It doesn’t feel like you’re in America when you get to Alaska. The U.S. state located northwest of North America is said to have an estimated 100,000 glaciers ranging from tiny cirque glaciers to massive valley glaciers. Sara Birofka was a doe-eyed traveler on her first adult adventure with her friends when she went to Alaska.
Most tourists arrive in Skagway via cruise ship rather than flying. Skagway is in the heart of Alaska’s coast; it’s filled with ocean vistas, mountain peaks, boreal forests, lakes, waterfalls, and even more.
Sara said her time in Skagway, Alaska opened her eyes to the world’s depth of beauty and would go back when she gets a chance. During her time in Alaska, Sara hiked glaciers, went whale watching, and hiked on the Klondike Gold Rush trails with proper tour guides leading the way.
Sara and her friends took a cruise line to Alaska, where they could experience the enormity of its beauty and its difference in culture. When asked about the Alaskan culture, Sara didn’t have much to say other than the fact that she couldn’t get to locations that were further inland, away from the ports. She said that most of the people in Alaska were either tourists or people from worldwide working on Visas or working seasonal jobs.
Sara did, however, call out the freshness of the seafood, claiming that she had never had such fresh fish before her visit in 2019. She honed in on the seemingly, never-ending supply of salmon in almost a fascination, “There was salmon jerky, salmon in a can like tuna fish would be, salmon jams.”
During her glacier hike, Sara’s tour guides amplified the issue of climate change, telling them that the glaciers were melting at a rapid rate due to global warming. When reflecting on her hike, Sara noted, “I think when we hear glacier, we think titanic and huge pieces of ice and snow in the water. However, it was more like a giant mountain covered in the snow; that’s what it seemed like.” Learning about how glaciers are and how they melt for decades was sure to resonate. She said it helped her see the earth a bit differently.
image of a melting glacier
However, Sara was most grateful for her time spent whale watching. She explained how interesting it was seeing various tour groups compete to find whales, “The whale watching is so interesting because its many different tours all trying to find whales, so when a pod of whales is spotted, you have five tour boats following the whales.” She was lucky enough to have gotten to see not only Humpback Whales but also Orcas. Sara noted that you never truly realize how massive they are and labeled the experience truly beautiful.
Sara sensed the enormity o the world once again when she hiked along the Klondike Gold Rush trails. During her hike, she noted not only beautiful but breathtaking views. Once again, she recalled seeing things from a different perspective, talking about when she saw bear markings on a tree she and her group had hiked past, “You don’t realize how large these animals are until you try even to reach their marking and don’t come close to reaching it.”
When I asked Sara if there was anything she would do differently, she said she would like to have learned more about the state’s history and wished she could spend more time enjoying and embracing more if not all of what Alaska had to offer her. When she goes back, Sara plans to experience Alaska in a whole new way; by seeing and doing differently than she did on her first visit.
Part of the along the Chilkoot Trail
Although her time in Alaska was short, Sara still talks about what she describes as a life-changing experience. After all, her trip was back in 2019, and she still talks about it often and wholeheartedly. She encouraged me and whoever this article reached to see the glaciers before it’s too late.