Interviewee: Waclawski Family
Place: On the top of Mt. Healy
It was a beautiful day for a challenging climb of the AGLP family’s favorite Mt. Healy in Denali, Alaska. After welcoming our fellow campers to the top of the mountain with tunnels, spirit fingers and celebratory hugs, Michelle Waclawski and her son, Denver, shared one last look of the neighboring hills before beginning their descent. Michelle and Denver were finishing their first peak on their summer bucket list of hikes which they considered to be ‘warm up’.
This is just one of the many family adventures that have become the norm for the Waclawski family since moving to Alaska 7 years ago from Gaylord, Michigan. “Nothing. We miss absolutely nothing. It’s just too awesome here,” Michelle said when asked if they ever miss the Great Lake State. She and her husband live in Homer, Alaska with their 16 year old daughter and 14 year old son. During these summer months, they are not taking the sunshine for granted after 4 months of Auroras, blizzards, and dark days. Denver and his mom are spending quality time tackling some of the best mountains and trails in the state. When they are not hiking mountain trails, the Waclawskis go mountain biking, running, rafting and backpacking all over the sate of Alaska.
When the sun doesn’t come up during the winter, the kids stay busy with normal school sports like basketball and skiing. Michelle says that this was the hardest part of adjusting to their new home. “You have to take care of yourself,” said Michelle, “I even have a sun lamp on my desk that I ‘bask’ in once a day.” In our Michigan imaginations, we picture the worst part of Alaskan winters to be the 40 feet of snow burying your house or the negative temperatures that will freeze the oceans solid. This past winter, Michigan experienced a very realistic winter similar to that of our wildest imaginations. In fact, living in a coastal town like Homer, the temperatures are generally neutral. This year, their big scary winter ranged between 40 and 50 degrees. “Yeah,” Denver joked, “you guys stole all our weather!”
The Waclawski family had many adventures in the last 7 years beginning in the kids’ when the kids were younger, climbing a 33 mile trail at age 8 and 10 carrying their own packs the whole way. When asked, Michelle contemplated their worst experience so far. She mentioned being on a trail and crossing paths with a giant brown bear. “It’s not exactly the happiest walking with a brown bear the whole way.”
Michelle Waclawski has a blog containing their Alaskan adventures from the last 7 years. The link to her blog can be found on our website.
Delaney Hurst, Korinne Winnie