Coming Full Circle
By Emily Fielder, Guide on the Wilderness Explorer
The allure of Alaska is palpable; a strong invisible pull constantly calling you back. It was seven years ago this spring that I first found myself on Alaskan shores working for UnCruise, which at the time was still known as InnerSea Discoveries.
I landed in Ketchikan under a light drizzle and boarded the Wilderness Discoverer as excited about this new adventure as I was to be in Alaska! As the boat sailed through unimaginably beautiful places with names like Misty Fjords and Five Fingers Lighthouse, I had my face glued to the windows which I was cleaning, just itching to be outside playing in those foggy forests. I knew that summer that I would return to UnCruise and Alaska one day, but the next time would be as a guide.
Six years passed between my first taste of the north and my next encounter with Alaska. I guided in various national parks and equally magical places gathering experiences that would get me back to Alaska to guide. It took some time and many intervening adventures, but eventually, I did make it back to the boats!
Last summer was my first onboard as a guide. Sailing on the Safari Endeavour between Juneau and Sitka was incredible, but also challenging. It took a lot to learn all the plants and creatures that call these shores home. I left for the winter already awaiting the return to Alaska come spring.
My first week this season on the Wilderness Explorer as a member of their expedition team was full and successful. This particular route is fantastic for me personally, because it traveled through the same locations I first saw as a steward seven summers ago - the places that beckoned to me and planted that seed to one day become a guide.
Sailing through Misty Fjords and kayaking in Walker Cove felt like everything in my life over the last few years had come full circle. I smiled while guiding a skiff tour under the waterfalls and sheer granite cliffs of the cove, delighted at how far hard work and dedication to a goal can carry you in life. The cedar and Sitka spruce tickled my face as I glided beneath them in a kayak and gazed around me in awe, just as I had all those years ago.
I don’t think you can ever fully explain Alaska to people. It is something that must be felt and experienced. This is my favorite part of being a guide. I get to help people from all over the world experience the wonder and create something that they will continue to feel long past the time their plane touches down back home. And because of this, the allure of Alaska, I know many of them too will be back.