The Moments that Move You
By Allison Sayer, Expedition Guide on the Wilderness Explorer
Every Saturday, the Wilderness Explorer welcomes a new group of excited passengers who have come from all over the world to share Southeast Alaska with us. Some have a lot of questions, and some are not even sure what to ask. We never know exactly what we are going to see during any given week. However, I do like to make new guests a promise: “Each and every one of you will have one moment when you see something that profoundly moves you. But I can’t tell you what it’s going to be.”
The Tongass National Forest has a fern that tastes like candy, and marine organisms create sparkles in the ship’s washroom at night. The forest hosts minuscule orchids, sticky carnivorous plants, and flowers that look like stars drawn by children. You can find delicate “alpine” wildflowers at sea level. Multicolored iridescent marine slugs hide underneath clamshells. Seldom-seen birds sing heartbreaking melodies in voices that sound like liquid flutes. The forest floor is so soft you can lie down on it like a bed. And of course, there are also bears, whales, and calving glaciers.
I can honestly say that my promise to guests - that each week will have its standalone moment - holds true for myself as a guide as well. And, just like for the guests, it is impossible for me to predict at the beginning of the week what that moment is going to be.
What constitutes an extra special moment for me has been all over the map. Is it the sun making rainbows through the breath of a whale? A field of wild irises in the middle of a dense forest? The track of a tiny moose? A massive cedar tree? A nudibranch laying eggs just below the sea’s surface? A hidden crack in a seawall that opens up into a secret, fern-filled cave? A brown bear turning over rocks in front of a massive wall of blue ice? It has been all of those things for me.
Just as rewarding are the moments when guests on our adventures exceed their expectations of what they thought they could do. We offer a lesson for guests who have never kayaked, and many people are nervous at the start of these. I feel moved when I see guests transform from being hesitant to enjoying searching for sea stars as they paddle.
Meanwhile, hiking in the Tongass National Forest is challenging. There are many obstacles to climb over, under, and through. Teamwork is an absolute necessity for a group to make progress through the terrain. I love to witness people who were complete strangers just a few days ago supporting each other, helping each other, and using good communication to move through the landscape.
My work as a guide with UnCruise Adventures continues to give me lifelong memories. It is an incredible privilege to witness the wonders of the Tongass National Forest. It is also a great honor to facilitate people’s connection with this place, with each other, and with themselves.
What will your moment be? Discover Alaska with us and find out.