The sum up of last week for me? Let me give it to you in a mock-epic form, keeping with the (somewhat flexible/loose) theme of this being a quasi-literary blog…
- The heroic adventurers: Myself and four other brave souls.
- The setting: The Swanson Lake System in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Kenai Peninsula in Southeastern Alaska.
- The feat: 73 miles. 34 (or so) lakes. 5 days. 4 nights. 2 canoes. 5 dry-packs.
- The archetypal descent to/passage through the underworld: …maybe in the very last hours when we canoed until midnight or so, and it got dark (for Alaska in the summer) and cold and was aining. (Other than that, the weather was fine!)
So you probably get my drift. Basically, I went on a canoe trip this past week to scout out a system of lakes with some pretty neat people that I get to work with over the next few months. I have the opportunity this summer to serve as a wilderness counselor with a summer camp located here on the peninsula. I’m from the Lower 48 (for my uninitiated readers, that means the US states other than AK and HI), so it’s cool just to come up here at all..I’m additionally stoked that I’ll get to see some more of Alaska this summer than I have before through the wilderness adventures in which I get to participate (didn’t want to end that sentence w/ a preposition). I’d like to try and do a weekly (or so) blog post, too, but we’ll see how that goes..summer camp can be pretty draining.
Some highlights include:
- Finding a really decent set of shed moose antlers
- Portaging a canoe for the first time
- Seeing swans in the wild, also for my first time
- Seeing some moose on the last evening
- Finding two cabins two days in a row with decent outhouses..I think this’ll be a summer of learning/remembering to appreciate the simple things. You know-a sort of simplify, get back to the basics sort of time..anyway, I really appreciate clean outhouses.
- Having a biologist along as one of our adventurers-neat to have that sort of resource sitting in a canoe with you as you’re passing through the Alaskan outdoors.
I read Psalm 115 shortly after we got back to camp after our canoe trip; I thought verse 16 highly appropriate, so I think I’ll close with that:
The heaven, even the heavens are the LORD’S; But the earth He has given to the children of men.
What an incredible gift. I’m hoping to grow a lot over the next few years in my understanding and practice of how best to do my part to care for (and so to more fully appreciate) the gift of creation, and not to neglect or abuse it.
Oh, ok, and one post-script: Purely literary stuff. I love how trips like these always help me to imagine some literature and traveling sections of stories that much more. I feel I can empathize better with characters like Frodo and Sam and the other hobbits, for example, during their long trek in the Lord of the Rings, especially the Fellowship. And OT stories about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness? I have a feeling that’s about to take on a whole new level of meaning after this summer…I’ll try and keep ya posted.