Since coming to Alaska, Mackenzie’s bucket list has gotten out of hand

Mackenzie Pope joined Trustees at the end of November. She joins our team as digital communications manager after years of work in municipal government and political campaigns. Here, she talks about her love of the land and her Alaska community.

I am so excited to join the Trustees team as digital communications manager!

Mackenzie holds a white dog while hiking above a view of the Cook Inlet, reflecting blue sky and mountains
Mackenzie hiking Gull Rock with a very enthusiastic dog friend, Kiska!

I was raised on Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) lands now known as Central Illinois; I went to university on Kanaka Maoli lands now known as Hawai’i; and now I am extremely lucky to have a home on unceded Dena’ina lands in Anchorage. I have been exploring Alaska since 2018, and have benefited immensely from the stewardship of many Alaska Native peoples.

Since moving here, I have fallen in love with the mountains and rivers, but it is the community that has kept me here. I have learned so much from my friends and neighbors, I work hard to ensure I’m giving as much back to this community as I have received. We are lucky to enjoy so much abundance — protecting sacred lands and waters is the only way we can make sure that continues.

Mackenzie stands in front of a glacier at Crow Pass
Mackenzie hiking Crow Pass

Walking on the land

I used to backpack when I was younger, but hadn’t done it in years when I started it up again here. The learning curves (and trails) are a lot steeper in the North, but I’ve had an amazing time hiking Crow Pass, the Chilkoot trail, and many, many others.

I have found hiking and backpacking to be great ways to learn the history of this place. My next challenge is to learn how to downhill ski! We’re lucky to live in such an amazing state with so much to offer, but I must admit a downside is that my bucket list is getting quite out of hand. My list now includes visiting Anan Bay, the Gates of the Arctic, the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, the Walrus Islands, and innumerable more places (please email me if you have a particularly good idea).

Reading her way to adventure

Backpacking is my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors, but I also spend my free time (and winter months) classic skiing, reading, and doing puzzles. I’m a frequent visitor to the Loussac Library – when I can’t be out on the land exploring I can easily read my way into an adventure.

It’s also one of the most accessible spaces in Anchorage, which is something that became very important to me when I recently broke my leg. So you won’t catch me on the trails in 2021, but I will (hopefully) be back out in the wilderness in 2022.

Mackenzie wearing a red backpack in front of a field of wildflowers with a mountain and blue sky while hiking Lost Lake
Backpacking Lost Lake on Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) lands.

This period of not being able to be out has given me a new appreciation for skiing on dark winter afternoons, to go for a quick walk at lunch on the city’s trail system, and the ability to disconnect by hiking in the Chugach after a chaotic week. It has made me very aware of how important protecting the land and increasing accessibility to it is to me personally and to the health of my community.

I’m excited to better my community with Trustees!