A Deep Appreciation of the Last Frontier

Visiting Alaska has always been a dream of mine. So when I had the opportunity to go on a work-paid trip for one week, I was ecstatic. The last frontier was calling, and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see it.

I opted to take a glacier-landing flight of Denali National Park. The trip took about three hours and circled Mount McKinley before touching down on a pristine glacier. At more than $300, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and whether my wallet would forgive such a splurge. Still, I justified it by thinking that my trip was, for the most part, paid for, and there are some experiences in life you just have to seize when you have the chance.

The jaw-dropping experience was well-worth it, and would have been had I paid 10 times as much. Cramped into the back of a small, single engine Cessna aircraft equipped with sleeping bags and survival gear, we took off and saw sights that will live with me the rest of my life. Photographs and
videos don’t do justice the majestic beauty of the Alaskan landscape, and especially not of Denali National Park. Peering down at glaciers that seemed so small and so large at the same time, I felt so insignificant in the world (in an awe-inspiring way). This was a feeling that I had experienced only once while at the Grand Canyon.

The landing on the glacier was bumpy and rough as the plane’s skis touched down on freshly fallen snow and the plane glided to a slow halt. There, in a splendid haze of storm clouds, stood Mount McKinley. The natural beauty of the landscape leaves a deep and indelible impression on you, and even more so in knowing that this unspoiled beauty is untouchable by so many people in the world, yet sadly not by the threat of global warming, which promises to change much of the Alaskan weather patterns, and hence, the environment.

I will never forget the truly awesome flight looking down at glaciers that, millions of years in the making, still look like man has never set foot on them. I can imagine many people being on a similar journey in Alaska and having a newfound appreciation of religion or spirituality – Visiting Denali National Park really is seeing nature as God intended it.

C Gillon

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