My Great Alaskan Adventure: MacLaren Wilderness Center and Backcountry

June 25, 2016

When we arrived at MacLaren Wilderness Lodge we received our room assignments and went to claim beds. My room consisted of me, Mackenzie, Edie, and Morgan- a great group even though, honestly, no combination of girls would be bad because I already loved everyone like a dysfunctional little family. After we unpacked and I stealthily stole the kettle corn, Kristen came in to see if anyone wanted to workout with her and Josh. Edie and I reluctantly agreed because up until that point the trip consisted of mostly just sitting. We ran up a massive hill (it’s almost as if we were in the mountains… oh wait) and did a mix of exercises before running back down. During our cool-down we had a randomly deep conversation about religion. I was designated the “sassy trouble-maker” of the group to which I replied, “impossible, I’m a good catholic girl,” motioning to the Kairos cross around my neck. Josh then asked me about my faith and I learned that he too was a Christian and seemed to have a strong basis of belief. This was a conversation that I hope to get further into at a later part of the trip.

By the time we returned to the group it was almost time for dinner. It was a “real meal” because we got to choose off of a menu and did not have to cook or clean-up afterwards, which was a nice change of pace. I sat with Morgan, Edie, Ethan, Leah, and Rory. I ordered a bacon-cheese burger and it was exactly what I needed. After dinner we gathered to play Cards Against Humanity. I won with about five black cards when the game ended. The game revealed that Edie, Breezy, Ethan, and I were the four most morbid people on the trip, which was honestly kind of what I expected. The game ended when Kristen came in to give us the run-down for the following day- we were going into backcountry for a night and had to re-pack our packs. After she finished talking to us, I left to begin packing Cheaper by the Dozen since there were twelve of us on the trip. After it ended Josh sent us to bed where I thought I’d just instantly pass out, but my room ended up staying up and talking until almost 1:00 AM.

June 26, 2016

Waking up in a “normal bed” this morning was incredibly refreshing in comparison to waking up mummified in my sleeping bag. Breakfast continued the good morning because we had once again a “real meal” and I was able to get a ham and cheese omelet with tomatoes, hash browns, and coffee. After breakfast I was able to take some time for myself and journal, which was incredibly important for my mental sanity. In order for me to keep up high-energy, I first needed to take time for myself.

That night we would be camping in the backcountry and we had to take a boat to the location in two shifts. I was on the second shift, so the girls minus Laura and Ann went for a walk to a nearby bridge with a great view while I sat on the bridge (sorry Dad!) and wrote. The boat ride was amazing and I could not stop smiling. Our campsite was on this breath-taking plain with the river to one side and snow-capped mountains to our other.

Once we had fully unpacked we grabbed our water-bottles and cameras then set off to hike a giant rock. This was our first active activity of the trip, which was a nice adrenaline release, The beginning of the hike was relatively flat, although we did have to jump a couple of rivers. Josh continued to show us his “tracking skills” from footprints that he has demonstrated earlier at lunch. He had dramatized the demonstration, but he was still surprisingly accurate in guess whose footprints were whose. Our guide for the excursion, Matt, was incredibly knowledgeable and entertained us during the flat part of the hike. The steep part was only about twenty minutes and the view at the top was probably one of the best of the entire trip. We took some pictures on these huge rocks and then climbed to the other side to take pictures of the glaciers and snow-covered mountains. I was terrified Ethan was going to die as he climbed further and further out onto the cliff, but he didn’t. Then the girls did really bad yoga while everyone else laughed and took pictures. Before we walked back down Josh had us take a few moments to just take in our surroundings and think. The walk down was quicker because we just bushwhacked and slid down the rock. Josh and Kristen talked to me about what it would take to be a rustic leader. They each individually told me they thought I could handle it and said they would write me recommendations- assuming I could stay out of trouble. Josh and I then talked more about faith and it was comforting to know that there was someone out here who had a similar a faith and similar beliefs as me out here. Right before we arrived back at camp, Kristin showed us how to clean water with a water pump.

When we arrived back at the camp we settled in for a relaxing evening. We played an incredibly frustrating game of Uno for at least two hours. Finally, dinner arrived with Matt, ending the game and probably saving a lot of our friendships. The dinner was lasagna and delicious warm bread and butter. After dinner we all just sat around the campfire and talked until about 10:30 P.M. We then moved into my tent for a dance pater. Even though we didn’t really dance much, it was still a fun time and we all spent the time doubled over in laughter. Once Kristin and Josh kicked everyone out of our tent, Edie, Leah, and I stayed about for probably at least another three hours talking, singing, and annoying the guys in the tent next to us.

It’s crazy to think that we’re already over a third of the way done the trip. I feel like the last two days has brought us all so much closer as a group. I am looking forward to the end to see where the trip takes us but I know it will be hard to say goodbye to everyone. I’m just going to take it all one day at a time.

***Oh, we also had an outhouse with no door and an amazing view, her name was Allison.

June 27, 2016

I made the first boat back to camp this morning that left around 8:00 A.M. Back at MacLaren Lodge there was an accident with an engine while trying to fix the big boat. Since the big boat was still broken, Matt had to take four river trips to get all of us and our stuff back instead of only three. Breezy, Jack, Kristin, and myself froze on the first ride. The warm breakfast followed by a hot shower made it slightly better; however, during breakfast I realized I had lost my wallet. I was sure it was not in my bag and most likely back at the mercantile shop in Denali. After I showered, I took the opportunity to FaceTime Dad and Zack quickly just to check in before Zack left for Costa Rica. I had time to journal too which was great because I was able to take some me time and relax. Overall I am very happy with my dedication to journaling throughout the trip so far.

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