• Jainee Dial

ALASKA FIELD TRIP

Updated: Mar 3, 2019


I knew it would be wild here. And I like that word. WILD. Who doesn’t? I named my company after it. There is an out-of-control-ness and irreverence somehow woven into those 4 letters. It’s a tornado of a word, really. What we perceive as ‘wild’ has a romantic connotation of un-tameability; of places and people who refuse to be caged or tempered or conform to the whims of civility. But ‘wild’ doesn’t honor the reality of life here. It’s far too reductive. This landscape and its inhabitants are wild to an extent, yes, but nothing seems out-of-control in the balance between humans and soil, ocean and fisherman. The attention to seasonality and the balanced interplay of Alaskans and their environment is exceptionally intentional and stubbornly harmonious. The gruff boat captains share the same indomitable spirit and pride as the farmers exhibiting their abundant harvest at the Saturday market. One young woman who worked at the Lodge remarked, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. Only bad planning.”



On our last night at the Lodge I was serenaded at the dining room table by our guide, who also happens to be a master violinist. I stared out the window as he played and just beyond the tidepools above the tree-lined forest, the fog danced in circles below a dark ridgeline. Underneath the warm melody of our private concerto, I detected the faint sound of harbor seals barking at the head of the river, oblivious to their human neighbors, making music of their own. He hit a note that took my breath and I flashed back to the pools of blood on the deck of the boat that afternoon, the bright crimson patterns shaped like red lace doilies.


Bounty.

Beauty.

Life.

Death.




To embrace this land is to embrace its harsh beauty. It raises hair on the backs of necks and asks for humility in return. This experience will stay with me forever.




In addition to experiencing the vast beauty, we were also able to learn why the Pebble Mine and extractive development pose such an immediate and existential threat. From the tiniest microorganism, to the massive grizzly bear, we learned and witnessed firsthand, that life here revolves around the salmon runs and we must do everything in our power to protect and foster this last great salmon stronghold. Take action here:


SAVE BRISTOL BAY | WWW.SAVEBRISTOLBAY.ORG


WILD SALMON CENTER | WWW.WILDSALMONCENTER.ORG


Photos by Sashwa Burrous & Dawn Heumann


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