The clouds parted for just a moment in the same manner that one would imagine the Red sea did for Moses, letting the sun shine down on the Backcountry lodge as we made the final turn along the lone Denali park road.

The moment passed quickly, bringing a steady downpour of rain as the night enveloped the land. The pitter patter sound from outside blends in perfectly as the fire crackles and I turn another page of my book. I melt into a soft leather couch, and pull the blanket a little closer to my chin.

I’m spent, physically and emotionally. I listen to the rain not only for comfort, but for guidance about how to spend my time here. The simple words “take it easy” conjure out of the rising smoke from the smoldering fire. I’ll try and do just that……

Moose creek babbles as I wander along the banks. No moose are seen, only fish moving lazily upstream, as well as a few hearty touristy gold panners. I wish them luck.

The night before I find a book about Fannie Quigley, and learn that her homestead is only a few hundred yards beyond our lodge. I’m always fascinated by early pioneers of our country, and she is one of the bravest and toughest souls I’ve learned about yet. I close my eyes and try to imagine her life out here over 100 years ago.

“She used mine shafts as a beer fridge and shot bears to get lard for pie crusts.

Fashioned somewhat after a Native American sweat lodge are large barreled saunas. I stoke the one called fireweed and enter to get out of the rain and try to connect to the Great Mother spirit. Sweat pours from my pores and clears my head of any cobwebs hanging on in the recesses of my brain.

So wild is this place that its very nature is seeping into my own skin, hardening the outline of my features into a resiliency not before seen.

I resolve to venture out further into the wilderness, inclement weather be damned. If Fannie can do it, then by God so can I.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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