If someone would’ve told me 5 years ago that I would fall in love with a far away land of seemingly endless winters and long summer days, I probably would’ve laughed. You see, I’m an island girl…and true to my roots, I love sun, beach, sand and tropical everything in excess.
When I landed in Alaska, my level of surprise was low but my level of awe was high. I never imagined it so… harmonious. (After many years of trying to describe Alaska, I have effectively come up with the term because I believe it perfectly encompasses all the elements that make the last frontier quite so special.)
I first landed in Juneau and it was a rainy May 4th, with the mountains somewhat covered in snow and a brisk early spring wind flowing about. In true Alaskan manner, the airport was decorated with bears and eagles and mountain creatures I had never actually seen in real life. The novelty of this place was very satisfying for a girl looking for adventure. I started imagining all the things I could experience that summer.
Then, as I was transferring to my next flight, a whopping 6 passenger plane taking me to Skagway (my final destination), I was interrupted by a very tall and friendly guy who wanted to help with my bags.
“Let me guess, you’re here to work for Miner’s Gems” he said.
Now before I continue, let me explain, that although I am no stranger to talking to random people, I am not usually my friendliest when I’m traveling and carrying a bunch of bags. Let me also explain, that although I am the queen of traveling light, this particular trip involved 5 months of business casual clothing for work and hiking gear…so, needless to say, the bags were loaded.
I turned around to see the friendliest smile I had ever seen from a stranger, and, coincidentally, we were both coming to work for such Miner’s Gems. After he helped me with my bags, we started talking and since we had to wait a while for our next flight, we decided to grab some food.
I did not know this then, but this stranger at the airport would become my best friend and loyal companion through the majority of that summer.
After a short wait, we boarded our small plane and were wowed beyond imagination by southeast Alaska’s mountain range and ice fields. We had extra time so the pilot flew us over the glaciers and I had never seeing anything so majestic in my entire life. I was already in love, and I had not even landed.
The little town of Skagway, standing between the Canadian Yukon and the Alaskan Inside Passage is a dreamland for summer adventures requiring little touch with civilization and lots of love for nature. From day one, hiking became our new hobby.
The friendly guy with the nice smile and I had made a pact: I would cook and he would do dishes, cutting food costs and labor for both of us. And with this simple arrangements of sorts, our free hours were secretly committed to one another. These were hours we spent cooking, hiking, eating out and having endless talks… about anything and everything…
And this is how our story begins.