Glaciers are rivers that flow at my preferred pace. I feel safest in slowness and this cramponed walk melts away my highway haste. It is for glaciers that I’ll return home. For this abundance of moving water, carving out the landscape that defines my Alaska, these rivers of ice are power, are majesty in mass.
And in geologic time, fading fast.
We cross the Root Glacier to our Nunatak* camp below Donoho Peak. A Nunatak is just a mountain, but in this thawing epoch it is still encircled by eddies of frozen water.
Sometimes I suffer from nostalgia for times in which I never lived: California before the Gold Rush, the real Wild West. And then I consider my home, the North, the warming climate, the last remaining glaciers, their blue disappearing and soon. And I know that my people will witness the last of this great ice age. That I am one of the lucky ones, who was born in the right place. Who lived at the right time.
And though this may not be seen as lucky, and we can all lament the anticipated tragedies of climate change, I have an uncanny hope for metamorphosis. In evolution there is revolution-
For it is now. It is this millennium when we have the tools and knowledge and power to explore, to understand, to carve a future landscape imbued with the grace of ancient glacier blue.
For humans are of nature too. And our presence on ice, in the wild, only accelerates our own evolution as earth-bound beings of compassion and understanding.
There is power trapped in glacier blue, and even in a valley lower down, where the ice hasn’t been for centuries, one can feel the pulse of what once was. Here on the Root, I am overwhelmed with something extra-dimensional; of the past and of the future. Out of time, I am more than my presence here on this frozen floe.
Stepping off a lateral moraine, we arrive at the base of Donoho Peak. And with some kind of relief, I resume being human again.
*Technically, our camp was not on a Nunatak, as there is a chossy knife-edge isthmus that separates the Kennicott from the Root glaciers and connects the summit pass of Donoho Peak to the giant skyline of Mount Blackburn behind.