This is the first post as part of a new series featuring strong and determined women travelers and guides. Today’s guest author is Brooke Edwards of Wild World Wanderings on “redefining sexy”.
Alaska Girls Kick Ass reads the hot pink bumper sticker donning many a vehicle in the 49th State and beyond. And it’s actually true, Alaska girls DO kick ass. I truly feel honored to be a woman amongst some of the strongest, most athletic, interesting, hard-core, sexy, feminine, beautiful, talented Renaissance women of Alaska.
Being sexy here is not the curve of your breasts, nor is it what ridiculous amount of money you spent on designer jeans. Alaska Sexy is how a woman skis a more jaw-dropping line than most dudes. It’s how she rows the rapid and pulls over to catch, fillet and cook her salmon over a fire. It’s how she owns the dance floor with wild confidence, secure in her own skin and extra tufts. Alaska Sexy is a goggle tan and sunburned lips.
Alaskan women are wilderness guides, hunters, fisherwomen, carpenters, adventurers, endurance athletes and more. They build their own homes, catch their own fish, chainsaw their own firewood and fix their own trucks.
In 1998, life presented me a quandary: move to Montana to chase a boy, or embrace the wild unknown of my lifelong dream to go to Alaska and guide. I chose the wild unknown, and, with what little savings I had, managed to purchase my first home: a small hippie shack dry cabin in a bog on railroad ties with the address Toadstool Turnpike, Girdwood. Hearing that I would have to heat my cabin with wood and haul my own water, my dad gifted me his 25-year-old Stihl chainsaw with a big red bow on it as an early Christmas that year. He wanted to provide me with the gift that heats you twice: gathering your own wood and burning it later.
When I first moved to Girdwood, Alaska, I was expecting to find a bunch of dudes who fit the state saying “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” I steeled my resolve to keep my independent status while I survived being the fresh meat in town. Instead, I found an incredible group of inspiring women, from boat captains to bush pilots, heli-ski guides to firefighters. They took me in, taught me real skills that in 20 years of wilderness guiding in Alaska have proved invaluable. Namely, skills that are hard to define, such as perseverance, tolerance for adversity and following your passion over money.
I am grateful for my Girls Gone Girdwood, the funny name we called ourselves back in the day. Without the GGG, and other phenomenal women getting after it, I would still be struggling to redefine sexy from what society has stuffed down our throats–the airbrushed, manufactured, far-too-skinny magazine model female–to the different vision I embrace today; of strength, power and inner beauty shining from inside out.
To get a sense of what I’m talking about, check out this short 9 minute film highlighting two of my favorite girlfriends and mentors: Leighan Falley and Kirsten Kremer.
The last two summers, I was lucky enough to guide Colton Smith and Jack Steward with the TV show Rock The Park on ABC Saturday mornings. One year, I took them on a remote river trip on the Aniakchak River where you fly into a lake in the crater of a volcano and raft it out to the ocean. The next year, they asked me [to join them] for another adventure and this time we ventured on foot deep into the heart of the brutally rugged Arrigetch Peaks in Gates of The Arctic.
Their show is an educational TV show aimed at families with the mission of inspiring more folks to get out and enjoy our National Parks. Their motto is “If we can do it, so can you!” To me, this couldn’t have rung more true as I pondered the impact on little girls nationwide watching me, a woman, guide these young fit men in some of the wildest corners of our planet. I thought to myself, “pay attention, girls: If I can do it, so can you.”
Here’s to redefining sexy and owning our power in the wilderness and at home, ladies. Let’s Do This!
Brooke Edwards of Wild World Wanderings hails from the Great Pacific Northwest, where her passion for all things outdoors was born. Alaska has been her home for the last 20 years. You can find her year-round exploring mountains and rivers in both the vast wilderness of Alaska and international wild locales. Brooke has an M.S. in Environmental Education with a primary focus on Ecotourism from The Audubon Expedition Institute. She’s spent over 2 decades incorporating these principles in her guiding. Brooke would love to share her passion for all things travel by custom designing the perfect itinerary for you.