Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Adventure Series Part 3: Conquering Doubt on Sixmile

Six or seven months ago I remember saying it would take "years to build back up to a Sixmile level." I imagined Alaska's Sixmile Creek to be a whitewater run on the same stature as Colorado's Gore Canyon, an infamous regional testpiece for expert kayakers. I've been out of the whitewater scene for a while and it had been many years since I'd ventured onto such treacherous waters.

In the end, I did it and I was proud. Sure I watched paddlers with very little experience bump their way down it at low water right next to me, so the accomplishment is no incredible feat, but it was a goal met and that felt good.

For this blogpost I'm going to try something a little different. My return to whitewater paddling after a considerable hiatus came also with a return of my old passion of documenting my adventures on video and making short, mediocre "films" out of them. So to steal the words from the rest of my essay, I will let my highlight video from my several trips to Sixmile Creek on my packraft serve as my voice to tell this story.

NOTE: This post is part three in my "Adventure Series". Click on the links for part one and part two.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for my mailing list. When not spending my time living my dream of being a river bum, I blog about all sorts of crazy, educational, entertaining, and occasionally funny topics from what makes an effective first paragraph to giant redwoodsmedieval sailboats, the ancient Mayans and more. If you do sign up, you will get a once-a-week update on my posts (if there are any) and NOTHING ELSE! No spam, no selling your email to third parties. Okay, if I ever get around to publishing one of these works in progress that are constantly haunting me, I might send out an email letting you know. In the meantime thanks for reading!

find us on facebook

All writing is the original work of Brian Wright and may not be copied, distributed, re-printed or used any form without express written consent of the author. Find out here how to CONTACT me with publishing and/or use questions 


Sunday, November 24, 2019

A New Blog

For those of you who follow me (hi mom!), you all know that my blog efforts stalled out a while ago. It's a lot of work! But I think I've come up with a way to do a little CPR on this dusty blog and come up with an outlet for the creative explosions I've been experiencing lately.

Other than my recent efforts composing my "Adventure Series," I haven't visited you here for awhile, but that doesn't mean I've given up on writing or anything like that. It just means that the form, blogging, in the manner I was doing it at least, had tipped towards "tedious" on the work/reward scale. The lengthy monologues I was composing before took time, a lot of time and as many of you who have pursued any sort of creative art, an audience can be hard to find.

Anyway, so I had an idea for a way to open up the blog, get some use out of it and help keep momentum on my creative endeavors.

My creative expression has expanded beyond just writing. I have taken a deeper interest in photography, film and music lately. In other words, moving forward I'm going to use this blog as a medium for sharing my work of all sorts, not just creative writing. You might find travel essays, stories of real-life adventure woe, short films, or music that I have composed and recorded. Some days you might just find a single photograph...no caption or explanation. Who knows? The point is, at least there will be something. And for those of you that enjoy a variety show, maybe you're in the perfect place!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for my mailing list. If you do sign up, you will get a once-a-week update on my posts (if there are any) and NOTHING ELSE! No spam, no selling your email to third parties. Okay, if I ever get around to publishing one of these works in progress that are constantly haunting me, I might send out an email letting you know. In the meantime thanks for reading!

find us on facebook

All writing is the original work of Brian Wright and may not be copied, distributed, re-printed or used any form without express written consent of the author. Find out here how to CONTACT me with publishing and/or use questions 



Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Adventure Series Part 2: Discovering Northwestern

Pick your paradise. 

The first time your eyes fell on it, your breath choked backwards in your throat. It was one of those places so effortlessly sublime it felt surreal. It seemed proof of the divine. Picture this place.

Now, let me tell you about one of mine.

In a remote corner of the Southern Alaska coast. In a bedrock gash between hacksaw granite ridges iced with decadent glacier frosting, lies Northwestern Fjord. 

Leaping from sea to the summit of McCarty Peak (6,500') in about three miles, Northwestern boasts topographical relief on par with the classic American destinations: Yosemite, the Tetons, the Grand Canyon. This nest of  natural splendor hosts myriad waterfalls showering brilliant jewels down stern rock faces, innumerable glaciers spilling over serrated ridgelines, and wildlife by the thousand: harbor seals and seabirds, otters and crustaceans. Even the occasional transient orca pod has been spotted braving icy seas in search of fresh prey. 

And look, at the bottom, tiny and insignificant, a group of sea kayakers, cute in their colorful little toys. One of them happens to be me.

As a sea kayak guide in Kenai Fjords National Park, I got to visit Northwestern more times in one summer than most locals get to in their whole lifetime. I witnessed its many moods: bright and glorious, dark and temperamental. I saw it slashing down rain, I saw it darken with heavy smoke from a massive wildfire. I saw it choke with ice and roar with catabatic williwaws. I saw my two largest glacial calving events of the summer here, one of which scared me.

Every day a different shade.


This place called to me. Rugged and unforgiving yet graceful and serene, something about Northwestern Fjord rooted deep. Of all the incredible places I got to see through my job as a kayak guide, none seemed to fit in this same way. Yes, when it's my time and I'm back to being dust like the old words say, I hope a few of my ashes scatter here so they can swirl around in the ocean eddies and sink to the bottom.

I understand ocean life better now and, since the sea is such an integral part of life in coastal Alaska, my picture of this wild area I call home is a little clearer. My love of and time in Northwestern Fjord helped me to commune with Alaska, and hopefully helped it commune with me.

This was part 2 in my "Adventure Series" of blog posts. To visit/re-visit part 1, please click this link. To read part 3, click here.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for my mailing list. When not waxing on and on about my favorite places in the world, I blog about all sorts of crazy, educational, entertaining, and occasionally funny topics from what makes an effective first paragraph to giant redwoodsmedieval sailboats, the ancient Mayans and more. If you do sign up, you will get a once-a-week update on my posts (if there are any) and NOTHING ELSE! No spam, no selling your email to third parties. Okay, if I ever get around to publishing one of these works in progress that are constantly haunting me, I might send out an email letting you know. In the meantime thanks for reading!

find us on facebook

All writing is the original work of Brian Wright and may not be copied, distributed, re-printed or used any form without express written consent of the author. Find out here how to CONTACT me with publishing and/or use questions 


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Adventure Series Part I: The Summer I Became Alaskan (even if only in my own mind)

Sixmile Canyon Whitewater
Packrafting First Canyon on Sixmile Creek
Awhile back, when I was quite a bit more, ahem, active with my blog, I pondered what it meant to be 'Alaskan'. At the time I had lived in this massive and complicated state for seven months. Now, almost two years after penning that post, I sit today in the same place, pondering the same basic question.

"Alaskan," Strictly Speaking

People are proud in Alaska. Proud of the incredible landscape and unique local color. Proud that, though to nearly everyone else Alaska is a wonderland of superlatives and extremes, to them it is simply home.

Legally, a person becomes a resident of Alaska after living in the state for a calendar year. However, a friend (a fourth-generation Sewardite I should add) recently voiced that she would never accept someone's claim of being "Alaskan," strictly speaking, until they had lived here longer than all other places combined. By that rubric, since I moved here in 2017 at age 33, I wont qualify until 2050.

So no... I'm not Alaskan.

But What is Alaska anyway?

The word "Alaska" for most conjures images of muscled brown bears wrangling salmon from alpine streams a glacier-capped summits lanced skyward in the background, or ethereal aurora borealis dancing over pale snow blankets and frozen lakes. There is a global sense that Alaska has become the western hemisphere's superlative for nature at its most raw and rugged. In short, what makes Alaska Alaska, are mountains, wildlife, and the wilderness.

A Kafka Moment

One day recently, I woke up transformed. The place I'd lived for two and a half years felt different. I no longer felt like a traveler. All of the wondrous extremes a person could witness here were no longer new and novel. They were simply home. Alaska had become a part of me in a essential way, like my body had absorbed it via osmosis. But when exactly had this metamorphosis taken place? And how?
Cake picnic overlooking Godwin Glacier 7/29/19

A Blog Series!

Enter the summer of 2019. For five months I was immersed in the Alaskan landscape as a deckhand and sea kayak guide. I logged fifty sea days bumping through the rugged North Alaska Gulf seeking the most speculator places to sea kayak on Earth. Days off saw me scurrying to the summits of rugged local mountains or hurling my packraft down frothing rivers. When fall fell over the landscape, I could finally relax and digest the collective experience of this summer and what it meant.

To explore this insight, I'm endeavoring on a four-part blog series (the "Adventure" series) to revisit key moments, places and features of my summer that made it so transformative. In other words, I am attempting to capture in words a snapshot of how I transitioned from tourist to traveler, and finally, after over two years, from traveler to resident, even if I'm still not, and perhaps never will be, officially Alaskan ;-P 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for my mailing list. When not fixating on definitions of being "Alaskan" (and when I wrestle a little time/motivation from my day), I blog about all sorts of crazy, educational, entertaining, and occasionally funny topics from what makes an effective first paragraph to giant redwoodsmedieval sailboats, the ancient Mayans and more. If you do sign up, you will get a once-a-week update on my posts (if there are any) and NOTHING ELSE! No spam, no selling your email to third parties. Okay, if I ever get around to publishing one of these works in progress that are constantly haunting me, I might send out an email letting you know. In the meantime thanks for reading!

find us on facebook

All writing is the original work of Brian Wright and may not be copied, distributed, re-printed or used any form without express written consent of the author. Find out here how to CONTACT me with publishing and/or use questions