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Bella – Byers Lake Paddle Trip

by ATJ Posted in I ♥ Alaska, Off the Clock, Only in Alaska |

Craig, the driver for the River Guides, picked up a couple and me at the Tour Desk, escorted us to his van and off we drove to Byers Lake. He was friendly and welcoming and shared stories of last Augusts’ flood damage. We even saw a coyote dash across the road from one side to the other.

At the covered structure where equipment is stored, he and Tim, the kayak guide, provided rain pants, oversize boots, pullovers and life vests, which we clumsily struggled into. Of course, we had to take pictures of each other in our unfamiliar gear. Armed with paddles, we clomped our way down the trail to the water’s edge. The couple boarded the two-seater kayak while the guide and I claimed our single seaters. Although I had never been kayaking, it was easy to pick up a rhythm and a stride for gliding smoothly atop the silken waters.

For me, even though I can be boisterously expressive in my elation, the serenity of floating in the midst of unspoiled nature overwhelms my soul. I am compelled to tip back my head with eyes closed and drink in the regenerative energy. It is at moments like these I become aware of how empty my well has become, and how lacking a profusion of people, noise, and problems are in providing a meaningful resource of life-giving force.

Trumpeter Swans hold reign over their domain; intruders beware; kayakers must steer a wide berth. We vanish from sight, entering a narrow passage between tall water grasses and lush undergrowth leading to an active beaver dam. Fresh gnawed limbs still green with growth add height to the original construction. The beavers hide from our sight. We take pictures anyway. At times I cling to my solitary isolation; then extend myself to our corporate body, and listen to the others’ softly spoken voices. We breathe in and exhale our communal sense of awe of the environment into which we have been transported. Why would we ever want to be anywhere but right here where we are.

My soaring heart returns to earth; time to clamber ashore and to the life I lived before. But I will ponder and contemplate and even meditate on what this privilege means to me.

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