Distance is reason to worry: Husband’s journey to Denali leaves much for wife to think about

Voices of the Clarion

Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2007

The clock is ticking.

In a few hours my husband, Mark, will head off on the journey of a lifetime: He’s climbing Denali.

I can hardly believe the time is so close. Every time I even think about it, my heart begins racing. Wow. He’s going to climb Denali.

I’m excited for him. I can’t imagine a more invigorating trip for his first major trek up — and down — a mountainside.

I wanted to emphasize the “down” part, since that’s what I’ll be looking forward to the most. Mark will be gone four weeks in all, less if the trip goes well.

It’s been nearly 11 years since we’ve been apart that long. We lived in Montana and were getting married. The wedding was great, but we were looking forward to the honeymoon — two weeks in Alaska.

Mark was working at a gold mine at the time, but the mine was in the process of shutting down. Our trip north was twofold: 1) be tourists, and 2) look for a job. The tourist part worked out great. We went from Juneau to Fairbanks, and we knew that if we could survive 10 days in a camper over the bed of a pickup, the marriage would last forever.

Oh sure, parts of it were quite rocky, like our halibut fishing trip in Homer. Little did I know how little I cared for boats until we hit the open sea. Let’s just say we had to spend an extra day on the Spit before I could get my legs underneath me.

When we got back to Montana, there was a message waiting for Mark on our answering machine: it was a job offer in McGrath.

Two weeks later, Mark was on his way to the Nixon Fork Mine for a month, so he could take two weeks off to come get me, our two dogs, a cat and whatever was left from the massive garage sale I held.

Those four weeks went by fast. I had to wrap up my job, get rid of a lot of our possessions and pack those that were left. It was pretty hectic.

This time will be different.

This time there’s no garage sale, no packing, no moving. I’ll have a lot more time on my hands to worry — and that’s something I’m really good at.

For all the training and safety expertise my husband knows and has, and for all of his common sense, there are some things he cannot control. Those are the things that have me worried.

However, I also know the same is true when he’s not up 20,000 feet above Kenai, and that I can’t control those, either. But it’s like Mark says — albeit to make me feel better — people don’t worry about you unless they love you. I love him a lot.

I do know Mark will have an incredible time on his trip. Such journeys are what unforgettable memories are made of. I also know he has a brave heart. There aren’t many people I know who have the desire to make such a journey. It takes an adventurous soul, and my adventures are limited to nice, flat, stable ground — give or take an earthquake or two.

Despite my fear of heights, Mark said he wants to take me with him, and so he plans to take a photo of me to the summit.

But even if he didn’t, I would still be up on that mountain with him. It’s the only possible place my heart could be.

Dori Lynn Anderson is the managing editor at the Clarion. She can be reached at dorilynn.anderson@peninsulaclarion.com.

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