Alaskan Birding Trip – Epilogue

It has been almost 24 years since the journey yet as I write this it seems like only yesterday. All that I remembered comes rushing back like the fast moving glacial streams. The experience we all shared together will always be with us and in our memories.

I can still see all that I told you about: such vivid pictures that no camera could ever capture. There are no words that can adequately describe the Alaska I saw. It is a land of gross hyperbole.  A land of adjectives and metaphors and still not enough to paint the picture. When I close my eyes and relive what I have seen and felt it is only then that I can in some small way understand this land.

On a day in Denali we climbed a ridge near the Savage River. Higher and higher we climbed and the wind became stronger, Finally near the top I stood alone high on this ravine catching the full force of nature’s breath. With arms outstretched and eyes closed tightly I wished, oh how I wished I could fly. To soar with eagles and ride the thermals, to sail in the wind. To be free!

"With arms outstretched and eyes closed tightly I wished, oh how I wished I could fly. To soar with eagles and ride the thermals, to sail in the wind. To be free! " photo of hiker by Paxson Woelber

“With arms outstretched and eyes closed tightly I wished, oh how I wished I could fly. To soar with eagles and ride the thermals, to sail in the wind. To be free! ” photo of hiker by Paxson Woelber

I remember standing on the cliffs on St. Paul. It wasn’t simply about the birds flying, the seals bellowing, and the foxes scampering over the land. The pyramid of life was there. From the oceans where it began to the cliff top where in us life has evolved to its highest end. In this intricate web of life we are all equals. We are not only related but need and depend on one another in order to sustain life itself. Let us never forget this bond.

As in all my trips I view my trip to Alaska as a privilege. A special privilege that makes me appreciate what has been given to me. The gift of seeing life as Mother Nature intended it to be. The beauty of the land and its flora and fauna; the daily struggle of life and death; and finally the birth of those that will offer the same view to others for eons to come.

We are not only guests to nature’s theater, we have roles in all of the plays and all the acts. But remember we are only co-stars on this the stage of life. We must make sure the curtain never closes on this show. The Greatest Show on Earth.

You only make the journey once so do everything you can to make sure your journey is rewarding not only for you but those that you will meet on your journey. Live the journey now , for every doorway that opens is a destination to a new journey.

Never the end just the beginning.

Gerry Cooperman

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2 Responses to Alaskan Birding Trip – Epilogue

  1. John Snell says:

    What a delight to read this and to see the photo! I made my first trip last year, with an old AK veteran, and these words capture much of my sentiment. To stand near the Denali Highway and watch a Jaeger rise up and over the tundra a half mile away, finally swooping right over head, is a memory I’ll have until I’m truly an old man.
    BTW, not to be commercial, but my “old vet” pal and I will be giving the Clarke Lecture at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier on March 15 about our trip, not so much a travel show as our impressions about what we can learn in Vermont from the AK wilderness.

  2. Gerry Cooperman says:

    Dick,
    I cannot thank you enough in how beautifully you added to my story. Your pictures made my words come alive. I hope all appreciate your efforts.

    Best personal regards,
    Gerry Cooperman
    Marstons Mills, Ma.

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