Saturday, June 07, 2008

In Alaska

A few miles south of where Christopher McCandless disappeared into the wild we trudged a small trail cut through the taiga towards the treeless tundra above. Early spring, and signs of caribou and bear are everywhere marking the trail with bullets of brown and smears of black. Fiddlehead ferns are just now beginning to play their bright green song across the lower reaches of the Alaska Range. We wade after the snowshoeing tracks of bears above the treeline into the snowfields where, kinking our necks, the glory of Denali – the High One – is finally revealed to us under the glare and chill of the arctic sun and wind. Huddled in an alcove shared with arctic ground squirrels we marvel that our place is one in a million “Indian Points” in the mountains of Alaska – yet it feels pretty special to us. We are glad to be alive and here.

Alaska peels the skin off our ears and eyes. The primordial breath of a whale jetting a stream of mist out of the glassy fjord a few rocky steps away; the clarion screed of bald eagles wheeling over our popping and crackling inlet of exposed blue muscles and washed-out mollusks; the same eagles enveloping a deciduous rainforest with the sounds of wings against branches and air – brilliant flashes of white through spruce draped in moss.

We blow bloated sounds over blades of grass in our clenched fists at Jennifer and the clear air and Hans and I laugh maniacally. We melt ancient ice in our mouths – assisting the planet in melting earth’s glaciers. A thousand smooth stones are skipped. Beluga whales are not seen; grizzly bears are spotted (and thought to be heard by Jennifer – “we need to make a lot of noise so we don’t surprise him!”). The tide rushes in and out as if we are not there at all.

Alaska makes me feel small. It also makes me want to live: to be outside and healthy in a world of living things.We had a nice trip.


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