Carrying Home Alaska
By Bobby DeMarinis, Expedition Guide on the Legacy
On the shore, a slight, dark opening invites us to pass over the border where the rocky beach ends and the wilderness begins. Nothing marks our jumping-off point, no trail marker nor cairn. We are guided by a simple and ancient intuition through this doorway into another world.
The morning light filtered through the spruce branches, dancing over our wandering gazes that were lost in the splendor of immersion into the woods. We made our way through a glistening forest, shimmering in its damp coat from the evening’s gentle rain. We wrung each worry from our bodies and minds with every step through this wild cathedral.
Alaska is a place that you carry back home with you. You bring back the feeling of peace and humility you had while silently soaking in the wilderness when you knew that there was no other possible place to be. You bring back an admiration and respect for a landscape brimming with life and all its varied stories. You bring back the little treasures of wonder you found in the unexpected brilliance of nature’s smallest heroes. You bring back the enthusiasm and curiosity of a child climbing their first tree and getting a new perspective on a backyard they thought they knew in its entirety. The visceral experience of Alaska will forever be tucked away inside your mind, waiting to rain down and soak over you at any given moment.
When I think of my time in Alaska, I feel it with absolute clarity, as if the scene is replaying behind my closed eyelids, tickling each and every nerve ending in my body. Times in which I wandered through the wilderness one gentle step at a time, thinking of nothing but what played out before me. I remember those walks through the woods more clearly than I remember entire years of my life. The smell of the dampened foliage, the faint chill of the early summer wind, the jagged horizon of mountains, the twittering of the hermit thrush: these are the first things to come rushing back. I feel as if I can reach out and trace them.
The experience of the wilderness in Alaska is essential to the human spirit. We must have a notion of venturing forth and returning to the land. Back amongst the hustle of the industrialized world, sidestepping rushing pedestrians on a city street or stuck in gridlocked traffic on a morning commute, stresses melt away knowing that a piece of you remains in Alaska, and a piece of Alaska remains in you.