When my mom mentioned this May that we were possibly going on a 15-day trip to Alaska, I had to admit I was hesitant. Part of the trip included a weeklong cruise, which I was not too thrilled about because I have a history of awful experiences with boats. As soon as we began the trip July 22, I realized just how wrong I had been — Anchorage is breathtaking in the summertime.
One of the first few things we did once we arrived was bike next to an ice-covered lake, and go on a train ride through the mountains. When looking outside my window, I could only see wilderness expanding for miles and miles. It rains frequently in Alaska but when the skies clear up, it’s truly magnificent because the scenery is 100 percent postcard-worthy.
Soon after, we took another train ride into Denali National Park and Preserve, where we stayed for a couple of days in a small cabin deep inside the woods. While the cabin was cozy and homey, its surroundings offered community and entertainment. There was a big fire pit in the middle of all the cabins, a shop selling Alaskan wooden crafts and an ice cream shop. Next to the cabins, there was a river where we went whitewater rafting and skipped rocks.
On one of our last days in Denali, we took a 10-mile hike through the woods where we ate wild blueberries and raspberries at the top, looking at the endless peaks of surrounding mountains and passing bear tracks while we walked.
We also took a bus ride through the national park, where we had to follow a slow walking caribou for five miles because it chose to walk in the middle of the dirt road. We saw several bear cubs running after their mother in addition to some sleeping moose.
One week into the trip, we went aboard the Norwegian Sun, a cruise that took us from Anchorage to Vancouver. We spent the first day on the sea, passing glaciers and looking at sea lions and whales in the water.
On the days where we were not on the ship, we did various activities ranging from hiking the Mendenhall Glacier, which is 13.6 miles long, to zip-lining in Ketchikan, where bear cubs were actually climbing trees near us. Lastly, we went canoeing in the small town of Skagway before we crossed over into Canada and got off at Vancouver.
Even though I was reluctant to leave the comforts of my home and my high school friends, Alaska is the best place I’ve visited (and it probably will be for the rest of my life). Where else can you find a state so big you could fit Rhode Island in it 425 times and so wild that you could see a bear any day you please?
Contact Emilia Malachowski at [email protected].