If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, and Part III. Where did we leave off last? Ice Giants. Ice Spiders. Crampons. And Cassidy was about to defy gravity, which is what you do when you’re in Alaska!
I didn’t follow him up. I know. Right?? It actually wasn’t fear-based. Well, it WAS fear-based, but it wasn’t the fear of falling off and getting hurt. I knew this was safe. It was the fear of spazzing out and flailing from a rope and needing to be rescued, but not before becoming the comedic fodder between the tour guides later that night. It was the fear of not getting it. Sometimes, I’m directionally impaired. Is that the right term? I generally know when something isn’t going to work, and that happens when I don’t have the confidence NOR the interest. And to be honest, it took a really long time to set up the rope for Cassidy and I really wanted to go out and find some Ice Giants. Cassidy said, “You have to go up!” And I kept exclaiming that I had zero interest in it. Then Nick (guide) cracked me up by using funny metaphors and analogies for how disinterested I was, but sadly, I don’t remember them. All I know is that I had zero interest in this. If my life passes me by, and I never do this?
So then Cassidy shimmied down like someone who shimmies down ice hills a lot, and then we were FINALLY all on safe, solid ground. We could just lie back and enjoy the view. Right? Well, wrong! For one, I really wanted to sit down and take an ice nap, but apparently even in 65-70 degree weather, that can cause hypothermia after too long. I also wanted to take my crampons off and hurl them into one of the abyss puddles of everlasting sadness, but they were kind of saving my life.
The most heartbreaking and fascinating thing you can really talk about on a glacier – of which we saw and/or traveled quite a few – is that they are receding at an alarming rate. Nick told us about where the start of the glacier was years before, and it’s sobering. There’s also the fact that things can change BY THE DAY. By the minute. We certainly saw ice chunks falling off before our very eyes. Nick described paths that were safe the previous week and not then. Or that were not safe the previous week, but which we were now treading. I had to wrap my head around that one a million times over, and I may have even had an existential crisis or two. I HATE those. I try to have my existential crises once every five to ten years. In the least.
I was so adamant about going to Alaska, NOW, mainly because I had the money and I hadn’t had a honeymoon. It was also the fear of everything changing and it never being quite like this again. It could get better, yes, but we’ll find out next time.
We’re probably at the point in the story in which I can lighten it back up and tell you that Nick took pictures of us, among the sleeping Ice Giants, and I think Elsa was there too, but sometimes I wonder if I’m actually Elsa, so there’s that too?
I kept looking ahead and thinking, “Oh HELL no.” Then Nick would cross the divide or gap or bridge or tunnel or small mountain, Cassidy would then follow, and I’d do it with relative ease – with no help at all – in the beginning, anyway.
There was only one wall that needed a rope to climb up and down. I said, “NO” quite firmly. They asked again and I said it again. Then I totally went up anyway without a second thought and without trouble. Boy, the air up there!
I watched Nick demonstrate and I watched Cassidy do it and I knew what I had to do but my brain wasn’t reaching my feet, and I fell spectacularly twice. On the ice. And at the time I worried about hypothermia, even while hanging down off a glacier to a rope and to my poor guide. I was reassured about the hypothermia, but my brain would NOT tell my feet what to do. My hands did some of the work and Nick did most, and Brrrr… even in 65-70 degrees, that ice is cold. I want to tell you that I survived wonderfully but I had bruises on my butt and my arm and they took nearly all of the trip, or all of the trip, to fade.
And what’s next, do you think? What happens after hanging off part of the world? Obviously you have to get yourself down, and then more down, and then across, and then down, until you’re on that dirt that is still actually over ice, and then until you’re actually off the ice and wondering, “What’s next?” Let me tell you – SPOILER – it’s not disappointing. There are cold beers and cold ice creams and cold tongues and warm rain and warm rainbows and warm hearts. Oh, it was GOOD!