It’s another cloudy and overcast day here in Southeast Alaska. The days prior were sunny with some clouds and it was a welcome change from the usual rain, but now the clouds have returned to cloak Mitkof Island from the sun. Still, the cloudy cool day can’t put a damper on my mood, for today I travel to somewhere new, some place special. Today I visit a fading giant known as LeConte Glacier.
It’s midday and I’m off to head towards the dock to catch the boat that will take me to glacier. As I move through downtown Petersburg, I see the towns people continuing on with their daily lives. They move about the streets, and proceed into shops. Dogs wait anxiously in the beds of trucks, for their beloved owners to return, and I stroll through not even trying to contain my own excitement. I’ve dreamt about visiting a glacier for a long time now, and my excitement grows as the time to leave draws near.
I arrive at the meeting spot, and soon we are off to the nearby dock to board the jet boat. Once on the boat I take a seat in the front, just to the right of the Captain. I’m shocked that the seat is empty as this seat will surely have some of the best views. As I sit, the Captain goes over the standard emergency procedures and information, I do my best to pay attention but I can’t stop thinking about that glacier; sitting within the mountains, just as it has since the ice age. I can’t wait to bask in its glory!
As the boat leaves the harbor it begins to speed, to our destination. I’m taken aback as the jet engines roar and force water through them, propelling the boat across the water. It’s exhilarating, like the first time you ever sped on the open road, only better. Even though we are traveling fast on the water it still takes the boat a good 40 minutes to reach our destination. Luckily for me, time seemed to travel fast on the boat, and before I know it, we are beginning to be surrounded by icebergs.
The area that glacier inhabits is stunning and beautiful. Jagged icebergs float among us, like abstract ice sculptures, weathering beautifully in the cold ocean. The cliff faces on either side of the channel are polished smooth from the glacier. New life has begun to take hold on this island, as young trees and plant life now grow on land that was once covered by ice, only 20 years ago. The large U shaped valleys carved into the rock are covered with vegetation, the green plant life is so vibrant in contrast to the grey stone, and the white snow that it borders.
The glacier warns us to keep our distance as loud thunderous cracks from the glacier moving echoes through the valley. So we keep our distance from the glacier, staying a good quarter-mile away. The glacier stands majestically in the distance. Only allowing us to witness her beauty but not touch it. I reach out of the boat and grab a small chunk of ice that was floating in the water. It’s cold in my hand but I bring it to my lips in order to taste it. The water from the melting ice is unbelievable. It’s the best tasting water I have ever experienced in my life. I think to myself, how fortunate I am to be here, to see this marvel of nature, and to drink water that was frozen so long ago.
Time seemed short in the presence of the glacier, because before I knew it our four hour tour was coming to a close. As we returned back to Petersburg I kept thinking about the glacier. I wondered what it would have been like to visit it ten years ago, and how much it has changed in such little time. It reminded me of why it is important to me to be going on these adventures during this moment of my life. After all, it’s like what I keep telling people who I meet “I’m not running away from things. I’m running to them. Before they flare and fade forever.” There is so much to see in this world, and only so little time to see it. So if you are reading this, and you’re thinking about going somewhere you always wanted to see. I beg you to do everything in your power to do so.
Until next time. Never give up. Never give in.