Catch the cold in Alaska
The packed snow crunches under my feet on the driveway. It’s February, the tail end of the northern winter, and my partner and I have just arrived in Kenai, Alaska, to spend a week touring around with an old friend.
Earlier, as we fly up the Canadian coast toward Anchorage, I stare out at a frozen planet. Passing endless expanses of jagged, snow-covered mountains I wonder if I have made a huge mistake visiting Alaska in the low, cold season.
During our first few days we explore Kenai. At a summer swimming spot we walk on the shore among headhigh blocks of sea ice. Later, to catch the sunset, we hike on a lake where instead of kayakers we find ice fishers.
At times it is so bitterly cold that only short sharp adventures are feasible followed by warming brews and fortifying spirits. There are some great deals with lowseason prices but also the inevitable “closed” signs on some restaurants, galleries and local attractions.
That is OK because there are enough places open to sample local cuisine. We enjoy the quiet and find many locals have time and opportunity to chat. In Alaska, big nature is king and it’s there year-round. We head for Homer, a fishing port and summer tourist mecca. At the end of a narrow causeway, known as Land’s End, we settle into our hotel room overlooking Katchemak Bay.
The spout of a humpback whale throws a misty spray across the deep-blue windswept harbour flanked by glaciers and mountain peaks. Seals and otters patrol the shoreline among flocks of seabirds while bald eagles perch on driftwood on the beach. A cosy dinner and glimpses of the Northern Lights are the final touches for a wonderful stay that has rekindled a great friendship.
On our final evening in Kenai I sit in a spa with a glass of wine, as snowflakes settle and melt on my shoulders. I wouldn’t swap my winter week in Alaska for anything.
I do want to go back. I feel the sense of anticipation and excitement that comes with the approach of spring. I want to see the salmon run, watch a bear catch a fish and lie on the grass under the midnight sun. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: firstname.lastname@example.org. Columnists will receive a Braven 405 Bluetooth speaker with a lightweight, durable and waterproof casing, 15m wireless range and 24 hours of play time; $129.95. More: braven.com.au.