Have you ever created a bucket list?
You know that wild list of things you dream of doing. Skydiving, writing a book, seeing the Northern Lights.
Well thanks to Ugg, I got to check a few items off my list.
To celebrate Ugg’s Butte Boot 15th anniversary, and have the ultimate product testing experience, the company took me and twelve other guys to Alaska for an epic 3-day snow-machining adventure. For the record, yes, it’s snow machining, not mobiling, only out-of-towners call it that, duh.
I’d never been to Alaska, nor snow-machined, but both have been things I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
I’ve heard of the beauty that Alaska holds, and a chance to see the Northern Lights was all it took for me to agree to travel the 12 hours it took to get to Anchorage: capital of the largest state in America, home to Sarah Crazy-Pants Palin, and a restaurant named the Moose’s Tooth.
Touching down in Anchorage, I instantly felt like I was in another country, which makes sense, I suppose, if you consider how it’s actually attached to Canada, and closer to Japan than New York. To top it off I could almost swear I saw Russia from my house.
Slowly but surely our ragtag team of adventure junkies made it from all over the US to a local bar called F Station, where everyone ate some of the freshest fish you’ve ever had, shared stories of how they ended up on the trip, and drank what I can only assume to be damn good beer as my sober month wouldn’t be complete until the end of the trip.
Side note, I fucking loved being sober for the month, and have decided to keep it going until I actually want to drink. So we shall see.
Anyways, getting back to this incredible trip, we hit the hay pretty early on day one as we had to be up early for the beginning of our 200+ mile snow-machining journey into the middle of nowhere, and I say nowhere with the utmost of compliments.
After an early rise, a 2 hour drive out of Anchorage and a quick safety lesson, I found myself on top of a machine that can hit up to 200 MPH.
As we began our adventure on the Iditarod Trail, I quickly became confident that I could handle what was in store, and even more quickly understood why men and women all over love the hum of a motor between their legs. There was something so powerful and primal about flying through the snow.
We eventually made our way to our first pit stop, the Yentan Lodge. It was an adorable little place that housed a family of 8, and also functions as a pit stop for all those who happen to pass it on their journeys. A homemade lunch of chilidogs and chicken noodle soup, a quick pee in the bucket, a friendly goodbye and we were off for the second leg of our 75-mile ride to our final destination Talvista Lodge.
Riding down the Skwenta River I couldn’t help but feel beyond grateful to be trying something new, getting out of my own comfort zone, and being in the beauty of Alaska.
I often preach the importance of these things, and it felt great to be living my truth.
With just 5 miles left to Talvista Lodge our group had to make one final stop to let a lone moose make his way off the path. At this point in winter most of the animals out there are quite hungry, and scaring them with our machines would make them exert themselves in a way that could be deadly, so we simply sat and watched our friend find his way into a patch of trees.
I know it sounds crazy, but moments like that make me feel as if a spirit has come down from heaven to simply say welcome, enjoy, and good luck. It was beautiful.
As the sun began to set at an early 4:30 PM, we made it to Talvista, and were welcomed by a friendly family, and their bevy of animal friends. Lucy, a 7-month-old Polar Bear Lab, was a crowd favorite, and if you’ve never heard of this breed you must look it up now.
We had a delicious homemade dinner, a chill session, and a final giggle fit before the New York half of us called it a night. The other half, who had gotten way more sleep and traveled less, went for a night ride. Part of me really wanted to go, but again, I lived my truth, and knew a good night’s rest would serve me far better for the next two days of our adventure.
By the third morning I was used to waking up, and having it still be dark out at 8:30 AM. We housed another delicious homemade meal, and were quickly off for a day of pure fun, action riding, and speeding around.
Beluga Mountain created the perfect backdrop for our midday stopping point at Onestone Lake. It was here that we had lunch, got to hit some crazy jumps, and feel like 10 year-olds all over again.
It was also at this stopping point that I decided it was time for me to honor yet again another truth, and take off my shirt and just fall back into the snow. It was the closest I could get to a Polar Bear Plunge, so c’est la vie.
After another epic day, a visit to the Shell Hills, and hitting speeds up to 70 MPH, we made our way home to Talvista.
Snuggled up in our Ugg sweats and slippers, the group kicked backed and relaxed around an icy bonfire. One by one we made our way to bed, and slept hard surrounded by nothing, but nature, darkness, and silence. It was a welcomed way to slumber.
Waking up on day four was bittersweet as I knew we had another exciting ride back to civilization, which also meant it was time to go home.
One final delicious homemade meal, hugs goodbye to our gracious hosts Chris and Sarah, and we were back on the trails.
A meadow ride set the tone for our final haul. I couldn’t stop laughing as my Ski-Doo kept hitting bumps that felt like being on a jet ski riding waves.
Before we knew it we were sitting right in front of Denali Mountain, all completely in awe. Mother Nature was definitely on our side as it was a perfectly clear day, and the view of the mountain was one many people never will get to see in their lives.
Playtime, lunch, some final reflections and we took off for our final ride back to Anchorage.
The temperature dropped quickly for our final stretch, and I found myself having yet again another moment of gratefulness for the warm and cozy shearling in my Ugg Butte Boots and the heated handlebars.
We were about 15 minutes away from the parking lot where our whole adventure had started, when we suddenly came across a woman being pulled by her dog sled team. They pulled over so we could pass, and any questions I had had about whether or not those Alaskan malamute dogs loved what they were doing were put to rest as they all looked so pumped to be doing what they had been specially bred to do.
Passing these unique dogs and their owner I couldn’t help but feel something very spiritual come over me. Maybe it was the dog’s connection to the spiritual Malemiuts, an Eskimo group, or maybe it was just being in such an untouched world. Whatever it was, I will never be able to completely put into words the feeling that I often experienced while on this trip.
We proudly made it back to Anchorage all completely injury free and intact as a team. Feeling accomplished and beyond toasty in our Ugg Butte Boots, we had come full circle back to the airport where we would all head home.
Realizing I would see some of these guys again in just a few hours at the launch of Men’s Fashion Week in NYC, and some I will probably never see again, I couldn’t help but feel grateful to Ugg for not only keeping me beyond warm, comfortable and stylish in truly freezing temperatures, but also for giving me this once in a lifetime experience.
While I unfortunately didn’t get to see a glacier due to the warmer temperatures our world is experiencing, or the Aurora Borealis because of cloudy conditions, I did get to see the beauty of Alaska, the comradely bond a group of strangers can hold, and a few other things on my bucket list.