The middle of August can be a challenging time of year as a multi-day wilderness guide. Burnt out from late nights, long days, little sleep, hard work, miles of driving, and back to back trips for most of the summer. Some call this "angry august" and at times I know why. Guiding begins the moment of opening your eyes and lasts until the moment you close them. Even in sleep you are vaguely aware of every noise in camp, ready to jump whenever you are needed. It is exhausting and it is draining.
I was once told, "A good guide is never cold, tired or hungry." I might add, grumpy, sad or bored. Of course you are these things at times, but a good guide would never let it show. It's not fair to the people that have been dreaming about this destination for months, years, or a lifetime. They deserve an experience that is hopefully beyond what they had dreamed of. They deserve to see this amazing place with the thrill and excitement that I felt when I first traveled across the state. With wonder, awe and joy that brought me to tears of gratitude.
I know all of this, but I miss my life. I miss having my own schedule, exploring and enjoying nature in my own way. I miss my boyfriend, my family, my friends, and my dog. I miss silence.
But I can still find wonder, awe, joy and excitement. It is impossible to not find beauty and to feel all of those emotions around almost every turn in Alaska. And although my mind wants to wander to September, to when I will return to the freedom of exploring my life my way, I must remember that this is my life as well. A life that I am very grateful for.
I must stay present and enjoy the final moments of summer. When the last of the wildflowers cling to their stems before they turn to seed and dance away in the crisp wind. To be amazed by the movement of the wild creatures who are gorging on the abundance of food before the harsh winter arrives. To be impressed by the salmon who fight their way up river to spawn with their final moments of life. To savor the sweet berries as they roll in my fingers when picked and burst in my mouth when bitten. To appreciate the twittering sounds of the birds before they fly away to warmer places for the dark months.
This place is filled with beauty everywhere, on an epic scale. I get to see the amazement of this beauty in the faces of those I guide. I get to hear the excitement of these new experiences in their voices and see the joy in their eyes. When I focus on that I get to feel those things as well.
When I stay present in each moment of each amazing day I realize how much surrounds me that I am grateful for and I experience this gorgeous place with the wonder and joy of the first time, again and again. I am happy.