It is cold, there are mountains surrounding me, the sky is overcast, yet the sun seems unaware that it is after midnight; this is Alaska in the summer. Two years ago my family decided to take a long-awaited trip to Alaska.
The morning began early since we were going to take a bus tour in Denali National Park. We all boarded the old green bus and fought over who would get the window seats. The bus began to chug along, climbing up the mountain stopping at one point due to a massive grizzly bear blocking our way. Eventually, he lost interest and finished crossing the road and the bus once again began its trek up the mountain. Finally we made it to the Eielson visitor center that was about half way up the mountain.
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My Dad decided that we should have a picnic at the very top. We grabbed our packs and started out. After what seemed like a lifetime we finally reached the top and sat down to enjoy our impromptu lunch, pleased with ourselves that we conquered the climb. We took our time enjoying the beautiful view of Mount McKinley, our reward for the climb. With the beauty all around, it took all my will power not to jump up and burst into song, singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music,” as I felt like Maria in The Sound of Music. As we were packing to leave, two chipmunks started running straight for my 19-year-old brother. What did he do you might ask? He shot up and ran for his life, screaming like a little girl all the while, as we sat there laughing; that is, until they turned and ran toward us!
Another day, my Dad suggested a nice afternoon bike ride along the water through Anchorage’s Volcano Park. It was beautiful as we rode right along the water feeling the sea breeze whip at our skin. Accidentally, two miles turned into twenty (this was supposed to be a nice little bike ride, right!?). By the time we made it back to the bike rental shop, we could barely walk. It felt as if our legs were permanently stuck in a squatting position.
One night after dinner we decided to take a hike up Flat-top Mountain. We grabbed a few water bottles, laced up our boots, and sprayed ourselves silly with bug repellant (the mosquito is Alaska’s unofficial state bird) and started out. Two miles later we made it to the top (after a small rock climb at the end that is!). It was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever experienced. The sky was dusky since it was around midnight, and the sun was just barely dipping into the horizon. It was amazing to be able to see cars pass by and a city full of people in the distance, oblivious to the world above them, as we savored the sweet scent of the wildflowers in the fresh Alaskan air.
On our way back we saw a mother moose and her baby having a midnight snack. Before that moment I had never seen a moose in the wild, let alone just ten feet away from me! I was just awestruck. How could something that beautiful be able to do so much damage and cause so much danger and fear?
I can quite honestly say that was one of the best, and most exhausting, trips of my life. I have never felt so close to nature as I did while in Alaska. I just wasn’t ready to leave it quite so soon.
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