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Walking from Seattle to Alaska

Washington to Alaska: Stopping Off in Anchorage

Suzie Lechtenberg

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Erin and Knik Arm
(Courtesy of Erin McKittrick)
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Bretwood "Hig" Higman: In the worst conditions, there are still two amazing things that happen every day, and one of them is dinner and the other one is sleep. We conk out after a hard day's physical work, but the hard part of every night is getting up in the morning. In the winter that's just really a tough thing. You know, you stick your nose out and it feels like it's getting frost on it - it's bitterly cold out.

Erin McKittrick: Especially since in the winter, it's often still dark at this time.

McKittrick: One of our favorite meals is spaghetti with cheese, lots of butter, milk powder, a little bit of curry powder for spice. But, as it's gotten to be winter -- in minus 20-degree weather -- if you want any of those things, particularly the cheese, to be something other than one huge frozen block, you have to wear it inside your clothes, and that's true for water. You know, we don't have a whole lot of extra fat on us, but if you were to see us outside, we'd have this huge sort of blocky, bulky blob on our fronts because we've stuffed almost everything that we need to keep warm inside our clothing.

McKittrick: So when we started this trip in June, I was in OK shape, but not that great. At the beginning of the trip, we were tired, and we had blisters. Then over the course of our trip, of course, I'm now in better shape than I've ever been in my entire life and probably ever will be. The other day, I was walking through a little park here to go pick up groceries, and they have a bunch of little exercise things in the park. There was this chin-up bar. I've never been able to do chin-ups in my entire life, and I walked over to it, just curious. I could do several, no problem.

Higman: We went through this section that's open coast section, so it's on the Gulf of Alaska. Some people call it the "Lost Coast," it's a very, very remote part of Alaska, it's difficult to access--

McKittrick: --big sand beaches, a lot of surf, like California if you subtract people and add glaciers--

Higman: And in maybe a month and a half, we had 14 storms that were very intense. It would be big, national news if it hit a major city. We were walking along the beach and it was blowing from behind us. It was getting to the point where it was pretty difficult walking even with the wind behind us. And we were running out of anything to hide behind, and we had water all the way around us because we were on a spit. So we ended up camping by digging a hole and putting a blockade of driftwood behind it. Actually, Erin fell asleep earlier than I did, but I lay awake listening to the storm. It was beautiful but scary.

Higman: We do actually sing songs sometimes. We're both horrible singers. I'm worse than Erin; I'm just one of those people that just ain't got no rhythm, but I find it really helpful particularly on open water crossings. They're kind of boring, really, but you have to keep on going, and I find singing to be really useful there: "Hello darkness, my old friend," by Simon and Garfunkel, I think. Both of us now have it popping into our heads, and we're like, "Gosh, we've got to look up the lyrics to that so we can actually sing more than a verse or two."

More stories from our Walking from Seattle to Alaska series

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  • By Chuck Korcz

    From Park Ridge, IL, 02/16/2008

    I am a winter lover and am fascinated by this adventure. It is the type of thing most would not even entertain the thought of, much less its execution. I'm happy to hear of those willing to live the rugged life ala Teddy Roosevelt. Good for you both.

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