Alaska is the land of moose, caribou, midnight sun, and a host of characters you’ll only find here on the last frontier. In fact, you’ll have just as much fun turning those spotting scopes towards town as you will towards that massive nest of bald eagles. Look at that – there are locals grazing! Here are just a few characters to look out for.
1. The Hardcore Outdoorsman
In winter, his beard is so frosted with ice crystals, you’re convinced he’s using it as a freezer for the meat he kills with his bare hands. In spring, he’s indistinguishable from the bears that recently emerged from hibernation. If you appreciate a guy who can survive through almost any climate and circumstance, you’ll love the hardcore outdoorsman.
2. The River Guide
She’s got the buffest paddling arms the Copper River Basin has ever seen, a permanent life vest tan, and a nose that’s always white with sunscreen. She knows every white water grade for every river in the state and can pop off a list of local fish stats, tell wild local tales over a campfire and drop cheesy river jokes into any conversation. But while her tours may be all fun and games, she’ll jump into the rapids in an instant to grab someone who’s struggling. You definitely want her in your boat.
3. The Back to Nature Guy
This dude wants to be the Hardcore Outdoorsman, but is instead the primary reason why native Alaskans must suffer through endless circular conversations about Into the Wild with non-natives. He moved to Alaska to get out of the office and back into touch with nature, and often says things like, “Do you ever look at the stars and wonder what else is out there?”
Yes, dude. Yes.
4. The Glamper
(Please note, this population is only to be found in Alaska from June to August, and is not native) Okay, so camping isn’t for all of us. It tends to be cold and damp and a lot of work. But there are those who want to turn this unique chance to breathe in nature into turning a campsite into a discotheque. Glampers wouldn’t dare drink instant coffee in the woods. Instead, they pack their French press, battery powered grinder for the beans, and (hey, why not?) fresh cream in its own tiny personalized cooler. Whatever happened to roughing it? Leave the disco ball at home and remember what it’s like to hear the birds sing. Instant coffee tastes better out there anyway.
5. The Crabsman
His cheeks are weathered and red, his forehead creased with wrinkles. His house has been tripped out with the latest satellite technology ever since he returned from his latest almost-disastrous but ultimately successful Deadliest Catch appearance. He can spew profanities like, well, a crabsman, and could survive a tsunami, yet if you press him hard enough, he’s still got a romantic bent about life on the sea. Basically, he’s ripped from the Old Man and the Sea, except for the fact that he’s got even better lines than Hemingway.
6. The Eccentric
While not everyone in Alaska proves the rugged stereotype (there are even glampers among the locals) the frontier mentality persists in Alaska, as we tend to attract fiercely independent people. We’ve got the guy who grew up in a yurt in upstate New York and then never quite fit into his office job, as well as the artist who specializes in repurposing old beer cans into modern landscapes and the insanely talented bluegrass musician to make up wacky rhymes about them both. Many places around the world like to say, “Only in [the place they live]” when anything out of the ordinary happens, but no place has more people about which that can safely be said. Because seriously: Only in Alaska.
7. The Seasonal Worker
Ah, the seasonal worker. You see them working as cashiers, waiting tables, leading expeditions, driving tourists from the airport to their hotels, and taking inventory at the gift shops. Whether they’re from a country you’re only vaguely familiar with, they’re California surfer dudes, or retired perpetual travelers, they are endlessly intriguing. A fair amount of seasonal workers will return every year, and then eventually just buy a one-way ticket.
8. The Pilot
We have more licensed pilots per capita than anywhere else in the world, so this is pretty much everyone here. A lack of roads in the backcountry makes that necessary, but so does the fact that the sights here are even more gorgeous from the air. So fuel that seaplane up and head for the skies!
Alaska is a wonderful place to live and travel, and the people that live here are a big part of that. Who are some of your favorite Alaskan characters? Let us know in the comments below.