A journalist observes life in the far north.
I like this picture of Slate. You can see his dad in him. People say he mostly looks like me. And I agree. He does share my features. But his mouth is all Alec, whose mouth I haven’t seen in two weeks. On June 6, he left to climb Denali. He reached the top on Saturday. He’s presently at Base Camp waiting for the sky to clear so the small planes can fly people to and from the Alaska Range. His team, which includes climbers from South Africa, two of whom he met while climbing Mt. Everest, is first on the list to leave Base Camp.
From the outside looking in, the expedition appears to have run smoothly. They reached the top and descended the mountain in less than two weeks. That’s much shorter than Alec’s first two expeditions, which he did with a guiding service. Bad weather and equipment problems dogged those climbs. The third expedition, with a friend, fell apart in less than a week. The friend got really sick and abruptly left.
The South Africans, who made up most of the team for this fourth expedition, seemed strong and focused when I met them during their brief stay in Fairbanks.
I’ve enjoyed Alec’s absence by seeing more of my friends and keeping dinner time relaxing and low key. (One night, we ate cinnamon toast for dinner.) But I haven’t liked Saturday and Sunday mornings. Big breakfasts on the weekends are my favorite part of family life. It’s not the same without Alec.
When I see him next, he’ll be skinny. I won’t. I had planned to workout and avoid eating too much while Alec was gone. I’m afraid I didn’t do a very good job reaching that goal. I still eat like I work in farm fields.
I’ve downgraded my plan to hike the Chilkoot Trail this summer. This year, it’s going to have to be Granite Tors, a 15-mile loop not far from Fairbanks. It’s more realistic considering my ability and my responsibilities at home.
I’m a little sad about putting off the Chilkoot hike, but I have some cool hiking partners lined up who are interested in making it happen next summer.