We sat around a horseshoe table at a busy restaurant in Bayfield, Wisconsin. The 2013 summer paddling season was coming to an end, and dinner that night was a perfect time to recruit my fellow guides to help me fill out a cost benefit analysis. What am I going to do with my life after the summer?!
Move to the southwest desert states and take a job in wilderness therapy, guiding/leading/mentoring at risk youth on extended backcountry trips
Move to Alaska and train sled dogs for Iditarod, trade room and board for training and knowledge of dog mushing
Like so many similar decisions that we have all had to make in our lives, this one placed me firmly on a track towards the present day. Making the other choice would have also put me down a path, a much different path, and I am so happy with the decision that I made. How nice of an aspect of existence that we can be the architect of our own future with decisions like this. Or at least have the illusion that we made the decision...
Since that first autumn, when I moved up to help Karin Hendrickson train her dogs, Alaska has felt very 'homey'. The people are nice and possess an independent 'can do' spirit, and there is plenty of leg room without a lot of rules or people telling you how you can or can't put your legs up. There is a level of freedom up here that is hard to find elsewhere, and it's effects are written on the faces of it's inhabitants. I'm not sure if Alaska shapes it's people, or if only a certain type of person moves to Alaska, probably a bit of both, but I personally have been shaped by this country (small 'c') and the people that shovel out their lives up here.
All of my positive past experiences, and hope for the future, have led me to plant seeds and grow our roots up here in Alaska. We (the freeborn dogs and I) are now the proud and happy owners of 10 RAW acres of land on Old Ridge Trail in Ester, Alaska! It's ours to shape and mold, comes standard with great trail access and a solid group of neighbors, and fellow dog mushers. I am beyond excited to begin this project, and have so many questions and curiosities and anticipations about how to build our driveway, how to outline the dog yard, how to build our first cabin, etc. Tips/tricks/advice welcome!
So, this blog will reach out a few time this winter with tales of our camping trips and winter activities, but will be transformed come spring time into our building journal and means of sharing the progress as well develop our land and make it our home.
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