To Alder Hell and Back Again: Alderfest 2013

Summer has (kind of) arrived in Alaska, and not a moment too soon. Temperatures soared above 80 degrees last week, and while that may not exactly sound like a heat wave to people who live in areas with normal weather patterns, I’ll remind you that we experienced forty degrees below zero this winter. My friend Hannah’s doctor fiancé told me yesterday that he diagnosed several cases of heat rash this week, which I’m taking as proof that Alaskans have devolved into cold-bloodedness and are not meant to be warmed above about 60 degrees. Still, my friends are loving it: we are jogging on the formerly-Nordic trails, canoeing around the lake rather than skiing across it, and climbing rock instead of ice.

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2013: A year for not fucking around.

My 2013 was off to a bit of a rough start. New Year’s Eves past have seen me serving cocktails to those having way more fun than me, and damned if I wasn’t going to be on the other side of the bar this year.

…I spent the majority of January 1 in the fetal position on my couch, nursing a hangover of epic proportions and shaking a proverbial fist at my whiskey-shooting self. My misery was compounded by the fact that I completely deserved it. I hoped death would take me swiftly.

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Fact: It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.

Whenever I find myself in a sticky or otherwise unpleasant situation, I draw upon the wisdom of Mark Twight, a prolific alpinist and writer who initially rose to fame after his first ascent of “The Reality Bath,” a since-unrepeated ice climb in the Canadian Rockies described by one guidebook author as “so dangerous as to be of little value except to those suicidally inclined.” So, this guy is not fucking around. There are lots of little Twightisms, and when the going gets rough, I use them to remind myself that nothing worth doing comes without a little (or, as the case may be, a lot of) suffering.

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