Tag Archives: glacier

The hardship of impermanence

The reality of global warming hit me as I stood close to a melting glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park and watched a small stream trickle off the edge of this massive, frozen form. Living in the Midwest my entire life I grew up concerned about global warming, but far removed from the issue. I have always believed in the reality of global warming but the changing weathers direct connection to me was minimal.

But as I hiked up the trail that lead to the glacier back in Seward, Alaska, I passed signs that had dates on them which marked what year the glacier had been in that spot. As I continued on, I noticed the rapid regression of the glacier. Even since 1994, the year I was born, the glacier has melted almost a mile.

Seeing this drastic environmental change made me think of a quote said by Nelson when we interviewed him back in Bethel:

For the people that don’t believe in climate change.. you know, I don’t blame you for being a skeptic, but there are no climate deniers here in Bethel or in the rural parts of Alaska because we are living climate change, this is ground zero for us…I think we just need to find a way to say sorry to the land, and sorry that we are doing something wrong, and if it is then just you know…please forgive us…we need you here …

I think one of the greatest struggles of humanity is that we fall in love with things that are not meant to last forever. People die. Glaciers melt. Friendships fade. Permafrost subsides. Culture clashes with modernity.  While we try to cling onto things that are familiar, it would be remiss to think that the world keeps things stagnant. This is not to say that humans are not at fault for causing change to be made more quickly or for participating for destructive actions, but it is a struggle when things change.

As Brian McCaffery, a biologist we interviewed, pointed out- God is in control but we are His stewards. We are called to apologize for our actions, seek forgiveness, and resolve to find better ways to cope with God’s ever-changing world.

The melting glacier in national park.
The melting glacier in the  Kenai Fjords National Park.

 

Seward: Heaven on Earth

After a beautifully scenic descent into Anchorage, and after making sure everybody had their baggage (ahem, Tony…), we walked outside into the beautiful Alaskan air to meet our tour guides. Patrick (or Francois, according to Claudia) and Todd met us outside of the baggage claim area in their Levis and crew neck sweatshirts. They were personable and welcoming, just like everyone else we had met in Alaska so far.

Welcome to *paradise
Welcome to *paradise

From Anchorage, Patrick and Todd drove us to Seward, which is on the Kenai Peninsula. It was about a three hour drive because we kept stopping to look at the beautiful scenery. The water with the backdrop of the mountains was breathtaking.

Hours after our departure from Anchorage, a tired group arrived in Seward. This beautiful coastal town was truly one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. I think the group would agree that even though we were in the middle of this place, it still didn’t feel real. It felt like we were living in a scenic postcard.

That night we all got to sleep in real BEDS, which was absolute Heaven. After spending so many nights on a floor in a sleeping bag, a clean bed felt better than ever. We also all were relieved to have easy access to showers and unlimited warm water again. Even Nico finally showered (his first time to shower since we left Omaha).

My glacier and I
My glacier and I

On our first full day in Seward, we were lucky enough to ride in a big boat to see some ocean wildlife and glaciers. That all-day boat ride was probably my favorite thing we did in Seward. The dreary weather that day was perfectly suited for seeing whales and sea otters, among other things. The glacier was enormous, and we got to watch parts of it falling off. The ride back to the dock was amazing because the skies cleared and we were able to get some incredibly beautiful photos of the mountains and some animals.

The next day was our last day in Seward, so as Patrick and Todd drove us back to Anchorage to catch our flight, they stopped at a wildlife reserve. We got to see moose, caribou, bears, and wild eagles, just to name a few.

That night as we slept peacefully and comfortably in the Anchorage airport (haha…), we all dreamt of the beauty that is Alaska, and reflected on what an incredible few weeks it had been.

Both Bethel and Seward offered such different experiences and I am so grateful to have been able to see both sides of Alaska, the native aspect and the tourism aspect.

Quyana, Alaska, for showing us your hospitality and beauty.

I will be back!