The Alaskan Frontier
Words and Photos by Michelle
Everything I had heard about The Last Frontier made me think I wouldn’t like it. I’m not a fan of the outdoors, nature, physical exercise or cold weather, so when I announced to my husband that I wanted to spend a few weeks in Alaska, in the winter, he was (quite understandably) a little confused.
But I needed to see it for myself, I wanted to see if all the stories were true; miles of open space, the days that go by without sunshine, people living ‘off-the-grid’ with no access to water or electricity, bears fishing salmon out of streams, having to travel everywhere by aeroplane and people standing on street corners with rifles.
As you’d expect hardly any of the stereotypes were correct. Arriving in Fairbanks on December 23rd, the first thing that hit me of course was the temperature, I’d never experienced cold like it. Wrapped up under about seven layers, the cold seeped into my bones and made me feel like I’d never get warm again, but it only took a couple of days to get used to it and by the time I was travelling through the Denali National Park, I was jumping in and out of the car to take pictures without even bothering to put my coat on.
I truly wasn’t prepared for just how beautiful Alaska is. I tried to soak in as much as I possibly could during the four hours of light I had each day. Knee deep in miles of snow with nothing around me but the footprints of animals I’ll probably never get to see again in the wild. Bright blue skies providing the perfect backdrop for mountain peaks towering above. Lakes so smooth and clear you’d think they were made of glass. At night the ice in the snow makes it sparkle like diamonds.
Sitting on a sled, being pulled along by huskies, being so close to the floor made me feel like I was going much faster, but I think those incredible dogs were managing a good 20 miles per hour. It was like something out of a dream. Without the sounds of the engine causing a distraction, I was gliding along the snow, through the trees. My eyes watering because I was going so fast, but as it was so cold my tears froze instantly and I had to wipe the ice from my eyes, so I could see what was happening around me, trust me, you don’t want to miss one second of it.
After three weeks of exploring, I barely scratched the surface of America’s largest state (although the TCC actually considers it a separate territory to the USA) but what I saw there blew my mind. The people were incredibly friendly (the only guns I saw were for sale in shops), as were the moose that just wander around. I want to go back in summer and see more, I want to experience 22 hours of daylight and see how different that makes things. I want to cruise around the interior and breathe in more of that incredibly fresh air.
Alaska you have changed me and I’ve never felt more alive.