Wonder Lake has a very communal set up. You set up your tents at separate sites, but there is a combined cooking area. The idea is that you can store your food in a secure location, not in your tent. This does several things; it makes sure that bears don’t come around your tent for snacks. It puts all of the food in one place, away from the tents, so if bears do come around they aren’t near people. It also secures the food so that bears aren’t rewarded with food and instead can’t get to it.
As the cooking has a communal aspect it means that you get to meet the other people camping nearby. There was one lady who was a marine researcher and came out for the weekend. There was another girl, Stephanie, who was moving to Antarctica to drive busses in several months. Everyone sits around cooking their food and scoping out what everyone else cooked, then you discuss the weather, after that you get into what people are doing with their lives.
When we run into people the backcountry we generally get a lot of interest in 59in59. You don’t take a tent and a sleeping bag and hike somewhere in a National Park if you don’t love that kind of stuff, so it is really our target audience. We had a good time chatting with everyone, but as it was raining the party ended kind of early and everyone headed back to their tents.
Now fast forward to after we came back a day early from our trip out to Unit 18. Due to the fact that we came back early from out backpacking trip we didn’t really have a place to camp. We were walking to pick one up when we ran into Stephanie. She had a place down the road, but didn’t really wanted to camp there and had found a couple that was willing to let her throw up her tent in their site. It meant that she wasn’t using her current reservation, so we asked if we could use it. Trail Magic!
We agreed to go and get dinner after she got her tent set up. I drove Trevor and Lindsy to a pizza place in Healy and then went back to pick her up. Post camping food often looks more like binge eating. At first we were only going to get one pizza, then we got a second one. Stephanie seems very similar to us. She has worked a couple of years, but is looking for more than just the 9-5 and a salary. She wants to have exciting experiences. She tracked down a job in Antarctica and will be heading there shortly after she gets home, so cool.
One of my favorite things about the National Parks is meeting new and different people. Everyone likes the park for a different reason, but everyone is drawn to this place to recreate and find enjoyment in their life. Often times you find kindred spirits and others who remind you that you are not crazy for giving up a good job.
This trip creates moments of self-doubt. I had a good job, a good apartment, good friends, a good city, good restaurants, a good soccer team, and places to run. Why would I give that all up? I shower about once a week. I live in my parent’s truck. I can’t afford haircuts. I eat whatever is cheapest. It is other people, though, that help remind me that what I’m doing is searching for great. I’m looking for epic. Good just isn’t good enough. I don’t want to tell my kids and grandkids that I was a company man for 50 years and that my job was okay and put food on the table. My grandparents did that so that we could have more. I want to tell my kids and grandkids that we live in a wondrous world full of experiences and adventure. I want them to expand upon what I’ve done.
When it is raining and you are in your sleeping bag and you are cold. You wonder. Have I made some bad life decisions to get me to this point? Should I have just kept my job and slept in the warm bed of regularity? No. Get out there, explore and meet other people. They’ll set you straight.
It also helps to have scenery like this...