15 days, over 2,600 miles driven, and 68 hours on the road, our time in Alaska had simply left me speechless… From the towering snow capped peaks within Atigun Pass to the lush fall colors on the Kenai Peninsula, there was a vast amount of landscape and wildlife to witness here.
As a way to honor my fathers wishes after his passing, my mother (camp-chef mom) and I took on this journey in the far north where we would challenge ourselves in new ways while pushing outside of our comfort zone. Having never explored this region of the world we were in for many “firsts” including starting the trip off with a helicopter tour by having a birds eye view of waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, and rivers. This alone was an experience of a lifetime by being able to land and walk on the Knik Glacier miles away from any town while seeing the intense blue colors of the glacier water, almost as if it wasn’t real.
If you had asked me if I’d be standing within the Arctic Circle years ago, I’d probably have replied in saying no. This part of our trip was truly an inspirational moment. It requires taking the long drive up the famous Dalton Highway where services are bare minimal at best, not to mention the couple gas stations with prices starting in the high $7 range per gallon. The Arctic Circle was a milestone both my mom and I wanted to personally achieve as we both witnessed numerous individuals cross this line and being inspired by their journey. If one so chooses, they could take the Dalton Highway to its furthest point in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and touch the Arctic Ocean. While time constraints didn’t allow us to make the journey that far north we did stop at Atigun Pass where we were greeted by snowfall and towering mountains of the Brooks Range.
The final portion of our journey had taken us to the Kenai Peninsula where another check off the list occurred by visiting the Kenai Fjords National Park. This park is just outside the town of Seward, AK and is the gateway to Exit Glacier trailhead which is the only area of the park accessible by car. It was here we stretched our legs taking on a hike to witnessing Exit Glacier, saw wildlife including a moose taller than the truck, and found camp along the scenic Resurrection River. There’s something truly special about being surrounded by extraordinary scenic landscapes while being with the best of company on a trip.
Out of all the weather elements we experienced, which certainly felt like all of them, there were several items that made the complete difference in our trip being far more comfortable. One of them included our daily attire. From heavy rain, frigid cold snow, high winds, and even a spec of sunshine, Alaska’s weather can change at any given moment. Having the right gear for the job made living out of a vehicle for 15 days feel like a walk in the park. Thanks for the intuitive layering systems from Beyond Clothing, we were able to dress for the right occasion each day while saving valuable space in our bags due to the clothes being very packable when not in use. If I had to pick my favorites and could only bring a few items, these would be in my starting lineup:
Dasche L3 Jacket: Packing small enough to fit in a cup holder in the car and warm enough on the chilly evenings by the fire, the Dasche jacket was practically my daily go-to. I personally enjoyed the lightweight design and warmth ratio while not feeling weighed down like traditional heavy jackets. It was perfect when hiking in Denali National Park by having an active insulation and also having full movement when climbing around the truck putting away the roof top tent on a daily basis. Can’t say enough good things about this one!
ARX 2.0 L6 Rain Jacket: When the skies closed in with dark clouds and the rain really started pouring, the Arx held up time and time again. As you can imagine, filming a trip like this involved almost equal time out of the vehicle setting up cameras just as much as it did driving. Nothing beats standing in the downpour rain focusing the camera knowing you are completely dry underneath. What I also enjoyed about the Arx is its design of being highly abrasion resistant while offering lightweight capabilities of being a non-insulated shell. This meant I could fully layer up underneath when cold or simply run minimal base layers on those slightly warmer days.
Todra L1 S.S. Crew: Serving as a daily foundation no matter the weather conditions outside, the Todra was my first layer to all days spent in Alaska (packing more than one of course). This shirt provided breathability and moisture management allowing me to focus on the trip at hand vs. feeling uncomfortable on any engaged activity. Whether worn alone while working up a sweat on a hike or as the initial layer on the cold snowy days, I ensured the Todra shirts were packed in the bags well before stepping foot in Alaska.
After two weeks on the road and countless memories collect, I truly understand why Alaska is called The Last Frontier. This state is filled with rich history, incredible landscapes, and endless opportunities to embrace a part of the world unlike anything else. We started our trip with a specific purpose and left with a profound sense of accomplishment and appreciation. I highly recommend anyone seeking their next adventure to put Alaska on that list!