Cal's life,  United States of America

Goodbye Alaska

Hey friend,

I’ve said goodbye to the lake. I’ve waved to my friends. Went back to the beginning and hugged the mountains. The road was foggy and sunny. And so was my heart. Parting with Alaska is hard. I have beautiful memories, made great friends, and still stumble upon good opportunities for the future. But as the fireweed turns landscapes red, it is time for me to head South.

The last few weeks have been very busy. My season ended at the beginning of August. I cleaned my last few cabins, guided a few more hikes, went fishing for the first (and let’s be honest, probably the last time), and as quickly as the season went by, I was on my way to pick up my dad from the airport. Together, we drove to Hope, Homer, Skilak Lake, Portage, Whittier, Girdwood, Anchorage, Palmer, and Denali State Park. I insulated the floor of my van. We changed my back door handle, fixed a few leaks, and set up the inside for it to be more comfortable. We rafted Sixmile Creek, visited beautiful Seldovia, walked on the Spit, saw whales and bear cubs, kayaked around Skilak Lake, and enjoyed overall way better weather than predicted. It was really nice having him visit after 10 months of being away from home.

After he left, I hung around and went on hikes. My friend Addi and I went up Crow Pass to see Ravens Glacier. It was so worth it, despite the rain and strong winds at the top. It goes up fast with a beautiful view of the valley and amazing waterfalls. I went to the Kenai Fjord National Park, where I kayaked a few hundred meters away from whales and saw them practice bubble net feeding. My friend Mooney and I also went up to Exit Glacier. We saw a mama bear and her two cubs running down the mountain, marmots hanging around on rocks, ptarmigans so close I could have pet them, and were followed by magpies for a good part of the trail. While we were lucky not to be rained on, it got very foggy at the top and we didn’t get to explore as much of the icefield as we hoped. But we admired the clouds forming as they followed the mountains’ curves up to the sky. Mooney and I also visited the Wildlife Conservation Centre (yes, we hadn’t been yet…) and watched unroll one last Turnagain Arm bore tide.

On September 1st, we were lucky enough to catch some of the first visible Northern Lights of the season. We went out on Kenai Lake and admired them dancing above the mountains and around the stars. On our way there, we (were) spooked by a beautiful white owl that was resting on the road and almost hit our car. It had very long white wings and while none of the guides I was with knew exactly which breed it was, I am still amazed at how majestic it looked in the pitch-black forest.

A few more adventures and many tough goodbyes later, I took the road that led me to Girdwood on my first day in Alaska and traced my way from Cooper Landing, through Girdwood, to Anchorage. And once again, it didn’t disappoint. The Kenai Peninsula waved goodbyes with mystical foggy roads and perfectly reflected mountains on lakes. Girdwood left me nostalgic for the snowy winter and heartbroken from leaving my friend Oleg. Once in Anchorage, I got to see Keegan, who was coming back from boating the Yukon River and the Bering Sea from Nenana to Stebbins, and Reachel, with whom I enjoyed a lovely conversation about gender equality, food security, maternity, cultural tourism, and stolen lands.

Eight months after arriving in Alaska, I am now in Palmer, picking berries with Braden and Chris and getting my van ready for the big drive to Canada. I will be convoying with my friends Addi, Brock, Ben, Slava, and Ryan through Valdez and the Yukon towards Jasper and Banff National Parks. We are all hoping our cars will make it, so knock on wood for us!

Love,

 

Calypso

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