For the next two months, this blog will be devoted to traveling around and experiencing the great wide beauty of Alaska. 

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I’ve entered another world. It resembles worlds I’ve experienced in the past–great coffee shops, art galleries, local bands, dive bars–but it’s surrounded by glimmering water, jagged snowcapped peaks and a sun that doesn’t set until midnight. A six mile ride out on the spit–a straight six-mile finger of land that extends into Kachemak Bay–unveils a completely new landscape of harbor filled with schooners, skiffs, crab boats, all sorts of vessels designed for water exploration, and gritty bars where fisherman gather to swap tales of winter crabbing in the fierce Bering Sea.

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Water is a way of life here, but so are the mountains. If you have a friend with a boat you can access the perfect complimentary adventure of a sea to ski. On Saturday morning, we met Alayne’s friend at the harbor, loaded skis, skins, ice axes, packs into his small boat named Vamanos and motored across Kachemak Bay to the snowy peaks of the Kenai Range. Hours of uphill hiking among moose tracks and bulging piles of bear scat led us to alder bushwacking, soft snow skinning. We paused for lunch–king salmon that had been smoked by a friend, dark chocolate–and gazed at the bowls and ridges around us that bordered the sea.

“This sounds naiive to say,” I started, “but I had no idea life was so good in Alaska.” Alayne and Dan both smiled like they knew a deep secret I was just beginning to grasp.

Hours later we reached the high point of the ridge and gazed into Grewingk glacier. A haiku came to mind:

Granite icebergs burst

from a solid sea of white

ribbed with tints of blue

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We skied patches of soft corn snow and slowly picked our way back down among the alders, the moose tracks, the bear poop. We paused along the trail to collect fiddleheads and devil’s club shoots to cook later in the week with some newly acquired King Crab. By the time we reached the black sand of Hawaii Beach, it was nearly 11pm and the sun was iridescent on the water. At midnight, as we drove up Alayne’s driveway, we spotted a mama moose and her calf.

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How did I not know the wonders of this place before? It is as though I’m being let in on a great secret. Perhaps what makes it so secret is that you never really know the depth of the place until you experience it first hand. This is just the beginning.

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