RV Life: The Last Frontier Edition

ad·dict·ed / əˈdiktəd/ adjective

physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.

The mighty Minnie Winnie outside of Denali National Park in Healy, Alaska (Photo: DNV)

For me Alaska is an addiction. My first taste was in law school, when a Hail Mary application landed me a job (after an interview in which fly fishing was a main topic discussed) with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Juneau.   I remember looking out the window of the plane as we flew over the Coast Range in awe of the endless mountains rising from the waters of Southeast Alaska.  When landing, the plane descended into the Gastineau Channel, and as it passed the docks of downtown Juneau, the mountains seemed just out of reach of the wings of the plane.  For someone who comes alive in the mountains, I was blown away.

The summer I spent in Juneau was transformative and since then I have taken every opportunity to get back up to Alaska.  From heliskiing trips in the winter to fly fishing trips in the fall, I cannot get back to the state often enough and if I go too long without time there,thoughts of the mountains and rivers of the Last Frontier consume my waking thoughts. When the idea of a big trip for my 30th birthday came up, Alaska was on the short list.  When I found out that most of the people who were coming along on the trip hadn't set foot in Alaska, all other destinations fell by the wayside.

So in late August, a group of six flying from three different cities met in downtown Anchorage with a (very) rough plan of what the next few weeks would hold.  We knew we wanted to fly fish, trail run, and rock climb, and we had all the attendant gear, but beyond the first few days we planned to stay in Denali National Park, the trip was a free-for-all. 

We spent the next two weeks trying to fill our days with as much as possible.  And with 15+ hours of daylight each day, each night we found ourselves back at RV Camp, usually beside a fire with a cup of bourbon, our hands worn and our legs tired.  Along the way,  we endured unforgettable trail runs (including the aptly named Savage Alpine trail and a 4k vertical foot monster haul up the Harding Ice Field Trail), bouldered in the shadow of glaciers in Portage Valley, and ate an actual metric ton of seafood (thanks to the halibut burgers and clam steamers at F-Street Station, the "buckets of halibut" at Thorne's Showcase Lounge, and the life-giving seafood pho at Pho Lena).  

Ultimately, the RV turned out to be the perfect base camp for our trip that took us from the mountains of Denali National Park to the north to the frigid waters of Seward to the south.  The 33' long Winnebago kept us dry during nights of rain, stayed upright when battered with 150 mph sustained winds (seriously), and provided warm beds and plenty of bourbon storage no matter where the road took us.  

The Savage Alpine Trail starts off mellow but turns sharply uphill and earns its name (Photo: DNC

Trail running in Denali National Park? Better pack whiskey and bear spray in your running vest. (Photo: DNV)

The trip ended with two lingering thoughts: (1) Damn, I need to buy an RV; and (2) Maybe I need to give in to my addiction and move to Alaska...