The stories from the readings this week were intense. They spoke to one of the realities of the Alaskan Wilderness; it can kill you. I spend time in the wilderness engaging in recreation and subsistence activities. To me, the wilderness is a place of excitement, mystery, and beauty. I have been in the backcountry snowboarding; sliding down pristine sparkling hills of glittering snow in the sunshine. I have pulled huge salmon from clear running rivers as well as rivers clouded with silt. I have climbed through the hills smelling the scent of fall in the mountains and hunting for caribou.
But, my engagement with the wilderness does not go to the extremes as described in the stories; landing an airplane on a raging river, clutching for dear life with one hand on the side of a mountain as 100 mph winds try to blow me away, or chasing after wildlife hoping to become one of them. I do not want to become one with nature in those extreme ways, ways that could easily result in me losing my life! To me, the Alaskan wilderness is a place where my senses are invigorated and my spirit is heightened.