#thehikinggalorports

#thehikinggalorports

Now ever since my rheumatologist told me I couldn’t really get back into running or anything that would significantly affect my joints’ capacity to handle mechanical stress, the world of hiking seemed to be more appealing as I felt my leg muscles grow softer and softer each day.  I have gotten concerned that my soft tissues would eventually lose their tone and not be strong enough to support my joints. This was especially encouraged by my physical therapist after she helped me manage my cervical spine problems. So Sam and I started to go on short day hikes with elevation (as advised by my PT), and then we eventually progressed to longer hikes. I have had difficulty in making this a habit because of the cold (yes, I still haven’t gotten used to it), but Sam has helped me bundle up more effectively and of course the scenery is a reward that makes me look forward to it every time. Ever since we moved here, we have hiked a total of around 14 trails, some more often than the others, some didn’t actually have a trail like that time we hiked across the frozen Mendenhall Lake toward the Ice Caves last winter. I’d like to list them all down– makes me feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. 🙂

East Glacier Trail

West Glacier Trail to Mt. Mcginnis

Spaulding Meadows/ Auke Nu Trail

Lena Loop Trail

Herbert Glacier Trail

Airport Dike Trail

Mendenhall River Trail

False Outer Point/ Bluff Trail

Sandy Beach

Peterson Lake Trail

Salmon Creek Trail

Perseverance Trail

Granite Creek Trail

EagleCrest Trail

Ice Caves Hike

Not bad for first-timers, right?

Here’s Sam, calculating how many more miles before we reach the ridge.

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You wanna share a room?

I took an exam in Anchorage more than a week ago, and what was supposed to be a daytrip turned into an overnight action-packed adventure. Excuse the exaggeration. The flight from Juneau to Anchorage at 6 o’ clock in the morning was rather uneventful. It was my return flight at 8 o’ clock in the evening on the same day that turned out to be a shocker. Since I took an exam, you could imagine how much stress I’ve been through the past week, not being able to sleep much, let alone eat 3 meals a day. And so as expected, by the time I was on the plane back  to Juneau, I was exhausted. And because I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep, I let out a huge sigh when the captain announced that we were preparing for landing. I didn’t see much outside the window since I was on an aisle seat. What I saw were clouds and some lights. As the plane descended and while I was counting the minutes and happily looking at the visible lights and rooftops out the window, longing to be in the comfort of my own bed, the plane suddenly shifted and pulled up. What had happened?

“Sorry folks, 0 visibility down there, we will be landing in Sitka instead.” Groans and irritated chatter. By the time we were at the airport in Sitka, everybody was on their phones talking to their concerned loved ones about the change of plans. Honestly, I was lost. Do we wait for the fog in Juneau to lift? How long could that take? Do we sleep at the airport? Just as I was going to ask a crew member, we all then received news about having to pay for our own hotel room because the airport was closing in 30 minutes and “weather difficulty” didn’t count for airline-sponsored accommodations. Everybody was angry. This lady was really mad at one of the crew members and said, “I will never fly Alaska Airlines again!” And then I thought, “Isn’t this the only interstate airline in this part of the country? Does that mean she’s never going to visit Alaska ever?” I was waiting on the sideline, hoping something good would end up happening after this angry lady complained about not having enough funds for a hotel room (which was pretty much the same as my predicament), but I ended up being told by Sam to just get a hotel room and get some rest rather than stress about the cost and end up getting sick.

People started looking around for potential roommates and so I found myself searching for one as well. I approached this really nice lady and asked, “You wanna share a room?” To my relief, she gladly consented. From then on, we talked nonstop. Even when we were already both in bed, we continued to talk about our families, how she came to live in Juneau, common friends, her daughter, and a whole lot more. We fell asleep at around 1 am, woke up at 4 am and headed to the airport, since we were told our flight was going to be at 6 am. But of course we waited for 5 more hours at the airport. Foggy weather being as unpredictable as can be, we left Sitka at around 11:30am. Boy was I relieved to see Sam’s smiling face in the driver’s seat as he parked the car on the airport arrival curb. His “Welcome home!” was enough to remind me how exhausted and hungry I was, and so I broke down in tears.

Given the number of times I have to travel in a year to and from LA to visit my aunt, my rheumatologist, and my gynecologist, I would suppose this experience will definitely not be the last. Next time I will be more prepared. If it hadn’t been for Sam  telling me to grab a couple of granola bars before leaving Juneau, I would have collapsed from hypoglycemia before we even got back. Pessimism aside, you remember when the apostle Paul told us to “give thanks in everything”? Well, I am definitely grateful for this experience. I am thankful for the opportunity to visit Sitka, even if it wasn’t the most ideal tour package, at least the hotel shuttle driver was kind enough to give us a little history. I am also thankful for having met a new friend. She’s Asian, Thai, actually, and she was really nice. Most of all, I am grateful because the pilot decided to land the plane safely in Sitka rather than risk all of our lives landing on an invisible runway. Although this last item- the risks involved in landing a plane without being able to see the runway- had to be explained to me by Sam over and over again before I could understand why the plane didn’t have fog lights or if it did, why it didn’t help, or why the pilot had to actually see the runway before being able to land, or why the fog couldn’t be “fanned” out of the runway. Yes, I can be that naive.

Rocky Gutierrez Airport (Sitka)
Rocky Gutierrez Airport (Sitka)
At the Departure Area (Sitka)
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Alaska- who would have thought?

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Most of you probably don’t know how and why we ended up living in the Last Frontier. Well, I don’t know either. One thing I’m sure of though, is that God plucked us out of that comfort zone called Bukidnon, and relocated us to an even colder place (as if Bukidnon wasn’t cold enough) called Juneau, Alaska. It has been 4 months since we left the Philippines and a lot of things have already happened. More than a year ago, we were in a period of perplexity, some disillusionment I might say, for not knowing where to go, and what to do. We both quit our jobs in a mission hospital, convinced that God was leading us somewhere else. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. It seemed as if we were waiting forever. It was during that period of waiting that we were tested- of our faith, our patience, and most of all discernment. I was the first one who got discouraged and doubted. I was convinced that we did everything we could to find Sam a job in the US. I talked to hospital HR departments; I called recruitment agencies, talked to some friends to help us, and sent online applications. After 6 months of waiting for that magical email or phone call, I felt that all my efforts were put to waste. And just as I was about to give up, as if hearing our plea, a friend suddenly informed Sam of a job opening. And then after that fateful referral and job interview, everything started to fall into place. Even if at one point we thought we lost that job because they never called Sam back in 2 months, and even if those 2 months of silent treatment brought about discouragement (this time it was Sam’s turn), everything miraculously worked out in the end. And it all happened in less than a year! Talk about answered prayer! Of course we are eternally grateful to the people who have helped us come here- our families, Michelle, BRH lab, admin and HR staff. Alaska! I mean I was planning to spend the rest of my life in hot, sunny (California) weather, or that group of tropical islands called the Philippines, but this? Who knew we would end up in Alaska?

Apparently, God did. He knew it all along. This brings me to Jeremiah 29:11. I will never get tired of this Bible verse, it gave us much encouragement during that period of waiting- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Although God was speaking to the nation of Israel, it was as if He was speaking to Sam and I too. He already had plans for us, just as He had plans in restoring the nation of Israel. And He didn’t mean that plan would unfold right away. Whether it be less than a year or 40 years, it’s HIS plan, so He implements it HIS way in HIS time, no matter how much effort we put into it. In fact, this is supposed to take a lot of stress off our shoulders. We don’t have to worry about anything! Our job then is to wait and to continue seeking His will, discerning and desiring what He desires, trusting that whatever it is He gives you in the end, or wherever He puts you, it is always to prosper you. Easier said than done, though. I know that waiting is hard- many times we lose hope easily, or we could doubt God’s sovereignty. But you know what, during those times, it will be helpful to remember how God has been faithful to the nation of Israel, or how He has been faithful to you all these years. Why wouldn’t He be faithful to you now? “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.” (Psalm 33:4) You may get what you’ve always wanted and prayed for, and sometimes you may not. Everything might not end up as you expected, but it IS God’s best for you, and that is what’s important. Because, honestly, most of the time we don’t even know what’s best for us. We didn’t expect to live in Alaska ever (okay, maybe just me, because Sam loves it here), but God thought it best. Who are we then to refuse?