The Powder Highway Road Trip – Dispatch #7 – Haines, Alaska

Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman
Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman

Words: Bruce J. Bauer

A cold, dark winter subsides as the days grow longer and the sun’s rays intensify. The inevitable change in seasons triggers an innate response in all living creatures—bears awake from hibernation, birds take flight, and fish swim upstream. Migration is a matter of survival for certain animal species while select humans prefer to make it a way of life.

When the snow melts in the Lower 48, passionate skiers and snowboarders travel northward in search of cold, deep snow. Instinct and passion supersede rational thoughts. I know this because, as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, I have followed my own migration for 32 years. My livelihood depends on spontaneous decisions based on intuition and ever-changing conditions. Chasing large schools of fish into the Bering Sea during a violent Pacific storm challenges conventional wisdom, but I have always believed in chasing my dreams.

Skier Hayden Price in Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman
Skier Hayden Price in Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman

Similarly I recognize and admire the dedication amongst the team of skiers and snowboarders that have been chasing their dreams along the Powder Highway this winter.

For the past two months, I have following this nomadic tribe of mountain people, recognizing familiar faces likes Reggie and Zach Crist along with Wyatt and Yancy Caldwell as well as Lynsey Dyer, Lexi Dupont, Jamey Parks, Leo Ahrens, Colter Hinchcliff. There are even a few new names I have yet to meet including Jacqui Edgerly, Hayden Price, and Sam Cohen. It seems that their travel plans and destinations are always changing, but as the season progresses I know they will eventually migrate northward to Haines, the frontier of Alaska heli-skiing where the road ends and the ocean and the mountains collide.

Sam Cohen in Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman
Sam Cohen in Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman

Some team members arrive by airplane while others travel by ferry, car, and even a motorcycle.  One by one, each person finds his or her  way up the Funny Farm driveway, reunited at our beautiful three-story lodge that everyone affectionately calls home.

Erradic pieces from a complicated and diverse puzzle, we are all part of the same clan, a family that looks after one another. This was made clear to me four years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer and Reggie Crist organized a benefit to raise money for my treatments. Eddie Bauer matched the proceeds raised on that night.

Our tribe is many, including Nick and Kami Trimble, owners of the Fort Seward Lodge, along with the entire SEABA guide staff lead by Scott Sundberg. Collectively we work together to preserve and strengthen the annual migration knowing full well that as one season ends another begins.

Yancy Caldwell in Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman
Yancy Caldwell in Haines, Alaska; Photograph by Will Wissman

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