Crossing the line from Stewart, British Columbia into Hyder, Alaska wasn’t quite as romantic as I’d long envisioned it would be, but my heart still skipped a beat. Alaska! My 50th state!
With its one narrow, muddy street and two bare-shelved general stores, Hyder wasn’t much to write home about (though I did send out a sheaf of celebratory Alaska postcards) but the drive out of town up to the Salmon Glacier was well worth the 1,400 mile trip up from Vancouver, not to mention the $6/gallon gas…
I spent three days overlooking Salmon Glacier- the fourth largest expanse of ice in North America, a river of ice so wide and white that it covers two countries: far western Canada and the edge of Alaska.
After three whole days of staring at the glacier, I still found it completely, overwhelmingly incomprehensible. Every time I looked at it, every time I opened my eyes, every time I blinked, I was wonderstruck. I hadn’t seen that kind of staggering scale since the Grand Canyon. Could I walk across it? Not without many days and a rope team. The countless crevasses looked big enough to swallow the Raven and the Rattler and many more lay hidden like trapdoors beneath the snow.
I wasn’t alone at the overlook. Keith “the Bear Man” Scott was there too. Keith has lived up there, in a tent, for the past 35 summers, staring at the glacier and getting to know the numerous black and grizzly bears that call the salmon-rich Salmon River valley home.
My first evening at the overlook, I struck up a conversation with Keith, bought a few of his homemade postcards and asked if I could cook him dinner. When I handed him a hot plate of pasta, he smiled and said, “You do this a lot, don’t you?” Why yes, I do.
I don’t think it ever occurred to me to make all 50 states a goal. After college, I remember declaring that I was going to live in a new place every year for five years and things just escalated from there. Now here I am, 30 years old, with all of America under my belt. I don’t just mean I’ve driven through all 50 states; I have hiked in all 50 states and gotten to know a part of each of them on foot.
I’ve reached a milestone, but I am far from finished. My mission in life has always been to see as much of the world as possible and I have no intention of slowing down anytime soon. Stay tuned to see lots more of this wonderful world!