When examining Alaskan Wilderness, the Machiavellian question of “Is it better to be feared or loved?” seems oddly appropriate. The correct answer to this, in Machiavellian doctrine, is that out of fear will eventually come love, and that rings true for Alaskan Wilderness as well. With a healthy dose of respect for the forces out there, one can learn to love it.
There are plenty of things to fear out there — the weather, the animals (even moose can be dangerous), and accidents that can occur anywhere if you’re not ready. Probably the greatest obstacle for those growing accustomed to the state is getting used to the idea that the biggest challenge is simple preparedness: cold weather gear, car maintenance to avoid breakdowns, extra stores in case weather is impassable, even just knowing how to change a flat tire, as areas without cellphone service are common and even in areas with service the impersonal company on the other end probably has no idea where you are.
We tend to fashion ourselves survivors and scoff at those that get themselves into bad situations, but to be honest, that could happen to anyone and all it takes is one moment of obliviousness to misstep. And even with this fact, there is still a lot to love. The mountains, the rivers, the glaciers, and just the fact that you are in a constant conversation with your surroundings and you live in a realm of reactions rather than dictating your environment.
The fact that I enjoy the difficulties that come in living in a “wild” state is one main reason why I stay here. I love the challenge, but I feel the beauty and the interactions with nature are so worth the challenges and obstacles I may face. Sure, -40˚F isn’t a fun temperature to drive to work at 5:45 am, with black ice on the roads and ice fog (ie, car exhaust that can’t leave) in my lungs, but have you seen the hoarfrost and our sunrises?
One way I make the Alaskan Wilderness part of my daily life is stopping every single day to appreciate it. If I stop appreciating the nature around me, I start resenting the obstacles and I stop understanding why I live here. And to be honest, I couldn’t imagine living in any other place on earth.
(Unless noted, all photos are my own)