Posted by: Stephanie Tuck | September 16, 2020

Almost Heaven : Denali

Little plane that could

“Live it up,” was what a friend said when I told him recently that I was going to Alaska, and his words have stayed with me.

Live. It. Up.

Simple and sweet and pretty darn smart. If 2020 has taught us anything, this astonishing year of epic, biblical plagues, it is to seek (and guard) your pleasures whenever and wherever you can. Gather ye rosebuds. And for me, in this moment, happiness means crisp air,  outrageous natural beauty, and few to no people (ha!).  And  so…Denali, beautiful Denali, auspiciously named “The Great One,” the highest mountain in North America.

Sometimes a change of scenes is just what the doctor ordered and I am all in for grand gestures.

Permafrost meets perma grin

I am here to clear my head and ponder next moves far far from my New York City home.  It is the age of COVID, so I am not alone in this search and this migration – institutions that seemed permanent are crumbling, security as we knew it is gone,  and universally families and friends are scattered. So much has changed so radically from life as we knew it I wonder if I will be able to go home again. And to what? It’s time to make new paths, forge new directions. It’s time to question and see with fresh eyes. It can be hard to think amid the boogie woogie taxi tangle. And so, Denali. And ice and snow and sun.

The pandemic has one pleasant side effect here: the park is closed to climbers so our little plane (our pilot tells us, proudly, it was built in 1965!) is alone on the makeshift landing strip at base camp. There is no one here, no footprints, no noise, no discarded gear. It is pristine and REMARKABLE.  The world here is two tone, just snow and sky. We deplane and stand silently, hearing only the wind whistle in our ears. What a priceless gift.  All is startling brightness.

And so I ask myself, as you, dear reader, must ask yourself as well: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  This central question by poet Mary Oliver, is the puzzle that I am parsing while here. Let’s see where I – where we – will go…



  1. Breathtaking. Happy that you could get a way, and agree…. “if this is IT, what do I want to be doing?” ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOVE. THIS. POST. & you. & mary Oliver. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. Enjoy every minute of it- I know you are!

    Sending love xoxoxo Erica

    Sent from wherever I am…


    Liked by 1 person

  3. You video is reminiscent of what we shot in 95 while shooting a project for PBS….

    thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: