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Sledding into Spring

07-07-2017

Dawn Paley, Lead Expedition Guide, Wilderness Adventurer

Every spring as we sail back up into the waters of Southeast Alaska, it’s like returning home.

It’s a place that calls to my inner spirit and a place of constant change and rebirth as the mountainous landscape is continually carved right in front of our eyes by the shear force of Mother Nature.

The harsh and dark winters give way to long days and the plants are reinvigorated as they begin to wake up with the rest of the land around them.

The Wilderness Adventurer is the very first passenger vessel to cruise the waters looking for adventure. We are the first to step foot on land after the sleepy snowy winter has ended and the first to witness the snow-capped mountains embracing Glacier Bay.

Glacier Bay Alaska

I wake up in Dundas Bay, a place I have experienced true magic numerous times before, and stare out the window to try and get an idea for what the day will hold.

We had scheduled an all-day bushwhack last night but immediately I know we will have to alter our plans as the snow pack is down to the waterline in many places.

Alaska

Still I wouldn’t turn my back from that adventure and we headed out on a half-day bushwhack instead.

It didn’t take long before we hit snow as we made our way up the mountain.

Our captain radios in and asks about the conditions and if I had intentions of returning early. I looked at my fearless group then at the snowy trail ahead of us and radioed back that we had already hit spots three feet deep with snow but that we’re going to attempt to continue on.

At this point I started to question my judgment as I rounded another hill and saw nothing but thick blankets of snow covering everything. Should I have turned back when the captain first radioed?

Staring at the next snowy hill contemplating what path we should attempt to traverse, all that my mind could think was, “that hill looks like an amazing sledding slope!”

My guests are all waiting behind me to see where we will go next and puzzled looks come over their faces as I drop my pack and stomp up the side of the slope.

“Well here goes nothing!”

I throw myself head first down the slope and slide down on my already soaking raingear. It’s a success!

Sledding in Alaska

A line forms at the top of the hill and down we go one by one, shouting and cheering as our new found friends embrace their inner child sledding down the hill. It starts to hail but even that doesn’t slow down this intrepid group.

Hailing in Alaska

Even though in the depths of my heart Alaska is my home, I am a lover of the temperate climates and spend my winters in northern Florida. The bitter cold days of the Alaskan winters are too harsh for me to bear.

Never in all my days did I imagine I would be body-sledding down the side of a mountain in Southeast Alaska.

Snow Angel in Alaska

The magical Dundas Bay had done it again, left another permanent mark in the memories of all of us.

This land can be harsh and unforgiving but with the right attitude a possible ruined day can change into a moment of deep connection with the forces of nature.



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