“At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.  We can never have enough of nature.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Feeling the awesome grandeur of the wilderness along the old Alaska Highway

Contemplating the mystery of Exit Glacier, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

What is wilderness but untamed nature.  Living in the city, I get my contact with nature in small, mostly tamed doses.  This is good therapy.  But touching the untamed wilderness brings a heightened sense of the mystery and hugeness of the universe, a sense of awe tinged with fear.

I’ve traveled to several of the country’s national parks, but none evoked this sense of grandeur quite like my trips to Alaska.  So much of that vast land is still wild and inaccessible.  I felt fortunate that there were a few roads and cruise ships that could take me to the edges of that unexplored wilderness so that I could stand humbled by the spirit of that wildness.

How lucky we are that there are still wild places to stir our hearts and souls.

 

“Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it.  We need the tonic of wilderness. . . . “
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Vast wilderness on the lonely road from Glennallen to Paxton, Alaska

Mountains near the remote old mining town of McCarthy-Kennicott, Alaska

Holgate Glacier calving into Resurrection Bay, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

“The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
— Richard Louv, The Nature Principle:  Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
— John Muir, from John Muir and His Legacy by Stephen R. Fox

Immersion in Nature is an antidote to the stress of our contemporary lives.  Nature comes in many forms, from well-maintained city parks, to gardens, to campgrounds, to back country wilderness.  I am appreciative of the gifts of nature I find in the city, but I long for travel to the wilds of our national parks and forests.  Those opportunities seem few and far between.

My memories of wild places evoke some of the same restorative benefits of actually being there — winter in Yellowstone, cruising in Glacier Bay National Park, and RVing through Alaska, watching the sun rise from atop a great sand dune in Namibia.  These are just some of the memories I can call on when I feel the need to escape the stresses of my city life.

What are your special wild places?

Glacier Bay National Park

September 11, 2009

My favorite part of our Alaskan cruise was Glacier Bay National Park.  We spent one entire day cruising in this remote and pristine wilderness.  Glacier Bay is accessible only by plane or ship, so I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience the beauty of this gem of a national park.

Here are some photographs that give you a sense of the wonders found in the park:

One of the many glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park

One of the many glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park

Lining up on deck to see the Margerie Glacier up close

Lining up on deck to see the Margerie Glacier up close

Jagged blue ice of the Johns Hopkins Glacier

Jagged blue ice of the Johns Hopkins Glacier

Harbor seal floating on an iceberg by the Johns Hopkins Glacier

Harbor seal floating on an iceberg by the Johns Hopkins Glacier

Shades of blue, Glacier Bay National Park

Shades of blue, Glacier Bay National Park

Sun streams through the clouds, Glacier Bay National Park

Sun streams through the clouds, Glacier Bay National Park