Alaskan Wilderness is the backdrop against which I grew up against. Good, bad, or indifferently I don’t recognize the place that I grew up in as wilderness. It is just my world. This picture is from north of Fairbanks and shows the playground that my siblings and I enjoyed. Our childhood house is north of Fairbanks and we spent good chunks of each summer traveling around the state to fish or berry pick or camp. My parents wanted to see as much of Alaska as they could and our family trips were all tied into this land. I didn’t realize as a younger child that people paid large amounts of money to visit my home or to spend time in Denali. The twice annual trips into Denali were a beginning and ending for summer for my family and as slightly troublesome thirteen and eleven year olds my younger brother and I had mastered fooling multiple park road tourist buses into stopping to look at what we were looking at. Only after a few minutes of looking we would wander across the road and look into the woods on the other side of the road just intently. Quite harmless fun, but we underestimated the hold that Alaska has on lower forty-eighters, because it was so normal to us.
I was a Boy Scout and did earn my Eagle Scout, but this was merely a byproduct of the sheer outdoor experiences we did monthly. By the age of 18 I had backpacked two-week trips, ran multiple interior rivers, skied the White Mountains, explored multiple glaciers via skis, been ice caving, and slept in the snow at negative sixty. I am not listing this as a brag board because that would undercut these experiences, I am sharing them as a basis for what we thought was normal. Tent camping in our Alaska year-round was key. It allowed me to continue my love for Alaska in Junior and Senior High School. I did leave state for school for a couple of years and was deeply stressed by the city and was all too glad to follow then girlfriend and now wife back home to Fairbanks.
Now as an adult I am not able to spend as much time as I want in the Alaska I grew up in. I do work a lot in order to take care of my family and a lack of time in the woods has changed my relationship with Alaska. It is less of just being out there and now more of purposeful trips that define my understanding of our Alaska. I am berry picking, fishing, hunting, skiing, wood cutting, and visiting our cabin. I still don’t see it as a wilderness, but I do see it has a bit more foreign than I did growing up and have not fully processed how that change of perspective will change me as an Alaskan