Hardcore Alaska Soft: Spring Edition

In this July 2013 photo, people hike near the top of Mount Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Take a minute from your ultra-marathon training and pull up a luxury wilderness recliner with double-padded armrests—suspended air-rocking technology allows smooth, gentle swinging on any surface.


It’s springtime in Alaska. Time to kick butt and take names, although I probably won’t remember yours, thank you very much legal retail cannabis. Whatever — somebody needs to work on closing the state’s budgetary gap.

Let me break it down for you like the CORE 10-person Instant Cabin I recently impulse bought at Costco: I shred more gnar Dutch-ovening my sleeping bag than you’ll rip in an entire lifetime. All day — and any night I don’t pass out watching “Ice Road Truckers” — I’m a kombucha-sipping, power-streaming, Folk Fest-hoodie-and-fleece-pants-wearing hammock enthusiast with a bottomless appetite for Cadbury Crème Eggs.

That’s right. I’m hardcore Alaska soft. And when spring comes to the Last Frontier, I hit it 24/7/361 (I generally take an extra long weekend for Seward Day). Once I get going, look out — especially if you don’t want to get spattered with Cadbury Crème Egg goo.

Dig my gear: ultra-light, ultra-compact, waterproof, windproof, stain-resistant, post-consumer recycled and, of course, certified non-GMO. I spent all winter outfitting myself for spring, the same way I’ll spend all spring outfitting myself for summer, and all summer outfitting myself for winter (I don’t outfit myself for fall; I pretty much spend those months in a nachos-induced stupor). My system involves a mind-boggling combination of Cabela’s, L.L. Bean (which is like Cabela’s, only for East Coast liberals), Evo, eBay, ski swaps, pawn shops, Craigslist, Juneau-Buy-Sell-Trade and every pile of junk I see around town marked “free.” I’ll tell you, bro-hann (Sebastian Bach), gear makes all the difference, especially considering the sticky situations I routinely get myself into — especially when hot queso is involved.

My Tech-wick base-layer tech-wicks so effectively, I risk dehydration whenever I wear it. That’s why I drink so much. And usually forego underpants.

In the winter, I live for powder days. You know, those bluebird mornings after a fresh snowfall? Man, I’ll spend hours in the white room (by which I mean eating French toast heaped with confectioners sugar). But come April it’s time to shift gears and take out the mountain bikes. They’re blocking the portable deep fryer.

Of course, don’t get me wrong. Even though the chairlifts stopped running, I’ve still been enjoying some dope spring skiing in my own secret stashes of corn snow.

Wait. Did I say “skiing”? I’m sorry, I meant “peeing.” I’ve been enjoying some dope spring peeing in my own secret stashes of corn snow. Yeah, I’m getting really good at writing my name — I can dot the “i” in “Kirsch” and everything. Talk about carving sick lines.


You want to know how hardcore I am?

I brush my teeth with devil’s club; I wipe with skunk cabbage. Bears wear bells to scare ME off, although, those don’t really work. By the way, neither do me-proof trashcans (if I want to eat your garbage, I’m going to eat your garbage). 907 is the PIN for all my accounts, or at least it would be, if PINs didn’t have a five-character minimum, so I usually go with my fall-back, “spawntilyoudie49.” I put Ranch on everything, even Cool Ranch Doritos. I snort termination dust. I’ve seen every episode of every Alaska-based reality series ever made, from “Buying Alaska” to “Flying Wild Alaska;” “Ax Men” to “Alaska Wing Men;” plus, of course, “Alaska State Troopers” and “Coast Guard Alaska,” on the Weather Channel. Speaking of which, I absolutely love that other Weather Channel show, “Alaska Forecast.” Man, I can watch that one for hours. I just wish the special effects weren’t so budget.

But you know, it’s hard work taking it this easy. Even someone as hardcore Alaska soft as me can’t screen the call of the wild forever. Particularly in springtime, on those first windless, sun-drenched days, I’ll take my kayak, which I’ve got strapped to my roof from a similar day last spring and still haven’t removed, and head north toward any one of several spectacular put-ins.

But I won’t make it. Days like that tend to spell a shorter wait at the Thai restaurant out by the ferry terminal. And there’s a bar upstairs and that waffle place next door, too, and let’s not forget about the burger joint across the way with the killer milkshakes.

Shoot, I may have to bivvy right there in the parking lot. A few nights, maybe.

Oh, man. I can’t wait to get horizontal.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.


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