Soaring through the air, I felt wraithlike, fighting feelings of disbelief. The forest passes by underneath with subtle but obvious speed. Braided rivers, now forest, now white capped mountains, now glaciers… Winding our way up a pathway of ice, we approach, closer and closer, touch down. We exit the plane into an icescape of sheer ruggedness; the south face of Denali can be seen just 15 miles away. Am I dreaming? How did I get here? In utter incredulity I retrace my steps in my head to be sure this is actually real.
It wasn’t supposed to be sunny. But as the day progressed a good weather window became apparent and after a week of solid rain we were ready. In the afternoon, shortly after my last commitment for the week was satisfied, three of us jumped on the opportunity to take a closer look at the glacier that looms at the end of the bay.
We paddled past the all too familiar Slate Island and landed with perfect sunshine on Aialik Beach, a little spit of land that get’s you as close as you’d ever want to get to the face of a frequently calving tidewater glacier.
We walked across this spit to shout, holler, and throw ice back at the glacier, which responded in kind with the returning echo of our voices. Ice the size of cars, busses and houses fell from three hundred feet into the water with a resounding thunder. We hooted and hollered some more, as is customary when bearing witness to such a spectacle. I just couldn’t get enough but after a significant amount of time we decided to paddle onwards.
It’s been over a month now since I moved to my Alaskan Summer Home, The Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, located in Aialik Bay, but the reality of being here is just beginning to sink in. I believe it has taken so long because this is place should exist only in dreams…
…When the clouds clear the mountains shoot out of the sea in dramatic jagged grandeur, the sun hits the peaks and the lingering snow shimmers a sparkling glistening gleam, the view out of the bay is nearly infinite hindered by nothing but the curve of the earth, the glaciers thunder with inconceivable might and the fallen ice flows out to the sea in an ancient march of maddening power and patience...
To call this work seems like cheating, as I’d want to be doing this anyway. On top of the job I have never seen nor heard of an office with such a spectacular view. Our crew of 22 is filled with personalities of the smart, the funny, the creative, the thoughtful, and even the exceedingly kind. I have read all the signs and hold the feeling that this will become a truly remarkable summer.
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