The Power of Nature: Lessons from the Kenai Fjords NP
by Claire Marshalek. Kayak Adventures Guide & Member of the Seward Wilderness Collective
There exists a natural phenomenon out in the ocean where many waves traveling at the same speed come together, overlapping and combining to create a single king wave. Their rogue nature makes them nearly impossible to predict, hence their name: sneaker waves. The ocean carries this unconditional power which provokes fear, but the ocean has the power to heal, to inspire, to bring people together.
Today, much like the power of the ocean, many things are out of our control. We can let fear sneak up on us, or we can reframe our perspectives and take time to celebrate what brings us together. At Kayak Adventures, we live in a community that thrives on togetherness. While we are currently worlds apart, we can find togetherness in what inspires us: the natural world. Here are three lessons from nature that can keep us inspired and together in times apart.
All life is connected and communicates
On the deck of the Weather or Knot, a small passenger watercraft traveling through the Kenai Fjords, myself and 6 guests stand listening for the next call. Dropped in the water is a hydrophone which allows the human ear to listen in on life under the waves. An Orca pod swimming right below sends out squeals and clicks. We do not know what they are saying or who they are calling. All we know is that they have a very specific way of communicating, a language that is distinguishable across Orca families. All things communicate. Whether it is the people on deck or the Orcas below, we all have something to say and something to share.
Nothing in Nature lives for itself
The Harding Icefield flows into the Kenai Peninsula dropping ice at its tidewaters in Aialik, Harris, and Nuka Bay. Glaciers provide nutrients to the marine ecosystem, which allows Plankton to Flourish. Floating in front of Aialik Glacier myself and 3 others watch from our kayaks as Aialik drops icebergs to the sea. The release of ice sounds like an orchestrated concerto. On our paddle back to shore, we see Pigeon Guillemots dive below the ice and come up with fish in their beaks. The glaciers provide nutrients for the plankton, which provide for the fish, which feed nearly 190 species of birds for the season. Much like the glaciers, we can support and provide for each other.
Nature is an endless source of inspiration
From sea level in Resurrection Bay, we have a panoramic view of mountains that were carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago. These mountains are so steep that every summer people from around the globe race up the slopes to prove they are almost as powerful as the landscape. The mountains have the power to move people, to mobilize communities. They inspire adventure, exploration, and conservation. Standing atop these mountains, I feel small. I feel grateful for this place, but in the end, it’s not about the mountains I’ve summited or the glaciers I’ve paddled in front of. It’s about who I’ve shared these places with. Nature has the power to heal, to inspire, but most importantly bring people together.