Emily, Crew, Wilderness Explorer
After two remarkable weeks of salubrious sunshine, the rain is back—and in full force. Its return feels at once both inconvenient and familiar.
We love the sunshine. It feels playful and easy, and lets us avoid damp socks and freezing skiff rides. When the clouds lift in a place like Glacier Bay, the boat feels most alive, reveling in the vastness and grandeur of peaks otherwise hidden by cloaks of gray and white.
On a clear morning in Red Bluff Bay, every inch of water and rock seems to glimmer in the golden light. It takes only a few moments of looking at the trees and exploring the shores to remember that the richness of color and abundance of life that surrounds us here in Southeast Alaska depends on the rain.
I am from the high desert of western Colorado, where most water makes its way down the Colorado River or through irrigation canals to fields otherwise dried by nearly 300 days of sunshine.
I grew up playing on red sandstone and alpine slopes. These past few months on the Wilderness Explorer have given me an entirely new way of experiencing the world. And this past week of precipitation has reminded me that there is much to learn from and appreciate about water.
That both the surface of the earth and the human body are about 70% water is amazing given the molecule’s simplicity: two hydrogen atoms bound to one oxygen atom. And yet, water is incredibly varied and dynamic.
Some of my favorite days are when we experience its many forms simultaneously; Cobalt blue glacial ice, teal silt-rich liquid, snow covered peaks, low hanging clouds, and falling mist.
Today the glossy water surrounding the Magoun Islands looked like rippling sheets of midnight blue. And then the rain came. A burst of torrential downpour that transformed the surface of the water into a blacktop of scurrying ants, a giant boiling pot, or a thousand hurried footsteps.
Other days, the surface of the water looks like rivulets snaking across sand dunes, worn leather, or the wrinkled skin of fruit ripening in the sun. When the sky explodes in color as the sun sets on a clear day, the water captures the pinks and orange and purples and paints them in our wake.
At the Inian Islands, the water is pure liquid turquoise. We drink it, bathe in it, clean with it, paddle across it, scan its surface and shores for signs of whales and bears, and trudge through it in our trusted rubber boots.
The water has taught me, at least, to be adaptable, resourceful, and appreciative. To learn to go with the flow and to be grateful for the rain that replenishes.