A few months ago, I found myself moving beyond my physical and mental limits. Limits I was not aware of until they surfaced and began pushing back and against the space I was within.
After hours squeezed into a sea kayak, paddling from Decision Point to Blackstone Glacier, beneath low, grey and heavy clouds, consistently showering our group, I found myself. Literally, I found the physical body that detached from my mind, wearing layers of shirts and pants, thick wool socks and hat, sleeping. Wrapped in the blue and orange mummy sleeping bag, pressed against the side of the tent, there were no dreams to be had. Exhaustion and the comfort of being dry for a few hours were all that mattered.
Outside, beneath the midnight sky, the wind howled, grabbing every branch and loose corner of the tent, slapping nylon against the ground, rocks, and itself. Off in the muted distance, rolling waves crashed on the rocky shoreline, and kayaks banged against other kayaks. Empty dreams morphed into fear of tents wrapped around trees or kayaks blown out to sea.
I have spent weeks in Alaska, and twice before I gave into the allure and call of the water – to be close, at its mercy and open to its power.
This time was different. This time the Sound won. The sound destroyed any postcard vision of the land, and replaced it with raw nature at its best. And I am humbled and grateful for the experience. I know years from now, when my perception of the events morphs and softens, the speed of the wind, amount of rain, and the 72 hours of being cold and wet, will not seem all that bad. But deep within, in the places not easily found and sometimes hard to explain or understand, my path changed. I changed and I feel different each day – I grew closer to the land, mountains, sea, sun and the energy flowing between all of them.