Thursday, August 29, 2013

An Update to Friends and Family (new mailing address too)!

Hi friends and family,

It's been a while since I've updated you on my life here in Alaska! I will try to keep it short! You can skip everything if you want, but please read the middle. :) 

It has been a busy and interesting summer for me! My new position as the office manager at Denali ATV this year has been such a different experience than ATV guiding! I have so much responsibility (which I love), but with that comes needing to put my big girl pants on and be a boss when I need to (which I do not love).
I had to fire someone the other day...which was extremely difficult, but needed. I'm learning a lot from this job and am enjoying it despite the difficulty at times.

(I caught a cold so hopefully most of this email makes sense. Forgive me if it doesn't. haha). 

At the beginning of the season (mid-May) we got a foot of snow! It delayed the start to our season, but despite the cold weather at the beginning, we have had more tourists come on our tours than we have ever had! It has been awesome for this company! And surprisingly, this has been one of the hottest summers in Denali (after the snow melted)! I have definitely enjoyed my sunshine. I've been backpacking, hiking, and fishing as much as possible.

*THE MIDDLE: Okay, so in other news, I have made a pretty big decision. Since before I arrived here this summer I have been stressed about my plans for after the season and have finally figured it out. After applying for jobs all over (in Oregon, Alaska, and other locations), I was offered a full-time position with benefits here in Alaska. After a lot of thinking and talking to people, I decided to take it and will be here for at least one more year! Eek!!! I will be working at a mental health and addiction clinic in this small town as a tobacco educator. It's grant funded and I'd be working to help Alaska become a smoke-free state. That just means that I'd be trying to educate business owners on how tobacco smoke effects other people and their businesses (there are still a lot of businesses here where smoking is allowed in restaurants, etc.). This job may allow me to get my feet wet in counseling as well!

After having small freak-outs here and there, I am becoming more excited. The thought of winter with negative degree weather here scares me, but everyone else seems to have survived it just fine. :) I am sad about not being in Portland with you guys, but it will always be my home. 

I will be in Portland to collect my things from September 19-27th, so if you’d like to say hi/bye I’d be happy to try to make that work. :)

Also, I may need emotional support through winter survival kits, puzzles, warm things and more warm things. If you’d like to send me letters or things like that, I’d be happy to check my mail often! ;)

My new mailing address is:
Danielle Moser
PO Box 584
Healy, AK, 99743

Also, here is my blog if you'd like to keep track of my winter adventures here in -54 degree weather...
I love you all and have loved your support to me these past few years in Oregon.
I’m not even going to say goodbye. I hate that word, so see you all later!!! ;)

Love you all and hope to see you in a few weeks,

P.S. When I told my friend Anika (who lives in Ukraine most of the year) that I was going to stay in AK for the winter, she just kept laughing at me. Surprisingly, the winters here will be colder than in Ukraine. A lot colder. :( Here is a text I got from her shortly after we talked. I died laughing.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Into The Wild: Bus trip

There are so many people throughout the year that attempt to hike the Stampede Trail. It was made famous by the movie “Into the Wild” which followed the story of Chris McCandless. He was a young guy who left everything he had and hiked the Stampede Trail. This is the same trail that we take people out on ATV tours, but we stop our tour right before the Savage River.

Chris McCandless crossed the Savage River and Teklanika River when they were both frozen. He found an abandoned bus and stayed there for a while, but when he decided to make the trek back to civilization, the Teklanika had thawed and was too high for him to cross back over. To make a long story short, he went back to the bus, was poisoned, starved to death, and died on that bus.

Many backpackers (experienced and inexperienced) attempt to cross the Tek and many have died or have had to be rescued in the process. I haven’t had a huge interest in seeing the bus, especially because of the 20+ hike to and from it, but last week, I got the chance to see it without making the long hike.

My friend Chris has an awesome Jeep. Our goal was to drive to the Tek and head home. Chris decided he’d try to cross the Tek with his Jeep and he made it! So, we hopped in and headed toward the bus. Here are some pictures! We only got stuck in 2 mud bogs along the way, but with their skills, we made it out safely. It was a fun and extremely bumpy ride!

 Getting unstuck.
 Beaver dam blocking the trail.

 Chris crossing the Teklanika River! What a brave soul!

 The Jeep crossing the Tek.

 Alexander Supertramp.

 My name!

 A little creepy.

I Climbed a Mountain!

Last week, on my day off, I set a goal to hike up Mt. Healy. Lots of my friend's here have done it and I set out to do the hike alone. It was soooo difficult and steep for the first hour. I even lost the trail a few times, but the views were breathtaking.

At one point, I saw and heard a thunderstorm so I hiked up what I thought was Mt. Healy with hopes of making it to the top before the storm hit. Thankfully, the storm dissipated, and I made it to the peak. I did my 360 turn and realized, I wasn't on the top of Healy, but Healy was out in the distance. I don't know how I missed it, but the peak I was on was good enough. :) To my left were four dall sheep! They were on a ridge. After I was finished looking at them, I turned around to get my backpack and had no idea there were three other dall sheep just a few feet away! They were so peaceful munching on the shrubs.

I was completely satisfied with heading home from where I ended up. Mt. Healy was in my view, but it was not worth it to try to find a trail and hike for who knows how long. My hiking trip was 6 hours roundtrip! I was so proud of myself!

Backpacking and Bushwhacking in Denali

Joey and I went backpacking in Denali National Park and thought it would be a good idea to hike along the Savage River towards Healy. What should have been a 12-15 mile hike was cut short by length, but not by time.

When hiking in the park, they encourage and try to enforce that you not take trails in order to preserve the wildlife and terrain. In some cases it’s exciting to find your own way through the bush, but in our case it was one of the hardest things we have EVER had to do, both mentally and physically.

We ended up having to bushwhack our way through shrub, trees, forest and creek beds from the time we began our hike to the next day when we ended it. The view was the only saving grace. The mosquitoes were torturous and swarmed. Nothing has tested my patience like those mutant bugs. We saw a lot of wolf prints and ran past two moose kills (moose that have been killed by wolves or bears). I had never been so nervous hiking before, but Joey and I were good at being loud wherever we went. I carried bear spray and we did everything we were supposed to.

The mosquitoes and bushwhacking were breaking us down physically and emotionally that we set up camp as soon as we found a clearing in the tundra. I’m still amazed that we made it as far as we had. Unfortunately, we had to go back the same way we came because we weren’t even close to Healy. Let’s just say, when I saw the entrance of the park, I had never felt so relieved in my entire life.

The best thing about it all was that I learned that Joey and I make a good team. We encouraged each other, he was so patient when I had to breakdown because the mosquitoes were getting to me, and we never got upset at each other when things were difficult.

Dinner was the best.