In 2013, I went through what I like to call my “quarter-life crisis.”
Fresh out of college, I was working a comfortable job in new city. I was sure I had it all figured out. Three years later, I finally realized that working 60-hour weeks in a place far away from any kind of real mountains was no life for me. I decided something seriously needed to change.
I had been to Alaska once before. My aunt lived there, and one summer she invited me up for the trip of a lifetime. We hiked in the Chugach, picked blueberries in the sunshine and even got to spend 7 days sea kayaking in Prince William Sound. I remember thinking, “ I can’t believe people actually get to live AND play in a place like this.” Well, now was my time.
I packed up my tiny Honda Civic and drove all the way from Ohio up to Alaska with no job or plan in mind. As you can probably imagine, I fell in love with Alaska immediately. I spent the gorgeous sunny summer days exploring new peaks and discovering new activities like trail running and mountain biking - things that I never in my wildest dreams could imagine becoming a part of my regular routine.
As much fun as I had that first summer in Alaska, I was still missing two key components to my new life: a job and new friends. That’s where Alaska Huts comes in to this story. As the new person in town, I tend to take on that near-desperation mentality of coming up to people and blurting out something like “HI, I’m Laura and I don’t know anybody here yet, would you want to hang out sometime?” but probably ends up sounding more like “HI WILL YOU PLEASE BE MY FRIEND!?”. Regardless, it eventually worked and I was invited to go to the Alaska Hut’s work weekend with a potential new friend.
At the Alaska Huts work weekend, also known as “Woodstock,” you get to spend a night at Manitoba Cabin for free, help stock the wood for the season, share a delicious home-cooked meal, and dance the night away to a local bluegrass band. I was instantly blown away by the welcoming community at Alaska Huts, and quickly knew I wanted to continue to be a part of this organization.
Let’s skip ahead in the story. It’s a couple months later, and not only does the friend who invited me to Manitoba still hang out with me, but I’ve got my first job in Alaska working for the Alaska Huts Association. Fast forward three years, and I’m now on the board of directors for Alaska Huts and that same friend is my roommate.
Each year, I make sure to take at least one trip down to Manitoba cabin. It still amazes me that with every trip, whether with close friends or complete strangers, Alaska Huts continues to provide me with that unparalleled sense of community. I’ve made new friends, strengthened bonds with old friends, and shared countless laughs over that cozy Manitoba cabin kitchen table. I look forward those moments at Manitoba every year. I strongly encourage anyone out there to find your own community with Alaska Huts. Trust me, it’s worth it!