After a once in a lifetime kayaking experience you’d think my mom and I wouldn’t have pushed it. We’d have crawled into our adorable cabins out in the woods next to a, I shit you not, babbling brook, and decided in the morning we’d head back to Anchorage. Where there was no threat of whales landing on us.
But no. We hadn’t had enough natural splendor, and we needed to try our hands with another Alaskan wonder.
Saturday morning we geared up and took off on the Harding Icefield trail (shit you not, 12 steps in someone was standing paralyzed on the trail because someone had spotted a baby bear) that runs along the insanely amazing Exit Glacier. We had the ultimate goal of getting to the top and seeing the entire Harding Icefield spread out before us. Three hundred and fifty miles of ice. So much ice that mountain tops stick up and look like little nubbins. The Harding Icefield is in essence one giant glacier, and then ‘little’ glaciers like Exit Glacier (which we hiked along side) sort of become fingers that spill from the main field.
Basically? A whole lot of awesome that looks like this.
(photo credit, rockpaperscissors)
Instead, we saw this.
Doesn’t have the same wow factor, you know?
So sure, we were disappointed after the worlds most beautiful and quite difficult hike to reach the top and be fogged in, but the hike was still worth it. Soggy, but so worth it.
All in all, even with the rain and the fact that we ate our lunch in a windowless ‘storm shelter’ that was absolutely the most freezing cold I’ve ever been, the hike was breathtaking.
I feel like that’s my go-to explanation for the beauty of Alaska. It’s breathtaking. Because it is. But it’s so much more, so truly indescribable that when I sit down to tell you how these experiences moved me I find myself so completely void of explanation.
I know people who live their whole lives in Alaska become numb to the mountains, to the glaciers, to the fact that living in this state is like living in a zoo without cages. They can stand on beaches looking off into the most beautiful sights and simply exist. I hope that if I lived here the rest of my life I’ll never lose the feeling of awe that takes over me when I gaze at this wild state. Because as it stands, 9 times out of 10 I look upon things like Exit Glacier and I find myself so welled up with emotion and awe that I swear I don’t know what to do with myself.
I get it now why people fight so hard to keep this place wild. Before I moved here I was on the tree hugging “save Alaska!” side, because in general I’m a crunchy tree hugger, but now, now that I can see it and touch everything Alaskan I feel like a protective mother. I get it so fully why people are fighting to keep the salmon running, the caribou migrating, the polar bears living, whales breeding and glaciers existing. Because to not have them would take away everything that makes living here so undeniably, Alaskan.
If you’ve ever found the wonders of nature to be interesting or even slightly powerful I suggest you get your ass to Alaska. You wont believe this place.
I still don’t.