When you choose to spend a summer in Alaska, you know you’re in for something special. America’s largest state is home to unforgettable experiences (northern lights, anyone?), gorgeous landscapes (hello Mt. McKinley!), and mouthwatering cuisine (more crab than I can ever eat? I take that as a challenge!). But before you run off into the woods for three months of wild bliss, take our advice and follow these four simple rules during your summer in Alaska:
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We’re talking fish, of course. If you don’t already know how to fly fish, Alaskan rivers are a beautiful place to learn. There’s nothing quite like standing in the middle of a river, whisking your rod to and fro, then catching a gorgeous salmon for dinner. But before you can fry that little sucker in butter, you have to prepare him. And nothing makes you feel more outdoorsy than gutting a fish. Your fishing partner can show you how, and if not, simply cut open the belly and cut out all the yucky stuff. You can wash your hands of the slime, but you’ll never want to wash off the pride that comes with it.
In Alaska, no regular rubber boots will do. Locals wear X-traTuf Boots, which are long-lasting unisex neoprene boots that will survive anything from outrunning a moose (not recommended – those bulls are fast!) to catching crab off an ice-coated vessel. Living in Alaska means experiencing life to the extreme, and these “Alaska slippers” will help you feel right at home.
Test the Ice Before You Step
Alaska is full of breathtaking glaciers, and many are easy to visit. If you ever get the chance to walk across an ice field, however, be cautious of your terrain. Glaciers are more than just huge ice cubes sliding down the mountain. They are more like your artistic older sister, treacherously laced with seeming depths that nobody can see. Glaciers often have water running beneath them, which thaws the bottom layers of the ice. This eventually causes more melting from the bottom up, which a hiker cannot see. Bring a hiking stick with you and be sure to test the terrain before you dance across the ice, or it could be your last waltz.
There are many places that need a great soundtrack, but Alaska is not one of them. To truly immerse yourself in experiencing The Last Frontier, take those earbuds out and (dare we say it?) leave your phone at home. As appropriate as Tom Petty or Eddie Vedder can be for a long walk in the wildflowers under grey skies, the music of nature will do better at calming your heart. And if you’re lucky, you will hear the bald eagles as you see them soar above your head. If you get tired of the quiet, Alaskans also make great conversationalists.
Whether you choose to chat or choose to listen, make sure you’re fully immersed in what’s going on around you. Alaska is a rare and beautiful place, and we don’t want you to miss a thing. Did we miss your favorite local tip? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.