Days 200 to 213 Loving Getting Older

the motley crew on Tustumena Glacier

This has been my birthday month, and I have just turned 39 awesome years old! For the 5 weeks after my birthday and before my boyfriend’s, it appears I am robbing the cradle – or maybe just borrowing from the cradle – when he says he is 37, which sounds like 2 years younger, hee hee;) I quite revel in it.

It has been important to me to spend my birthday in the mountains. I have been in the mountains in one way or another every August since I was 18. However, last year, when I went to the Palisades in the Sierra Nevada and my bestie, Kristen Cates, and I frolicked in alpine lakes and scrambled up glaciers wearing Chacos sandals, I realized I fill my cup most when I am with my girlfriends in the big mountains. Suffice it to say, Kristen graced me with her presence by flying to Alaska for a couple of weeks. It was awesome!

After she left (and after our adventures of sailing, hiking, crossing cable bridges over rivers, yoga in the forest, etc) my friends Monty, Ole, and my boyfriend Thai and I went to the Tustumena Glacier and explored this area on the Kenai Peninsula, accessing the infamous Harding Icefield and making out way to Truuli Glacier. It was epic! We took an armada of boats to a seasonal island (otherwise an isthmus) in Tustamena Lake where 10 of us hung out together for the eve. We grilled halibut on the top of the wood burning stove and played music late into the night…and the cabin was a surprise! An uber- nice blessing for sure.

Only two of the boats were “sea worthy” enough to make it through the rough waters of the rest of the lake traverse the next day (I think the lake is near 25 miles long!). This left 8 of us at the base of the Tustumena Glacier, where we cooked moose meat loaf (!!!) over a fire, and had other amazing meals as well. Yes, we had more than one meal in less than 6 hours. It was awesome. In fact, we may have had three meals.

The next day, our friends Don, Burt, Shane, and his son, Simon, dropped us off at the mouth of Tustumena Creek, and we hiked up to the base of the glacier. It was gorgeous! But seemingly impassable. Steep rock walls lined the sides of the glacier, and at the base was its terminal lake and steep ice fins and ice walls, with the lake filled with icebergs and silty slush.

Well, I lied. We did have the option of bushwhacking at least a mile, through the usual Alaskan up-and-down terrain, which takes hours in the thick alder. We were up for it…but mañana.

But wait! Thai says, “OR, I can get energized and run back to basecamp and get the packrafts and we can paddle around and find a way to get onto the glacier. Maybe.”

That sounded way better! For us at least. What took us 4 hours one way took Thai 2.5 hours round trip. He ran most of the way, and slept well that night. (The pic of the lake at the base of the glacier is above).

A bit of perspective on paddling around icebergs in the terminal lake

The next morning, we loaded two to a packraft and explored, finding one finger of morraine at which we thought we could safely dismount the packrafts and get onto the glacier. It worked! Shuttling the gear took another 2 hours, then we were off towards the Harding Icefield and Truuli Peak. The packrafts saved us hours. Love them! And Thai;)

I’ll keep the story short: it was freakin’ gorgeous! We had epically good weather (rained once and we were asleep most of the time), and the views were utterly spectacular. Truuli looks stout. We would definitely need better alpine gear as we were only prepared for a snow-slope or moderate ridge options, of which there were neither. Two of us had Kahtoola microspikes which were THE gear of choice for this trip. The others had less-than-ideal crampons and we all agreed the Kahtoolas rocked for glacier travel and even some moderate slopes for experiences peeps.

We ate like divas (sorry guys) and had warm soups for lunch, and scrumptious dinners, and even an Asian coconut custard birthday cake for Ole. That’s a long story.

On the way out the boys did a little sheep hunting. Sited six, but they were too small. I was somewhat thrilled about that. I scattered my dad’s ashes in the most surreal of places, spots where lush alpine tundra meets views of the stark and dramatic Harding Icefield, and another where two glorious glaciers parted like a frozen sea past the rock outcrop we were camped on, above an ephemeral lake jumbled with blocks of ice, like the eddy of the glacier if ice could indeed swirl in geologic slow-motion.

There’s more, but this is my “Full On 365” blog, and not an Outdoor Magazine article, so I’ll save more juiciness for another time.

Suffice it to say: it rocked my world. The whole month. All the people in my life. My boyfriend. My mom. My friends. My family. My self.

Indeed, myself. I am glad – and even a bit proud – to know I am still adventuring, and also still growing spiritually. Life is amazing. I truly love my life.

During this month, I have to admit I did notice that I wasn’t 24 anymore. And not all of that is bad.

Here’s what I notice is different now that I am 39 years old that is a little inconvenient:

  • I seem to need more sleep. I used to feel “fine” after 5-6 hours now and then. Perhaps what it really means is I expect more out of how I show up in the world, and that requires a cup that is more full
  • I need to stretch and do yoga. Before it just felt good and I thought of it as a great part of my workout. Now I neeeeeed it.
  • Slower metabolism.
  • Coffee gives me worse panic attacks than ever. I am learning to love tea more and more.
  • I have to hear, “OMG you SO don’t look 39! You look, like, 32 at the most!” all the time. As if I was supposed to be haggard at 39. As if the possibility of someone being youthful in their late 30s is such a shock to a 20-something who you also have to talk to all night and keep hearing, “I can’t believe you’ve done so much! Oh, I keep forgetting you’re SO MUCH older than me!” Funny thing is I used to do (kinda) the same thing. Karma’s a bitch. I know, I know…if I really had my shit together I’d see all that as true compliments. But its rather like saying to someone, “Oh! You’re still skinny! You’re supposed to be fat by now.”

Things I like about getting older that are freakin’ awesome:

  • I like to read before bed
  • I have a growing acceptance of doing nothing and feeling good about it
  • I am less controlled by a need to impress others
  • Sex keeps getting better. Who EVER knew!!!! Yay!
  • I am happier
  • I have more skills with which to help others
  • I am still sexy and pretty and am growing into my womanhood more and more, with grace
  • I am more in love than I have ever been. Ever.
  • I trust the Universe
  • I am a better person
  • My body’s new “needs” keep me aware of how I treat it, and I take care of it better and better
  • My friends are still around, and still love me and celebrate me – and they know me even better!
  • I have a better understanding of my shit and how to deal with it
  • I have a better understanding that we all have our shit, and how to help others deal with theirs
  • …and more
Thai started building this woodshed while I wrote this blogpost. No shit. In like, minutes.

If you ever fear getting older, don’t. Take care of your body, your soul and your mind. Show up in the world with integrity and compassion. Do the right thing. Have fun! It gets better. For realz!

BTW to the left is a photo of what my boyfriend did while I wrote this blog post. Men are awesome;)

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Freedom Junkie™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)!