• Beyond the Unknown

Exploring the deep wilderness in the back ranges of Alaska was always an elusive dream to me as a young boy. The sheer anticipation and excitement which ravaged through my body as the co-pilot announced we would shortly be making our descent into Anchorage was completely new to me as a human being. Two weeks in Alaska just didn’t seem enough time for me. A lifetime did not feel long enough for me. Hauling my luggage out of the airport I grabbed a taxi which was covered completely in snow. Everything was covered in white. One look at the people of anchorage signified to me that this was just the everyday life that they led and I was in a different world. I jumped in the backseat with my backpacks and the driver immediately greeted me with a pleasant ‘good afternoon, where do you want to go’. I asked him where if he knew of somewhere nice to stay in town. He looked at me and said ‘well there are all different kinds of places round here’. I realised whilst staring at his frosty covered moustache that nice wasn’t the best adjective to use. ‘Do you know of any bed and breakfast places here, that kind of thing?’ I asked. He looked at me, letting through a tiny grin and uttered ‘Plenty of those here’. The car trudged through the snow for about twenty five minutes until it came to a halt. We were parked outside a small light brown house with a Porch that had a husky led next to a man of great size and age on it. ‘One of the best places you’ll ever stay’ the driver said. I handed him the thirty dollars and slung my bags over my shoulders and left the car. The temperature was way below freezing and my face was pale enough to prove it. The husky stay led next to the man as I was walking up the steps, it was one of the most beautiful animals I had seen. ‘Afternoon young man’ the man said, easing his way off his chair and making his way towards me. I thought I was a tall guy being six foot four, but this guy was huge. ‘HI, I’m looking for somewhere to stay for a while’ I said, trying to keep my teeth from shuddering. ‘You came to the right place, let’s walk and talk’ he said and politely took my bag from me. The husky followed him inside, it was like father and son. The house was like something you see in a Christmas advert but more real and with emotion. We walked past the front room to a side office where he dealt with the guest. I told him I was here for two weeks and just needed a room with a bed. I walked upstairs to a small room at the back of the corridor with John, he was quick to make me feel at home and tell me all about him. I was staying in a small quaint cosy room. That night I decided to head to town for some food and try to see the local life of the town. Sat in a small booth in ‘Bs bar’ I noticed how close and friendly everything seemed here. Nobody appeared to be uncomfortable and everyone was enjoying the simple fun they were having in the warmth with their friends. When I walked back that night I bumped into a small person who didn’t look like she was from around this area, the look of bemusement on her face was the first I had seen. With one long stare as cold as the night from her, she proceeded on past me. After coffee with John and his dog Muriel the next morning, I headed out for my first Alaskan experience. Hiking across the hills, people were sat by streams fishing in the crystal water for salmon. The quiet serenity across the hills put me at ease, I didn’t know where I was going, but that was what made me so peaceful. No maps, laptops or mobile phones were to interfere with the tranquillity that surrounded me. A group of locals offered to take me to the National Park so I could see all the wildlife with them, but the feeling of peace dominated my body, the solitude of Alaska became me. The locals did however tell me that if I like nature so much I should go up to the Tibet hillside at night when nobody is there. Later that same night I had drank some whisky that John gave me whilst sat by the fire in his main room, the warm soothing feeling when it trickled down my throat was indescribable. The idea of going up the Tibet hillside on this mercilessly cold night seemed so appealing that I just couldn’t pass it up. Hills in Alaska were steep and always unbelievably hard to walk up, but turning back was never a thought. Reaching the top of the hill, I stood in awe and wonder at what beheld my eyes. Looking down upon the quiet town everything was so clear. Being in the dark on one’s own late at night near the forest in the Alaskan outback may seem like a frightening experience to many, but this was a spiritual awakening. The modern conventional traps of society were nowhere to be seen, all that stood before me was the beauty of nature. In a state of utter serenity, a rustle in the branches not far behind me sent my body tingling. A small figure in a hood was stood opposite gazing into the distance, before turning to me and removing the hood. Nor then or now have I been a religious man, but two things I had seen made me feel as if some divine work had been in place. The landscape surrounding the hillsides, and the natural beauty of the girl stood before me. Silence engulfed the entire area, whilst Alaska was fast asleep, my body and soul was alive. Into the early hours of the morning we sat side by side, embracing everything that could be embraced. Nine months after leaving Alaska, my journey back led us both to the top of the Tibet hillside. On the night of December 18th, underneath the lights that shine for all to see in the North, the proposal of marriage led us onto our life long journey together.

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