We flew out of Seattle at 9pm on Sunday in the pitch dark and by the time we reached Alaska four hours later the sun had come back up and the mountain ranges far below the plane were cast in an ethereal blue light and I pressed my face against the window, trying to see drainages, passes, enchanted secret worlds that were far from any road system and that I would only ever get to see this way, from the air, in this metal pressurized ship.
At the airport our lyft driver blasted Ukrainian pop music and we arrived at my wonderful friends Allison and AK’s house in Fairbanks at 2 a.m. There was black plastic taped over the small window in the quiet guestroom and it was blessedly dark, and we collapsed.
I woke too early, as I am wont to do before starting these trips, my blood roiling with cortisol trying to think about every little thing and not forget even one of them, and my incredibly kind and generous friend Tara picked us up in a busted little red car that she was borrowing while she fixed her van and I just loved the whole aesthetic of driving around Fairbanks with its squat faded buildings in this busted little red car, the sharp outline of the boreal forest against the low hanging sky. It reminded me of my childhood, albeit that was in a busted little blue car in Anchorage, further south.
Therein began three days of stress-sweating while running errands, sorting resupplies, checking the weather and balking (rain mixed with a little snow falling in the Brooks, spring has been cold and wet up here which is good for the fires in the interior, miserable for us but also, good for the fires), working out logistics, figuring and refiguring our gear, and quality time with dear friends.
We fly from Fairbanks to Fort Yukon where we meet our pilot and then to the Alaska/Yukon border to start our traverse tomorrow (June 14th) and I feel… wild. So sleep deprived, exhausted, stressed, excited, ready but not ready, in love with Alaska, overwhelmed, grateful for the wonderful people in my life, etc etc. Every time I come to Alaska I wish I was here longer, that I had more time, and somehow it seems as though I never have enough. Maybe that’s just the way life feels, though. You know?
I met up with a couple of great people from Defend the Sacred AK while I was in town and talked to them about so many great things but then didn’t actually end up having time to write a blog post about it? I will though, it will go up during the week we take off mid July, after we reach the haul road, the one road we’ll cross on our one thousand mile trek. Here are some key things though-
Defend the Sacred AK has a really awesome new website! Read about the org and their principles, sign up to voluteer, etc etc. This org is really unlike anything anywhere!
Here’s a link to the fundraiser. Which brings me to-
How my blog posts will go up during this hike.
I’ll be writing a blog post every day on the trail, and saving them to my phone. We won’t have reception anywhere ever (although we will be able to get in touch with loved ones via our garmin inreach, which texts), but when we get to the haul road in mid July we’ll be hitching to Fairbanks to take a week off and I’ll start posting the first 30-ish days of daily blog posts then, with one caveat-
Starting mid July, I’ll post one blog post for each $200 above $5,000 that gets donated to the Defend the Sacred AK fundraiser. That means that if I get to the haul road halfway through our hike and the fundraiser is at $5,200, one post will go up. If the fundraiser is at $6,000, five posts will go up. If the fundraiser reaches $11,000, all 30-ish posts will go up. If every one of my blog followers donated $2, we would reach that goal immediately.
It’s so exciting for me to be raising money for the indigenous organizers who are already on the ground in the Alaskan arctic doing the hard work to defend their sacred homelands, who are the most affected by resource extraction in that area, who have the experience and the solutions that are needed most, and who so, so deserve our support right now, when ANWR is being threatened. One thing that the folks from Defend the Sacred AK told me when I met with them is that if they only had the funds, they could create three paid positions immediately- that’s how much organizing work they have that needs to be done. Join me in supporting this awesome org, and thank you to everyone who’s already contributed!!