February 28, 2013
On our last full day at Camp Denali, I chose to stay in my cabin while Frank went off hiking and bird watching with our friends. I relished the opportunity to lie in bed and commune with the mountain, which was "out." I had seen it out in so many different scenarios- when I went to the “house out back" in the middle of the night (bright as day!) and it was bathed in a pink alpine glow; or when I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and it was unmasked in its full glory. Some things cannot be conveyed by mere words.
This last day, I had a great breakfast and packed a sandwich and some snacks so that I could just give in totally to enjoyment. Through the window I could see the mountain, with clouds wafting across its face from time to time, and the other times shining in blinding yellow-white light. I napped and ate and watched the mountain some more.
And somehow in the silence a most profound thought awakened in me. It was as if the mountain was transmitting: "You know what? Look at the size of me and the size of you- a little different, yes? Relatively speaking, I am permanent and you are like chaff in the wind, here for a century if you're fortunate. So I really don't need you to 'protect' me. What I require of you and the other humans is that you wake up and recognize where the true power lies. Appreciate the force that created me, that created you and all life, and respect that."
I will carry that thought with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, Alaska!
“The ‘Great One’ Speaks” is an excerpt from Audrey Peterman’s book Our True Nature: Finding a Zest for Life in the National Park System. Audrey and her husband Frank visited Camp Denali in 2012. She is a national award-winning environmentalist. A native of Jamaica and a citizen of the US, she and Frank co-authored the book, Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Treasures and Tells Why Every American Should Care. Since 1995 she has visited more than 160 of the 397 units of the National Park System and is an advocate for their continued protection. For more information on Audrey and her books, visit www.legacyontheland.com.
It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into the special sightings notebook, brush up on Denali National Park issues, read about our ongoing projects in sustainability, and maybe get a whiff of what’s cooking in the kitchens. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.