Driving to Alaska, Coming Back Home
It's been awhile since we've shared anything about our whereabouts and do-abouts, & some amazing journeys have taken place! Give or take 2000 and some miles...
Skye has graduated from Quest University with a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences! Watching him present his 35 page thesis paper and bring this life chapter to a close has been inspiring and exciting.
To celebrate we took a trip to some beautiful hot springs Washington that began in a cave and happened to have them all to ourselves. It was a nice break in between the few weeks it to took to organize all our things (that we could fit) into my truck to begin the drive back up north to Alaska.
The trip was beautiful. At first we criss crossed southern BC into the intermountain zone between the Coastal mountains and the Rockies. We camped in the desert of BC surrounded by sagebrush growing silver green above the dusty ground, joined by the sunny flowering of balsam root and hairy arnica. The purple spears of lupine pointed straight up towards the sky.
We visited the final resting place of 3 generations of Skye's paternal lineage. We walked and walked across the grid of stone slabs, unable to find the names we were searching for. However when we first arrived we both noticed this giant sage leaning out over the fence, using it as support to grow into the largest sage tree we had ever seen. Ultimately, with neither of us successful we found ourselves drawn to this massive sage. Standing there we realized that our intention had been to come connect with ancestors, and that the burning of this ancestral sage would mean so much more to us, and stretch back so much farther. We wrapped three bundles to take with us, and said our own thanks to the land.
Instead of long road trip hours, we usually drove only about 4 a day. Choosing to take our time we had the chance to stop before our first rainstorm and harvest arnica from a ponderosa spotted slope, collect drinking water from mountain streams, swim in the tropical blue mineral waters of the northern Rockies, and collect resin from spruce and leaves from labrador.
The closer to the coast we got the more the moisture set in. Soon we drove in the rain, and camped on moist beds of needles & cottonwood leaves. We drank tea overlooking frozen volcanoes, and soaked in the warm waters frequent amongst the geothermally active earth. We listened to Robin Wall Kimmer's audio telling of her own book Braiding Sweetgrass, as she tells the story through science & indigenous tradition, the ancestral role of humans tending the land, and each night we slept below the sky, reading aloud our story book, the Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. As she paints a picture of the life of the turn of the century artist Emily Carr and her journey of finding relationship to place while witnessing the cultures of the people the First Nations of BC be stripped of theirs.
In the Telhkini Valley of the Yukon we visited the Long Ago Peoples Place and met Mida, an advocate and educator sharing skills & knowledge of the Southern Tutchone people in a traditonal village setting. We listened as she shared her vision and drive to re-educate the First Nation youth to be skillful in their ancestral lands, and certified in Wilderness rescue & safety, to again guide people through not only the Yukon Territory, but the history of their culture.
We drove through the summit pass delineating the imaginary line of Canada and America. We climbed up through the barren, but for beaver den pyramids, misty, snow flecked northern slopes, to descend into the the lush green southern hills that frame the northern edge of the Inside Passage.
The familiar shapes of fluffy horsetail, sleepy hemlocks, greeted us from the ground and the sky. The familiar smells of skunk cabbage rolled through on the damp forest breeze, and the vibrant green of spruce tips, plumed in new growth speckled the dense texture of endless trees. The salty air licked our skin, along with the seemingly endless golden hour of the soon to be midnight sun.
We took the ferry from Haines to Juneau, and have been visiting in the captial of Alaska for a little less than a week. Being back in this area I feel so at home in my blood and my bones. But we head onward, back onto the ferry, the Alaska Marine Highway, to land in a new zone here, for both me and Skye. We're moving to the little town of Gustavus! && the adventure continues...
Sending love to those we've met, seen, visited with, and all the family thats hosted us this winter, with hearts full of gratitude, we're settling in for the summer.