TV and in pictures, but they almost never show some of the things that I feel truly represent the sections of Alaska we had traveled through. Much of it felt familiar, but so much more of it felt strange—larger than life, in just a few words. The sky is bluer, the mountains rockier, the sun hotter, the wind colder, the climbs steeper, and the roads rougher.
I will attempt to describe my impression of it with a few words and phrases: Lusciously green, and yet rocky and bleak. Jagged. Towering. Daunting. Wild. Frigid shadows--burning sunlight. Otherworldly. A sense of always being on the razor's edge of treacherous, life threatening danger. A feeling of extreme altitude, as if I could easily slip and fall endlessly into the sky. Exploding with strange, whispy yet resiliantly dense life.
In the lower 48 states it feels like man calls the shots in changing the environment, but up there it feels the other way around. You have to play by Mother Nature’s rules or she will just trample you into the Moose Carpet and Whoville forests. Maybe I felt that way because there was little between me and the raw environment other than neoprene and spandex, but I look back on it all with very fond memories. I truly miss the Great North, and I feel like part of me stayed there, waiting for my return…
Our spirits had been forged and our bodies strengthened through the various trials of day-long rain storms, steep winding climbs, taunting headwinds, frigid nights, scorching sunlight, constant equipment failure, and the overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety towards what our path held in store for us. It had only been about a week since we found ourselves soaked to the bone braving a springtime shower wondering if we’d be able to continue—and we had found the strength to make those first few steps of our journey—but we still had a very, very long way to travel, and for us to try and comprehend the actual distance was still so frighteningly overwhelming that I simply had to push it from my thoughts and draw upon blatant, deliberate denial. We figured things could only get easier after Alaska, but we were very, very wrong.