Mandy’s Alaskan Adventure

I want to say a massive thank you for the financial support you have offered me to enable me to take on a life long challenge of visiting Alaska and undertaking lots of adventurous activities. I was able to participate in all the activities, despite suffering from a bad cold which I got from the plane journey as my immune system is poor. We flew into Anchorage and picked up our camper van, and within 45 minutes into the journey came across a Black Bear who tumbled out of the woods. This was very exciting for us all, but also raised our awareness to the wilderness of the country we had entered.

The first campsite we stayed in was Eklutna Lake. This lake was glacial and stunning. Although cycling was not one of the challenges I had identified, my husband is a keen cyclist, so we all hired bikes and rode 25 miles around the lake. It was stunning, but we had to stay together as it was a mountain bike track and there was bear dropping everywhere!

We then travelled over a stunning road in the camper van called Hatchers Pass, this was an adventure in itself in the camper van as the road was very narrow. We needed to break the journey up, so we stayed in a small camp site in a place called Willow, and then travelled to Talkeetna. Talkeetna was stunning, and we decided to take a train into the outback. On the train we met lots of locals, who knew we were hiking so insisted on providing us with Bear Spray for our safety. We took the train and then conducted an 8 mile hike, where were we lucky to see Bald Eagles and an abundance of red salmon.

It was then time to travel into the Denali National Park. This area was absolutely stunning. Here we visited the famous Husky Homestead, that my son was desperate to do. He loved this day. We also conducted some seriously steep hikes, the first being the Mount Healy Overlook Trail which has an elevation of around 3000 feet. Also the Denali Alpine Trail; on this hike we spotted Caribou and Moose.

The Denali Park was beautiful, so we stayed there for three days.

The next long journey was to Valdez, and I think this was my favourite area as it had both the sea and glaciers. This is where we completed most of our challenges.

Here we saw the most beautiful Columbia Glacier and were able to watch glacier caving, which was spectacular.

I was able to achieve a full day canoeing, which was around the icebergs of Valdez glacier. This was an amazing experience. However a little bit nerve wracking as two days prior to our trip two Germans and an Austrian male had lost their lives canoeing around the same glacier

We went on an amazing boat journey, called the Lu Lu Belle wildlife cruise, where we got so close to so much wild life. We could actually smell the whales. We saw dolphins, sea lions, seals, puffins, sea otters and a killer whale. It was amazing to see them all in their natural habitat.

Our plan was to then take a ferry with our camper van over to Seward in the Kenai National Park . Unfortunately there was a ferry strike (which meant a 400 mile drive) so we stayed in Valdez for a further three days. We decided to make the most of our stay and here we also did White Water Rafting. I absolutely loved this, it was hilarious, but also I was worried about my son who is 12, as he nearly fell in the rapids on two occasions.

The glacier hiking was hard to achieve, as the glaciers were melting and the tour companies felt there were considerable risks walking on the ice in, so we did the next best thing, and took a 5 mile hike alongside the side of Valdez Glacier. This had its risks as it was crashing all the time, but we were careful not to get too close to the edge.

Our extended period in Valdez, was over, and if I ever get the chance to visit Alaska again this is where I will come back to. The strike was over and we took our ferry over to Whittier. On our way home we were able to visit a Conservation Project for injured animals. This was amazing and very educational.

Our journey in Alaska was over, we loved our holiday and adventures in the Last Frontier. I was amazed at what I was able to achieve and was able to forgot the aches and pains I have to endure on a day to day basis .

We flew back via Iceland, and my husband wanted to climb one last mountain, this was the Steinn on Mt Esja just outside of Reykjavik – a 2500 ft climb from sea level. This was undertaken in adverse weather conditions with 45 mile mile wind speed. It took 4 hours, and our son couldn’t quite make it, and had to sit in a cove with some Americans for half an hour. However we were not to be defeated and made it to the top .

All I can say is a massive thank you, and this trip gave me three weeks away where I could forgot about having cancer and be me.

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