Athens, OH 29 August 2018 –
Before returning to Athens for my senior year of mechanical engineering, I took a two-week solo trip in Alaska! This was a perfect way for me to relax after a busy summer internship and mentally prepare for the upcoming school semester.
After flying into Anchorage, I picked up a rental car and started the adventure! I spent one week exploring the Kenai Peninsula. I checked out Seward, the Homer Spit, and Whittier. After driving back though Anchorage, I went north to Denali, Fairbanks, Glenallen, and Glacier View. My typical routine for the day was to hike in the morning and visit the local activities in the evening.
By far, Alaska has the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The expansive tundra, wildflowers, glacier-fed rivers, mountains, and wildlife were constantly in my view. My favorite day was when I took a bus through Denali National Park and camped at the farthest campground named Wonder Lake. The clouds had moved away by early morning and made for a perfectly clear view of Denali. Coupled with the warm sun, few visitors, and no mosquitoes, I certainly agreed with the ranger that I had come on the best day of the summer. To top it off, blueberry season was in full swing. I easily picked multiple handfuls.
The two weeks went by quickly but were packed with memories. I drove 1800 miles, saw grizzly bears and moose, walked on top of glaciers, went swimming in hot springs, and made numerous friends. My hiking record ended at 65 miles with 12,000 feet elevation gain.
This was truly a perfect trip (albeit one flat tire) that gave me time to reflect on my summer experience and plan goals for my senior year. Taking deliberate time to think about my experiences has been something I started doing since I started college. Reflection allows me to understand my strengths and weaknesses, appreciate my new relationships and opportunities, and most importantly figure out where I want to end up after graduation. I think learning about yourself is just as important as learning the material taught in school.
I am extremely eager to return to Alaska and continue exploring. After all, only 20% of The Last Frontier is accessible by road!