One Year Later

Posted On April 28, 2012

Filed under Blog Posts

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On a gray, snowy day in April last year, a small, two-prop Piper aircraft with the tail designation “Zero Foxtrot Sierra” touched down on a remote landing strip somewhere in the Alaskan arctic. It discharged a curious passenger, turned south, and flew way. A year later, that passenger is still in Coldfoot. What a ride it’s been since I disembarked from that plane.

It was a year ago this day I arrived in Coldfoot, and somehow, I still find myself here. Looking back on it, I’m actually a bit shocked. I never thought I’d be spending a year in the arctic. Hell, I’ve been here about seven months longer than I thought I would… and I don’t know yet when I’m leaving.

The truck lot, throughout the year:

It’s hard for me to write about this now. I mean, I’ve experienced quite the plethora of un-relatable experiences, met quite the crowd of characters that have ended up in this corner of the world, and tasted the brisk arctic mountain air in all seasons. It’s humbling. It’s elevating. Without knowing it, it’s exactly what I always wanted. I discovered a world for myself that is all but forgotten to the rest of the planet. Coldfoot’s got a quirky charm; it’s a little bent, just like the people here, but it functions, and it steals your heart. I know I can’t go back to the real world without the power of this place keeping a small unfilled hole in my soul for itself.

Shockpoint Mountain, throughout the seasons:

Rather consistently, I’ve spent a year of my life writing about my daily activities on a week by week basis. It’s tiring, really, I’m exhausted from it. My family and friends urged me to start a blog so they could keep in touch with me and keep pace with my life. This blog has lasted a hell of a lot longer than I ever thought it would. Even though I’m not leaving Alaska yet, I’m going to turn the final page on this blog. I’m pretty spent from writing it—the winter was brutal and extremely monotonous at times, and it just doesn’t seem fair to force myself to write about this place anymore. It’s exotic here, or so people tell me, but frankly for me now it’s just my humdrum life. I don’t think I do it any justice trying to add the flair and show for an internet weblog. The novelty of being here has finally worn off.

The pond:

After being here so long, more than anything I feel older. A lot older. I feel worn out now, not only in the body but in the mind; the arctic isn’t a very hospitable place to eke out an existence. I’ll be happy to leave, but hell, I’ll miss it like crazy. Its addicting being here, you learn to love the cold, to revere the darkness, to worship the summer, and to savor the coarseness of it all. It’s not easy being here, but damn, do you feel alive. During the dark times when it was in the negative fifties and sixties, that adrenaline rush you get by standing outside in the murderous winter… it gets into your blood. I don’t expect you can ever shake off that terrifying feeling of realizing you’re so close to death. It’s strange, but I can’t help to like it.

I reckon this may all sound like a goodbye, but I’m not going anywhere, and from time to time I’ll be around. After today I still plan on going about my life the way I’ve always gone about it: waking up, looking for something to do, and trying to find the ability and courage to simply do it. If given the chance to graduate college again and move to the arctic for this long, I’d choose the same for myself without a hesitation. For up here, I have lived bravely, lived strongly, and lived happily; for what else can a person hope to live their life?

Coldfoot Mountain:

2 Responses to “One Year Later”

  1. Diana Contino

    Love the pictures of the passing year and the honesty in your writing. I remember my first full-work-year and thinking that I’ll be slogging through week after week of some very meaningful but most down right monotonous work and questioning…. I have another 30+ years to go? I quickly realized (and it is still true after my 26th year of work) it is about the value you add, the people meet and the experiences you create (in the same job or a variety of jobs) that fuel my heart and soul. My work is not about the day to day tasks; rather life is about attitude, determination, willingness to change and a mind game (ability to convince myself that the task or day isn’t so bad). Sounds like you are doing something so very difficult and seeing the beauty, fun and experience in it. I feel a kindred spirit and complement you on a unique and honest way to reflect on your first full-work-year; your next 30+ are going to be just as special! I look forward to seeing you in June. Until then enjoy the beauty of the far north, the sun, cycling and sharing your insights with the travelers; you will be a bright spot in their visit.

  2. Ros Carter

    Thank you so much Jeremy for your Coldfoot blog. My husband and I visited Coldfoot briefly in February this year when it was covered in snow. I loved it and we had a ball – dogsled ride, aurora viewing in Wiseman and day trip to Atigun Pass (including a half hour snowshoe walk/climb? with Chris). It has been amazing to watch the snow melt and the leaves appear on the trees again via your photos. Thanks again and best wishes.

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