Finding My Inner Wilderness Woman

There’s so much that you don’t know about a place until you’ve lived there during different seasons. And there’s even more that you don’t know about yourself until you consciously choose to make yourself uncomfortable for any length of time.

winter running in Alaska with Nellie
Sun on a run! You can’t help but smile when you see it on a sub-zero day.

Tomorrow is winter solstice, putting us smack dab in the primordial madness of our discomfort zones. It will be the shortest night of our lives. But so what. Winter in Alaska isn’t as miserable as I used to think it might be.

Through these dark, cold days of the season, I’m having a blast getting to know my inner wilderness woman. A fun little event in Talkeetna we recently attended reminded me that yeah, even born-and-raised L.A. girls like me have some Alaska grit deep down inside, if we just know where, and how, to look for it.

A Cold Alaska Winter Is Not A Miserable Experience (if you learn to adapt)

When I used to picture cold climate winters, I envisioned a sad time where everything is dark, dank, and depressing. And cold. Turns out only part of that is true.

There’s no denying that it can get cold up here. We have had our share of sub-zero days and dang they can be a shock to the system! And apparently we haven’t yet experienced “really cold” temperatures by Alaska winter standards. That’s just around the corner, the locals tell us.

Wilderness woman wear microspikes over Altra running shoes
Microspikes are the key to getting outside for a run on icy roads.

But do those sub-zero temperatures stop Alaskans from having fun? Nope. And will it stop me? Not a chance.

Up here in the north country, people are tough. Really tough. So are the kids. It’s the Alaska way. And ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you’re a “come here” or a “born here.” To get through the winter, you must learn to adapt if you want to keep your sanity. So you do things like put crazy microspikes on your shoes to avoid falling. You wear the right clothing. And most importantly, you put on the right attitude.

And one of the best examples of the right attitude we’ve seen so far, is the Alaska Bachelor Society’s annual auction and Wilderness Woman Competition.

Finding True Grit at the 2023 Alaska Wilderness Woman Competition

The quirky little hub of Talkeetna is the Alaska town that was the inspiration for the 1990s sitcom Northern Exposure. And as you are about to see, it lives up to the Northern Exposure storylines. Yes, this is a funky, and odd little place. You can feel it whether you come here in summer, or winter. And you can also feel how locals have adapted the right attitude to make the most of winter.

One of the best examples of Talkeetna’s attitude about winter is the Talkeetna Bachelor Society. For the last 44 years, this non-profit has thrown one of the most original fundraisers to help local women and kids get through hard times. The group’s biggest event is the December Bachelor Ball, which auctions off the area’s most rugged bachelors to the highest bidder, all in good fun. They also hold the Alaska Wilderness Woman Competition, where local single women show off their survival skills. It. Is. Hilarious!

Wilderness Woman Competition, Round No. 2

We have all met that guy that needs waited on hand and foot! The next round consists of “delivering” a sandwich (made by you) and a beverage to a bachelor in waiting. That is followed by sawing and hauling wood!

2023 Wilderness Woman Contest, Talkeetna Bachelor Society

When you watch this short snippet of Round 2 that I managed to record, you’ll see that for all these ladies, this is not an act. Sure they’re having fun. But look at them! If they had to do these things in the wild, you and I both know without a doubt that they could pull it of in the dead of winter.

The Wilderness Woman Competition, Round 2

I wish I had filmed more of the Wilderness Woman Competition. But it was -4 degrees that afternoon, and my hands could only handle the cold without gloves for so long. But hey, my inner wilderness woman is working on adapting to the cold. Good thing I have plenty of time in Alaska left to practice.

9 thoughts on “Finding My Inner Wilderness Woman”

  1. Looks like you’re having lots of fun and staying pretty warm in spite of the brutal cold. Down here in the southern part of North America the coldest I’ve seen duckhunting on the river has been 18°F. BTW, I’ve been quail hunting with my musher friend, Joe Runyan! It’s fun to hear him talk about stories of the races up there. I know you and Jim are gonna enjoy them.

    Thanks for reminding me to look up and re-read my story on our blog of the visit to Talkeetna. It’s quite an interesting and funky town on my first trip there before Kim came along, I took a flight seeing Rod around Denali, where we landed it Basecamp, and picked up some survivors quite an experience. Does the old Airstrip still run through town? Is it used anymore?

    Well, have fun and take care and thanks for posting the story of another interesting event in the frozen North!

    • Hey Sam! I looked up your Talkeetna post, good stuff! And nothing has changed, it’s still the same, adorable and weird as ever. Some day you’ll have to tell us about that survivor pick-up, sounds crazy!

      As for the cold, I wouldn’t call it brutal, yet. It was 8 this morning, after a high of 20 yesterday. I think what’s more brutal are the wild temperature swings we’ve been having. Just when you get used to going outside with one jacket and short sleeves, blammo! Time for the parka again. Its a lot of wardrobe changes.

      That would be fun to meet Joe someday. You are so lucky to get to know him!


Leave a Comment