As I start to wrap up my fifth summer of solo travels, I can’t help but look back on the journey so far. Five years ago I hopped in my Subaru and explored through all the western states, traveling alone for the first time in my life. It was eye opening and life-changing, which led to more and more adventures and stories to tell. (Have I told you about that time with the bear..?)
This summer I was ready to push myself a little bit more and the solitude of Alaska was calling (but was hard pressed to actually find much of that). I had originally planned to rent a Jeep and take ten days to trek up and back down the Dalton Highway just to dip my toes in the Arctic Ocean, and maybe a few nights backpacking in the Gates of the Arctic NP. But with the car rental shortage issue I wasn’t able to make it happen this time, so I had to come up with some other plans.
My mom was not too thrilled with my choice of adventure this year and was convinced that I would be eaten by a grizzly bear (by the way, I felt waaaaay safer in Alaska than I ever do in California). Even though I have no problem traveling alone in the wilderness and taking care of myself, I realize there are still so many more of my personal edges to push. I ran up against one of those edges I just couldn’t cross this time around. One of my biggest fears is flying and it took 15 years to overcome just to get on a commercial flight.
In a moment of courage, I booked the last spot for a flight on a float plane that left at 5:45am the next morning to Kenai peninsula to watch and photograph bears feeding on salmon in the river. However, the weather turned bad within those later hours and the pilot canceled the flight. Disappointed I headed back north hoping the weather there was better before it was time to go home. It came highly recommended to do a flight seeing tour of Denali on a small plane and my adventurous spirit was ready to take on the challenge especially with my fancy new camera lens in hand. But, my mind had too much time to overthink it and couldn’t make it happen.
If we could do it all in one fell swoop, life wouldn’t be that exciting. Leave a little something for the next time.
Denali National Park
Exit Glacier Hike
Northwestern Glacier/Fjords Wildlife Tour
All photos copyright Jess Starwood 2021.