Finding peace in the snowy solitude of 4 Alaskan lodges
Posted in , Jun 23, 2015
Last summer, while staying at the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, just outside of Seward, Alaska, I heard the story of Rockwell Kent. At the time, I was a freelance editor and travel writer, thrilled to join a press trip to Alaska, but deeply worried about the insecurities of the freelancer life. (I’ve since joined Guideposts as senior digital editor.)
Maybe it was my own worries and doubt that made me feel so connected to Kent, who also escaped to an Alaskan island near Seward in the summer of 1918. The artist hadn’t been able to make a living from his illustrations, and with his wife determined to divorce him, Kent and his 9-year-old son journeyed from New York to Alaska to get some peace. On my own journey from New York to Alaska, my ears perked up when a lodge staffer described the Kents' 7-month “adventure of the spirit.” The journal and illustrations Kent drew during that odyssey became the popular book, Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska.
The staffer slipped Wilderness into my anxious hands and in the three nights I stayed at the lodge, I devoured every page.
Each night in my private cabin, instead of worrying about the bills piling up from being a freelance editor and travel writer, I imagined Kent and his son braving the Alaskan wild in their own, isolated cabin. In the mornings, I forgot about needing to find a permanent place to live once my press trip was over, and instead got swallowed up in the sheer beauty of the Pedersen Glacier, the green fir trees and snow-capped mountains across an icy lagoon—all of which I could see right outside my cabin window.
During the day, I hiked with a lodge guide and other travelers on a trail to see the Glacier up close. I canoed Aialik Bay, strolled along the beach, spotted American Bald Eagles, brown and black bears and even humpback wales and dolphins!
While the Kents were eating canned beans, canned eggs, rolled oats and cornmeal, I was eating Alaskan salmon and rice and fresh vegetables for dinner in the rustic main lodge, enjoying the company and the stories of the other travelers, and feeling less alone and even more at peace.
But most of all on my epic journey to Alaska, I found rest.
At the beautiful Hotel Aleyeska Resort in Girdwood, I did little else. After an amazing sleep, I awoke only to take the tram up 2,300 feet above sea level to the resort’s award-winning, mountaintop restaurant, Seven Glaciers, which, as you might have guessed, offers panoramic views of 7 glaciers—not to mention the incredible food.
The following morning, I was to attend a yoga session offered in the exercise room on the resort’s top floor. Not wanting to miss a thing the resort had to offer, I pushed myself and went. After 30 minutes, my body couldn’t have been more clear. A little embarrassed, I rolled up my mat, exited quietly out the back door, and returned to my luxurious bed and slept the day away. The resort even graciously gave me a super-late checkout, and I needed it, body and soul.
Down in quirky Homer, Alaska, I took a wildlife cruise on the Danny J to Stillpoint Lodge in Halibut Cove. After a hike to a glacier with a guide, I camped out on the beach and enjoyed lunch over a makeshift fire before the rain snuffed it out. I hiked back a little wet, but dried out in Stillpoint’s intimate sauna before I received the massage of my life from the lodge’s masseuse, Soumaly Inthavong, who put her whole being into that treatment. Then, in my private, tucked-away cabin, I slept.
I took my first floatplane ride to the exclusive and unmatched Winterlake Lodge--the perfect place for a writer to write. In my private cabin (1 of only 5 on the property) overlooking lush green grass, the Finger Lakes and snowy mountains in the distance, I had all the inspiration I needed to write the Great American Novel---but instead, you guessed it, I slept. And I slept well. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was eating the delicious and creative meals in the main lodge by Winterlake’s chef Frank Macias. I kayaked the lake with a Winterlake lodge guide, hiked along the Iditarod dog-sledding trail up Wolverine Mountain, finally got in a yoga class, took a helicopter to the top of the mountain range and spun around like Maria in the Sound of Music.
My employment situation was unsteady, my living situation even more so, but on top of that mountain, I remembered the words of Jesus:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
My economic situation had left me feeling worthless and like a failure. But in that stunning, snowy solitude, God reminded me of my priceless value to Him. And just as He clothed, fed and sheltered me in Alaska, He would do so in New York or wherever He would take me next. Like Kent, my quiet adventure in Alaska proved to be the rest, peace and healing necessary to learn that the only thing I needed an escape from was my worrying.
Guideposts Senior Digital Editor Brooke Obie traveled to Alaska courtesy of the State of Alaska Tourism Office and these are her favorite memories from the trip.
Winterlake Lodge is located just outside of Anchorage, Alaska
To get to Winterlake Lodge, you must travel by floatplane in the summer or skiplane in the winter. I used Rust's Flying Service to get to the remote lodge.
This shot of Winterlake Lodge was taken at 10:00 p.m.! During Alaskan summers, the sun rarely sets.
I stayed in the Iditarod Cabin at Winterlake Lodge. Whether the sun over the lake inspires you to get out and kayak or hike in the wilderness along a part of the Iditarod Dog Sled Trail or stay indoors and write that Great American Novel, Winterlake Lodge is the perfect atmosphere to reconnect to your spiritual and creative side.
In the main lodge at Winterlake, you'll have fine meals, cooking classes, exercise classes and spa treatments.
I toured the Alaskan wild near Winterlake Lodge by Alpine Air helicopter.
On my helicopter tour with Alpine Air, I landed on top of a mountain and got some clarity from God in the stillness.
An aerial view of Winterlake Lodge
I captured this photo of a moose protecting his territory while traveling by helicopter from the Winterlake Lodge
Kayaking, canoeing, hiking and more activities await you at the remote Winterlake Lodge
To get to the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, you'll have to take a breathtaking wildlife cruise from a harbor in Seward, where you'll see whales, dolphins, seals, birds and porpoises, depending on the season.
The views of Alaskan mountain ranges and cliffs from the wildlife cruise
A baby black bear climbs the cliffs outside the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
At the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, you'll have a perfect view of the Pedersen Glacier and can even take a hike through the wilderness to get up close to it.
From my private cabin at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, I could see the Pedersen Glacier in all of its glory.
One of the many adventures you can take at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge is sea kayaking. With the large groups that visit the lodge, you'll never have to row alone.
A brown bear hangs out by a lake at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage Glacier, Alaska
To get to Stillpoint Lodge in Halibut Cove, the Danny J ferry will drop you off right in front of The Saltry, an award-winning restaurant with outdoor dining in front of a large fire pit, heat lamps and a starfish well.
Stillpoint Lodge is nestled away in Halibut Cove outside of Homer, Alaska.
A mama and baby brown bear at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center hang out by the lake.
Though it's a bit warmer than up north, southern Alaska is still plenty ripe with beautiful snow-capped mountains, even in June!
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.