Denali stole my heart: wide open vistas, alpine tundra slopes, Dall Sheep grazing on rugged mountain peaks. Wilderness. Wolves. Grizzly bears. The challenge of it all. The freedom. The evolution of the short summer season, from an eager and intense spring to the snowflakes and stillness of fall. The hard work & the camaraderie. One season and I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough, and everything had changed.
Since that first season I have learned to ride horses working at a dude ranch in the Sonoran desert, learned to ski at a couple of resorts, sharpened my golf game in Vermont, salmon fished the Kenai River and Resurrection Bay, explored historic Mackinac Island, lived a couple hundred feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon, and enjoyed expansive Denali.
It was March 18th, 2014. I was sitting at my desk, pretending to be working on a spreadsheet, counting down the hours until 5:00. I was longingly staring at pictures of the mountains on my computer and applying for jobs on CoolWorks.com when I received a phone call from an unknown number. Relieved to have a chance to walk outside for a moment, I answered.
My friends and I jokingly call our home here Neverland, an imaginary time warp that confuses the days and all inklings of time passing. It’s strange to me that this lifestyle which in so many ways contradicts most people’s perceptions of “real life” is the life that fills me up and overloads me with a burning desire to live and love and, most importantly, to never stop yearning.
After work, on my weekends – sometimes during breaks – I get to splash around in glacial lakes, explore caves, roam some of the most gorgeous canyons ever carved into this hard earth and sound my barbaric yawp anywhere I please. I come back to my cabin on Jackson Lake, change out of my smelly backpacking gear and serve pizza to people from all over the world experiencing the home I’ve come to know for the first time ever.