The day started out with some unexpected excitement. I woke up in my van in a large parking lot next to the ocean in Whitter, Alaska. I started working and my director asked me to call him so he could walk me through some complex statistics and charts on a website. When I’m using my cell phone to tether to internet I can’t call anyone and if they call me the connection is lost. My cell phone can either function as a phone or internet hopspot but it can’t be both at the same time.

I drove into Whittier and searched for wifi unsuccessfully for about 30 minutes, then finally paid $4.99 for an hour of internet and made my phone call. I felt relieved to have been close to wifi when I needed it. I always try to be extra responsive when travelling in remote areas. My responsiveness and commitment to my job are my number one priority while travelling. This is what makes this lifestyle work over the long term. I would hate to inconvenience my co-workers by being slow to respond and then be told by my employer that I need to make my way back home and be more serious about my professional commitments.

P1400880 (Medium)I worked for several hours and started the Portage Pass hike around noon. The first part of the hike was on a wide trail which was easy and touristy. All the people I met on the hike were just out for the afternoon from the cruise ship. I climbed to the top of the pass and enjoyed a nice view of Portage Glacier from afar. Apparently this is as far as the cruisers go, because from here down to Portage Lake the trail became a faint path which was sometimes hard to follow and I got sidetracked a couple times. At one point I hiked along the side of a small gorge on a game trail which eventually disappeared, then I had to climb all the way back up the gorge.

P1400843 (Medium)Once I was sure I was finally on the right path due to the regular presence of cairns, I saw huge moose tracks. I almost turned around at that point. I hadn’t seen anyone since the pass and was feeling nervous about the wild nature of the trail. It was hard to follow and there were no signs to provide reassurance. I’ve been trying to keep my solo adventures gentle, and I questioned myself if this was getting a little too adventurous. I felt like I was on the edge of my mental and emotional comfort zones, but probably not in physical danger so I pressed on. I called out “hello” at least every couple minutes to alert the animals of my arrival. I imagined a moose ready to charge around every brushy corner.

P1400862 (Medium)I had to talk myself through the entire descent to the lake, reminding myself how much I wanted to reach the lake, how close it was, and how small the probability was of seeing an animal. I felt victorious when I reached the gray sand of the lake shore and stood at water level near small and large floating ice burgs. I got to see car-sized chunks of ice calve from Portage Glacier and fall into the lake with a big splash. For the hike back out, I went as quickly as possible to minimize the time I would feel nervous. I hiked at high speed all the way back up to the pass and probably set a new speed record for myself.

It’s up to each of us to decide what our own personal Everest is and to engage fully with that challenge. That day, it was an easy 5 mile hike to see a beautiful lakeside glacier.

Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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