Hiking Naturally in Alaska (Without Peak Bagging)


This past week I hiked in Denali National Park but not on the actual highest peak in North America.  

And that’s OK.

You see, Denali is a technical climb, which requires about three weeks and $10,000. I don’t have either of those to spare. But I did want an adventure with my husband and oldest daughter Anna while I was in the neck of the woods before I spoke at the Eating Recovery Center Symposium in Anchorage. We enlisted the help of Alaska Railroad, booked the Deluxe Alaska Sampler and added an extra few days in Denali and Anchorage for adventures.

In Denali, we hit the trails from the visitor’s center… as many as my legs could take – Horseshoe Lake, and parts of the Healy Overlook and Triple Lakes trails. We stayed on mostly lower paths because the smoke from several fires up above was denser in higher elevations.


 Am I disappointed that I didn’t bag another peak?  No way.

The most important thing to me is that hiking and being active comes naturally to me.  And while I’m sure I have a number of other epic hiking achievements beyond my three treks up Kilimanjaro down the road (Vermont’s Long Trail, Machu Picchu, Tour Du Mont Blanc and more are on my life list) this vacation was about enjoying Alaskan wilderness with my husband and oldest daughter.


 This whole week has been a series of adventures (curated by Alaska Railroad) from riding on the back of a dog sled with the driver, hiking alongside moose, spending all day on the ocean spotting orcas, humpback whales, otters and sea lions, to reaching out and touching a glacier from an inflatable raft. On our first day, we took a 24-mile bike ride – something I was terrified to do until I did it.


Sometimes living life and exploring is adventurous enough. You don’t have to climb to the top of the highest mountain to feel fully present and joyful.

These excursions on this Alaska trip — from day hikes to bike riding to boat cruises — are things that when I was deep into binging that I wouldn’t leave the house for. That I would avoid at all costs. I would have been afraid I wouldn’t fit in or I’d make a fool of myself getting into a boat or being out of breath when I came upon another hiker.

But I’ve found on my journey to wellness, the more adventurous I am, the more I’m open to these kind of experiences. Of truly living and opening my eyes and mind to being the adventurer I dream to be. That doesn’t have to happen at the top of the highest mountains it can be anywhere.

Happy Trails!


Kara WhitelyComment