Portage Pass: A must see


When I was a young girl my summers where spent with dirt stained feet, walking through the cornfields with my first summer job and running out through the grass during a family game of kickball. The Minnesota landscape is flat for as far as the eye can see in my hometown. Upon my recent trip to Alaska I was in awe with the height of the mountain peaks that were interrupted by the flimsy, seemingly transparent clouds.


I stayed in the town of Wasilla during my time in Alaska. The mornings came early with my baby boy not used to the four hour difference from Central Minnesota to the far off land of Alaska. We awoke to a quiet house, playing hide and go seek in the covers until the girls awoke and left for work. We then went upstairs, to brew coffee and for him to start the day pulling oats, sugar and anything else he could find out of the cupboards.

On this Thursday the girls offered to take us down to Whittier, a town that is located two hours south of Anchorage, a drive that took you along the river and through a two and a half mile tunnel. We wanted to hike Portage Pass, a trail that started at sea level and approached 800 feet.


Arriving at the trail head I filled my backpack with a diaper, wipes, water bottle and snacks. Baby G fought his way to stay on the ground, while I tried to buckle him into the backpack. The trail was 800 feet, seemed simple right? The three women I was hiking with were all experience hikers, something that reminded I was not, but also proved to be inspiring.

100 feet: Holy, we made it to 100 feet already that seemed short and easy. I loved the moody, foggy clouds that blanketed the hills and mountains ahead.



200 feet: The Girls suggest that we should make a lot of noise to scare bears. Good luck with the Moose they will come find you anyways. After that tidbit of information I gabbed back and forth with Baby G, making sure to make plenty of noise.


300 feet: Feeling the burn throughout my hips, calf muscles, arms and heart. Cousin Kristi is relaying the story of her Belize trip, I am doing my best to keep up and using all my energy to respond to her.


400 feet: Is it to late to turn around?!


500 feet: One. Step. At. A. Time.


600 feet: Stopping for a breather and fresh water.



700 feet: Almost there, turning around to see stunning views and I am in fear of falling of this cliff because my mouth is hanging wide open, in awe.


800 feet: WE MADE IT. The first words out of my mouth “Wow, this was SO worth it.”




When we reached a flat head I set my pack down and took out Baby G. He immediately climbed over to the rock pile to pick up a rock in each of his hands, shoving it into his mouth to grind his teeth. I had my camera out, turning 365 degrees, snapping photos, thinking in my head that pictures will not do this place justice.







After half and hour the fog lifted and William Sound Bay was open for all eyes to see. It robbed my breath and made my heart thudder with an ever increasing beat that went faster and faster. It was alluring, frightening, fascinating, graceful and wild all at the same time.



The straight, uphill battle of a hike cleared my head and breathed mountain air into my soul and left me with a peaceful, calming feeling. The view gave me a sense of energy, yet begged me to stay for the afternoon and maybe into late evening.



As I began the walk down all I could of think of is that I could not of spent my day and better or more memorable.

Adventuring to the Coast

A while ago your grandma grew up in a town in southern Washington. Longview rests one hour shy of the west coast, nestled on the Columbia River. They lived on Songbird Lane, where the kids took turns milking the cow and climbing the pear, plum and apple trees to pick fruit. Your great grandma was always bustling around the kitchen, canning the fruit and vegetables to fill the cellar.


Years later grandma married a Minnesotan, moved here and has lived ihere ever since. Since I have been a young girl I have frequently gone on trips to the west. Upon the first few trips, I do not remember the smell of the river mills nor the waviness of the Lewis and Clarke Bridge on a windy day. It was sometime later when I began to differentiate one place from the next that I realized how different the west was from inland.


Our trips would begin early at 4 am on Saturday morning. My sisters and I would wander half-awake to the table to eat. We excitedly shoveled in our cereal, but wearily rubbed the sleep from our half open eyelids. We filled our arms with blankets and pillows for the long, seemingly arduous car ride. Once settled into the car, sleep overtook us for hours of the day and when we awoke we ate grapes and cherries and cheered with excitement that we had crossed over into the state of Montana. Not many hours later we groaned from the length of the car ride and asked half a million times if we were almost there.

My very fondest memory of a trip west was one that was accompanied to the coast. Grandma brought us to the beach to meet our cousins for a camping trip. Despite the day being warm, the breeze floating off the coast was cool, causing us running through the sand back to the campsite to dawn on our sweatshirts. The ocean was loud slapping against the shore, pulling sand. The sound crashed through my mind, captivating me and interrupted my thoughts but brought a soothing feeling inside. That weekend we slept out under the stars and when the sun got warm we leaped over waves in the ocean. We roasted hot dogs and gulped fruit by the bowlfuls. We watched the sunset cuddled in blankets with the temperatures dipping, but the sand still warm from the golden rays of sunshine.

From then on my dear son, every trip west I have made, I fill at least one of my days with the Ocean. Each time I go I fall in love all over again with the feel, the sound, the presence, the taste and idea of the Ocean. But most of all I love how I feel when I leave it, the longing to return, but also the comfort of knowing that it will still be there the next time I get there. In time my love, you will find how comforting and beautiful certainty is, in the continuous life of change.


And so the time came that I was bringing you my dear little one on this trip. One of the most beautiful and amazing duties of motherhood is adventuring the world and teaching you all the beauty that belongs to it. The awe from your eyes of the exploration of the world is something I wish I could bottle and take out every so often to enjoy. When I watch you watch the world it is as though everything is new and steals the breath right from every inch of your body. I had a feeling that you would love the coast.


When we arrived you fought to be out of my arms. From the minute I put you down you speedily crawled every direction, as there was so much to see you couldn’t decide where to go first. You plowed your chubby fingers into the sand, which resulted in the sand flying up into the air. You giggled and squealed with delight and the boogers that fell from your nose were soon littered with sand displaying a sand mustache.


Just as in so many other instances, your small little being taught me that sometimes the most important and best part of your day is to be in awe over the absolute beauty of nature. As the day waned I picked you up and for a few precious moments as I told you of the power of the ocean and the little that I know about it, my mind wanders back to the time I was first brought here. And with all of my heart I hope that your darling little soul was just as captivated as my youthful soul was.