Skiing Across Alaska: Swiss Hospitality

Apr 3, 2011
Outside Magazine

To raise awareness about first responders diagnosed with PTSD, guest blogger Michael Ferrara plans to ski 900 miles across Alaska, south to north, from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean, with his dog Lhotse trotting beside him. To learn more about Ferrara's quest, read The Man Who Saw Too Much and check out his web site,

Well, today was a glorious day.  We woke rested and ready for adventure. The Roadhouse didn't have room for us so we had to move. We spent the morning finding someone who would take us in. We found the Swiss Alaska Inn. It turned out to be a great find. We dragged everything across town, it actually felt good to be back in the harness.

Here's the problem, the weather report is for 48 degrees and rain on Monday. The way north of here is a bit problematic. The river will probably be open. There is a significant train tressel to manage, and if the weather is correct we could lose our snow along the track deep in the bush.

Add to this the fact that I can not get the stove fixed in Talkeetna. There is not much available in winter. It would be foolish to head into the bush without a stove.

Now to get back to the highway north means back tracking 14 miles. That's a full day for us, and then we're in the middle of nowhere—but at least not in the bush.

So then we decided to catch the train north, thinking we would get off once we got on the other side of the tressel and the rivers. We thought we would ride north until we found good snow, but I just found out the train runs once a week and that was today.

I stopped in to see about staying another night. The Swiss man who owns the inn heard of my journey and—being Swiss—thought skiing across Alaska was a great idea. He made a few calls while cutting up a couple of beautiful Pike his son-in-law just caught. 

It turns out if I can get across the Susitna I can traverse cross country back to the hightway. One of the people he called had made it across a few days ago at one specific spot.

So Lhotse and I will get up early and scout the crossing. It would solve our route problems. It's that or start looking for a job here. I like these Swiss and I could clean rooms or wait tables.

Lhotse loves Talkeetna. Last night we're walking down Main St. and a woman yells, "Is that Lhotse?".  I said, "Yes, do you know Lhotse?"  She said no but she had gotten an email that we were coming and wanted to meet him. To the best of my knowledge she never asked my name.

As we walk around town, the ladies all come out from back yards and alleyways to greet him.  He's also got about three girl dogs who follow him around towwn. Brad Pitt I tell you.

If all goes well we will be out of touch for several days. Hopefully, we'll make it across the river and on to the north. 

--Michael Ferrara

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