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Leaving Alaska….The struggle to take that first step

March 8, 2016

The intense sunshine sparkled blindingly off the snow covered caldera. Though barely 30 degrees the intense sunlight had me sitting in shirt sleeves staring out at the majestic Wrangell mountains. This was my first visit to Alaska and sitting on that 10,000 foot mountain-top staring out at the overwhelming beauty stirred strong emotions within me.

Day 58…. From rafting down remote pristine glacial feed rivers to climbing glaciers with my daughter or standing at the foot of Denali, Americas tallest mountain, exploring isolated native villages on the Yukon and standing at the very top of North America with my son I indeed have been blessed over these past twenty years.

When one considers the millions upon millions of people who watch outdoor adventure or travel shows about Alaska on TV, and can but dream about visiting this majestic, remote and at times harsh land I consider the 20 years I have been privileged to live here not only a gift but an opportunity from God.

However now only days away from my 70th birthday and after spending an unusually strenuous November and early December I have come to the realization it may indeed be the time to move back to civilization. I know full well there are many other older Alaskan’s who live as I do, off grid in the wilderness, and manage to deal with whatever the Alaskan winter throws at them, but personally I think it is time for a change.

No… I do not want to give up this wilderness lifestyle or the freedom that comes with it anymore than I wish to never again spend time surrounded by mountains and valleys untouched by human hands. That said if one is honest with themselves they know when they are reaching a tipping point and you either act or loose the ability to act.

So my friends and dear readers I have decided to open my life to you for the next few months as I fight with this decision to stay or leave. I know the world continues to spin and produce many interesting things to write about, but for me the constant din about which candidate did what to whom just does not show up on my radar when I have to decide what to do with the rest of my life.

Currently I am planing on a 3,800 mile road trip to Texas in May to sign a lease on an apartment. My original thinking was that I could become a ‘snow bird’ or an Alaskan that spends the winters in a warmer climate and returns for the summers in Alaska. This idea is reinforced by the fact that after spending 20 years in Alaska and more importantly 14 years in this isolated cabin I may have become ‘institutionalized’ and may not be able to adjust back to living in a civilized society.

I realize this is not the writing you have come to enjoy on this blog, but right now it is all that my mind seems focused on and I hope you will indulge me, and walk along with me in my journey as I make my decision.


Americas last frontier Alaska is…
To walk where no man has been before
To gaze at wonders unseen by most
…and to leave this land is akin
to loosing a part of ones soul.


This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2016 12:56 pm

    That’s got to be a killer of a choice. Not one that you will be able to easily make. I’m currently just starting myself to build something ” off the grid” just to get away from it all.
    Do you have family in Texas. If you do I am sure that will take the sting of the move off just a bit.

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  2. March 8, 2016 4:04 pm

    Oh Pete, what a decision to be making; I don’t envy you. I can understand that there will be advantages to moving back to civilisation given your age, but there is, as you say, the possibility that you may have gotten institutionalized. I like the idea of moving south for the winter and then going back up north for the summer months. Whatever you decide, change is hard, so be patient with yourself.

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  3. Gina permalink
    March 8, 2016 4:51 pm

    Pete, I think what ever decision you make you will find things to write about. You’ll give your own unique interpretation of any event you encounter. When you make your own decision of where you want to be and who you want to be with I’m sure you’ll find your readers will be there with you !

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  4. Jon permalink
    March 8, 2016 5:50 pm

    Pete,
    I think the “6 of one & 1/2 dozen of the other” approach is the wise one to take as storki said. You have the chance to see for yourself which direction your heart will take you as to where you’ll spend the majority of the rest of your life. You know my wife & I have been to your place up the Elliot Hwy. & in a way, you already have the civilization with your neighbors & the relative closeness of Fairbanks, but yet just far enough out & apart to be, as you say, institutionalized. As Gina said, we are with you whichever direction you choose.

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  5. Terry permalink
    March 8, 2016 8:08 pm

    If you can make the “snow bird” thing work to start with I wouldn’t worry about it much more. In due course the future will sort itself out. Look forward happily 🙂

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