My first day in Alaska was humbling, we ended up walking down to the beach in Kenai, where only weeks before the state had converged for the annual salmon run dip netting season. The tide was high and the roar of the water loud. The Cook Inlet was churning, the waves muddy and Alaska was saying hi.
Across the inlet were the volcanoes of the northern ring of fire, their caps covered in clouds not yet willing to share. I was struck by how absolutely small I felt and frustrated I think because I think I was beginning to realize what I had stepped into. I was trying to bend something I did not understand, I wanted Alaska to be like Glacier National Park. A place that for me personally is a mecca of sorts, a place where I can really smile, just relax and finally breath life back into a world weary soul.
But this was a bit beyond that, GNP is the carved temple mount, Alaska is watching it be built and I needed to be humbled by it before I could begin to accept the majesty of the venue.
Nothing is small in Alaska and the emotion of the land can easily overwhelm you if you are in tune enough with it to understand what you have stepped into and not everyone will be. In a society quickly disappearing into an attitude of everything needing to happen in fast forward you could completely miss the point. This land calls you to just be, to forget what you know and want and just be.
So I sat there on that boulder that had probably been dropped off on that beach a few thousand years ago by a glacier and realized this was the beginning of something I may never get to repeat. The salty brine destroyed by curls and they tore around my face and I breathed deep for the first time in months and knew a part of me had finally come home.
Before coming to Alaska I asked a friend to try to describe it in a few words. I was looking for direction with my photography. His response was along the lines of what Jon Muir wrote “Go, go and see.” If you have never been here, you cannot understand it.
For people who visit this great state I think two main reactions happen. Some people see a sliver of this state and realize they have had the dubious honor of seeing what it must have been like to see God create because this immense land is still in the midst of formation, ever moving, ever talking, ever being. Unwilling to conform because she is yet to figure what her final essence may be, and those people are okay to leave knowing if for but a moment they saw the breath of the creator.
But then there are the others, those who step into the wild and breathe the air deep to realize that piece of themselves has never truly been home till now. Something about the light being trapped in the glacier blue, that sound you feel in your core as the ice falls and becomes an Artic slurry. Seeing the lines etched on granite boulder from being carried and scraped by sheets of compressed snow.
This is a land in the heart of being carved where the light is pure and the colors untouched by the hands of time, these mountains are still young, these trees still green with hope, these streams still full of courage and persistence. This is a land that will not yield her secrets, like a classy dame of old these giant hills stay shrouded in a veil of gray and white. Leaving you to knows something better lies beneath and you feel obligated to discover what lies beyond what you can see, just over the horizon.
This is a land made for explorers, for thinkers, for dreamers, for those who want to challenge their own essence by one that is ever changing. This is the ever wild giant, this is what your heart knows best, this is Alaska.