Skiing Across Alaska: I Love Alaska

Apr 15, 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,


Five below zero, wind gusting to 40, but no bugs. I Love Alaska!

Traveling now through the mountains and in the park, the beauty surrounds you. Each camp looks back at the rivers, valleys, passes crossed through the day. The light reflecting off the snow makes everything so brilliant. At night the northern lights are spectacular. The vastness of the land and the open spaces makes it quickly apparent why certain people are so attracted to this place. Everywhere I go, the people are open and genuine.

Through the day as we travel I have time to think and process. Even when we travel on the snowmachine path next to the road, there is probably less than a dozen cars an hour. I find each day I have less and less interest in dwelling on the PTSD part of the trip. As two years ago when I could see only darkness and no beauty, I now see only beauty. Perhaps it's the simplicity of the day or the joy I see in Lhotse. Or perhaps this is the ultimate EMDR session. There is a joy to daily physical exertion. I feel like a man of 56 again.

The challenges of the day are almost like a game, like the problem solving exercises I put Lhotse through to sharpen his mind and build his confidence. Crossing the river, staying dry and warm, getting the appropriate nutrition and hydration are the immediate. And most important is getting a fat burning workout, slimming my arms, inner thighs and problem areas.

Lhotse reminded me today that this is not a religous pilgrimage. It started as a healing trip for me and him. If it helps some people, great, but first it needs to help me and repay his support.

Well, enough pontificating. The roadsides have become dry since crossing the Nenana. I had to pull the sled for over a mile on dry road. But it's part of the game. Time of my life. Next blog I'll cover making tuna noodle casserole in a motel coffee pot and laundry tips when you only have one set of clothes.

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--Michael Ferrara

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