Are you hunkered down in camp, poking the tarp to drain the water, and trying to get a fire lit while listening intently for the plane that hasn’t come? Classic Alaskan experience. There are so many factors that limit travel, sometimes you just have to wait…and wait…..and wait
I’ve been stuck while sea kayaking. Several days we waited for the seas on the outer coast of Southeast Alaska to calm down enough to pass. The seas were 5-6 feet and winds strong enough that we couldn’t make the next 20-mile leg so we waited for an extra 4 days. We had a nice camp, plenty of wood and a good source of freshwater. Even the beach fishing yielded a coho. We made a hammock out of a discarded fishing net and kept the fire going. We explored the area and went for a swim. Finally the swell died down and we were able to pass.
I’ve been stuck packrafting in the Brooks Range. On completion of a trip we waited for a plane that seemed interminably late. Maybe it was just a day, but it felt longer. Lucky we had a good lake to swim in and a little extra food. The weather was nice and even the bugs gave us a decent break. We played cards until we got bored and then went for a hike. Eventually a tourist touched down on the same lake; his bucket list goal was to set foot on every national park and this was one of his last. The tourist’s pilot communicated with ours and came to get us a few hours later.
I’ve been stuck on a mountain waiting for a rescue (after a finger amputation from a falling rock). The helicopter was delayed trying to find a place to land in thick cloud cover. After calling them with a 2006 cell phone they finally came but it was an hour before they could find a hole in the clouds and a landing site safe enough for them to touch down. The touchdown was brief, only long enough to load the injured passenger and off they went. Thanks to the valiant rescue, the digit is now back in its’ original place.
Maybe it’s fog or low cloud cover, maybe the mountain pass is too windy, or maybe there is an untimely snowstorm. No matter the situation, come prepared. Pack a little more food than you think you will need. Be prepared to harvest some food along the way. Bring some fire starter. Most important, expect that at least some of your Alaskan experience will be ‘type 2’ fun, something to suffer through right now but fondly reminisce later on. Even with modern communication technology, bush planes can’t land in bad weather and you’re stuck. Get comfortable and wait it out. I have found that full bellies around a campfire sharing stories is the best tonic, maybe with some the last of the cheap whiskey.