Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist.

Slack Tide: Hardcore Alaska soft

Pull up a deluxe rustic retreat reclining chair in mossy oak breakup.

  • By Geoff Kirsch For the Juneau Empire
  • Thursday, December 23, 2021 10:57am
  • Neighbors

By Geoff Kirsch

For the Juneau Empire

Turn off your helmet cam for a second and pull up a deluxe rustic retreat reclining chair in mossy oak breakup.

I live in Alaska. I kick butt and take names. And then I add them to my Instagram feed, so you can see photos of the smoked salmon strata I had for brunch.

Let me put it another way: I shred more “gnar” during a pee break than you’ll rip in an entire lifetime. All day—and any night I don’t fall asleep power-streaming old episodes of “Northern Exposure”—I’m a latte-sipping, camouflage jammies-wearing, fleece-blanketed couch enthusiast with a bottomless appetite for halibut nachos.

That’s right: I’m hardcore Alaska soft. And when I really get into it, man, look out—I’ll wear my butt groove a new butt groove.

Yeah, bro, I hit it 24/7/365 (actually more like 360—I take an extra-long weekend for Seward Day).

Feast your polarized polycarbonate anti-fog lenses on my gear: Merino wool, Gore-Tex, neoprene, Capilene and recycled polyester in 18.5 micron-gauge yarn, windproof, waterproof, stain resistant and, of course, gluten-free. It took me all summer and fall to outfit myself, using a complex combination of Cabela’s, eBay, Juneau Buy-Sell-Trade and every pile of junk I saw on the side of the road marked “free.” Waste of time? Hardly. With all the sticky situations I get into, the right gear makes all the difference. Especially when cheese sauce is involved (which, invariably, it is).

My base-layer wicks sweat so effectively, I risk dehydration whenever I wear underwear. That’s why I drink so much. And often go commando.

You know, it’s hard work taking it this easy. For instance, I pull dawn patrol every day the ski hill’s open, so I can pick the perfect line—usually the ticket window is way quicker for ordering your breakfast burrito than inside the cafeteria.

Speaking of, great snow so far this year. Man, I live for powder days, you know, those crisp, cold mornings right after a fresh snowfall, when I whip up a monster batch of pancakes heaped with confectioners sugar. White room, man, white room.

You want to know how hardcore Alaska soft I am? When I walk into a bakery, sourdough starter stops. Bears wear bells to scare ME off, although those don’t really work. Neither do Geoff-proof trashcans. If I want to eat your garbage, I’m going to eat your garbage. And don’t approach me, either. I’m liable to get aggressive.

907 is the PIN for all my accounts, or at least it would be, if there wasn’t a five-character minimum with a combination of alphanumeric and special characters, so I usually go with my fall-back, “spawntilyoudie49!”

I listen to Jewel, constantly. Gum is for cheechakos—I chew smoked salmon.


When summertime comes, I go midnight sunbathing. That’s the only time my skin can take it. I also like to hike, for hours and hours and hours at a time.

Wait? Did I say “hike”? I meant “Skype.” When summertime comes, I like to Skype for hours on end, so I can flash my camera out the window for my friends and family to see what a beautiful day I’m wasting inside on frivolous videoconferences.

Of course, even someone as hardcore Alaska soft as me can’t screen the call of the wild forever. On those sunny, windless days, I’ll take my kayak, which I strapped to my roof on a similar day the previous summer and still haven’t removed, and head out to my favorite launch. Of course, I won’t make it. That place by the harbor has onion rings. And milk shakes. And now there’s a brewery across the street? Forget it.

After a hard day looking at the giant mess of skis, poles, skates, sleds, bikes, paddles, PFDs, waders and fishing gear in my garage and trying to remember how long it’s been since I actually used any of that stuff, I love nothing more than to unwind with some Alaska-based reality TV. I’ve seen every episode of every series ever made, from “Ice Road Truckers” to “Ice Pilots;” “Ax Men” to “Alaska Wing Men;” “Buying Alaska” to “Flying Wild Alaska.” Plus, of course, “Alaska State Troopers” and “Coast Guard Alaska,” on the Weather Channel.

Speaking of which, have you seen the Weather Channel’s other Alaska-based reality show, “Alaska Meteorological Forecast”? Sure, the special effects are kind of budget, but man, I’ll watch that one for hours at a time.

In fact, I may have to bivvy right here in the living room.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.

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