The most surreal experience I've had as a photographer to date was kayaking around the glacial icebergs of Bear Glacier Lagoon in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.
I booked a water taxi with Louis at Alaskan Coastal Safari and he set up a kayak and dry suit rental with Ron from Backcountry Safaris. The water taxi was scheduled with the high tide and after about a 45 minute ride across Resurrection Bay I was dropped off on an empty beach. I set a GPS waypoint and then proceeded to hike to Ron's basecamp and kayak cache. After about a mile or so I saw the kayaks and met Ron and his black lab at their basecamp on the hill. Ron is a very kind and knowledgeable man and he hooked me up with a red kayak and other essential gear. I then made camp on an island in the lagoon and stared in wonder at the world around me.
The view from camp was often obscured by heavy clouds full of rain, but in the moments between the near constant coastal showers I was blessed with a surreal scene of great Alaskan beauty.
When the rain stopped, the lagoon glassed out and perfectly reflected the glacial ice that had broken off of Bear Glacier-- 4 miles away. The icebergs cracked and popped as I glided by in the kayak. It was as if the ice was alive. Other sounds that I heard were the distant waves, the birds, my paddle, and the thunder of the icebergs breaking. That was a scary sound. Thunder through the silence. A portent of the dangers to come.
I didn't see another person-- other than Ron-- for the three days I was out there. The solitude was profound. I had a lot of time to think about what we are doing to the earth. I could see the effects of climate change right in front of my eyes. Often what I photographed in the morning was either gone or completely transformed by the afternoon. And after a week of near 90 degree weather and smokey skies that covered most of the entire state, climate change became very real to me. It was an incredible experience, and it impressed upon me the need to fight global warming. To physically feel the difference of being near to a glacier and it's cooling qualities was startling. The water that poured off my paddle froze my hands. The temperature difference on the lagoon and at camp was striking. The experience added a physical understanding to the intellectual. The need to lower the earth's temperature, to combat climate change became mind-glowingly obvious.
2.7 degrees Fahrenheit is the current goal. To lower the temperature of the earth 2.7 degrees. If we consider the earth to be a living organism then just think how much a difference 2.7 degrees would make. Think of us. As humans, when we have a high temperature lowering it 2.7 degrees can mean the difference between severe illness and recovery. So too for the earth. Just work to lower the temperature 2.7 degrees and glacial melt will slow. Future generations will have an opportunity to live on a healthy planet full of nourishment and beauty.
To see more images from Bear Glacier Lagoon, please view the online gallery Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.
If you have any questions about this awesome adventure-- outfitters, logistics, gear, etc...-- please contact me via the comments section below. Mahalo!
A quick note on the camera set up that I used while kayaking-- Because it rained almost constantly while I was on the lagoon I used my Canon 1 DX Mark II, exclusively. While I packed my Canon 5 DSR I never used it for fear of water damage. Likewise, the 16-35 wide angle lens was difficult to use because of rain and spray constantly getting onto the lens. For this reason I used a 70-200 with it's long lens hood for the majority of this three-day, kayaking adventure.
Thanks for reading.