Elsewhere Wednesday: Lowell Point Trail, Alaska (04 May 2010)

Lowell Point Trail near Tonsina Point;
Resurrection Bay State Marine Park, Alaska; 04 May 2010.

While Floridensis is primarily focused on Floridian wildlife and environments, I’ve had the benefit and luxury of living and visiting some pretty spectacular regions across North America. I’ve decided to dedicate Wednesdays on Floridensis to “Elsewhere” locations across North America. Launching us off on our embedded “Elsewhere Wednesday” series is a set of photographs taken on 04 May 2010 along the edge of Resurrection Bay in southcentral Alaska.

From 2007 to 2011, I lived and worked in Anchorage, Alaska. Locals will often chuckle that if you live in Anchorage, you’re only fifteen minutes from “the real” Alaska. What they mean to say is that Alaska is, at its best, entirely wild and somewhat off the grid. This was indeed the case (though I still considered Anchorage to be a part of “real” Alaska, heh). Truly, it didn’t take long to lose cell signal as you sojourned outward from Anchorage and into the rocky climbs surrounding it.

The Kenai Peninsula lays just south of the Anchorage/Turnagain Arm region of southcentral Alaska. If you ever have the chance to visit Alaska, the Kenai is where I’d point you toward. From its lush, moss-laden (though not tropical) rain forests to its salmon engorged streams, from its towering mountains to its rocky coastlines, the Kenai is absolutely jammed to the gill with texture, grit, and beauty. The shorelines of Resurrection Bay, near the edge of the Pacific Ocean, was one such location that consistently took my breath away.

These photographs were taken along the Resurrection Bay coastline portion of the Tonsina and Lowell Point trail systems. Situated a bit south of Seward, Alaska, a tiny town nestled along the northern rim of Resurrection Bay, the trail sojourns the rocky edge of the deep, blue oceanic waters. Towering mountains hold sentry along the opposite eastern shore while innumerable gulls, puffins, and other seabirds flay about just above the deep blue waters.

Of note, the tidal range this far north is quite dramatic. Indeed, to hike this portion of the trail, you have to keep tab of when high tide will hit. Large portions of the coastline trail are only accessible during lower tidal ranges. When the tide comes in, the water will push against the rocky bluffs along the west side of the trail. That’s not something I was used to from growing up in Florida. You had to time your hikes to avoid getting cut off by the Pacific tidal surge.

Another difference: the beach itself. Rather than the white, powdery sands I grew up with, the beaches of Resurrection Bay are defined by dark rocks and dark “sand” — igneous in nature. “Ghost trees” stand unmolested along the edges of the shorelines — trees that once thrived but were choked out by encroaching salt water intrusion due to changing elevations spurred by earthquake activity. In the shallow water, you’ll also find vibrant strands and mattes of algae and aquatic vegetation. The bright, colorful reds and yellows of these alga provide a stark contrast to the iron-black tone of the “sand” itself.

It’s easy to lose your sense of space and time in an area like this. In Florida, time may feel wide at times, but in Alaska time always feels deep. Everything around you is an echo and reminder of just how deep time truly is, how fleeting and temporary our existence truly is. Resurrection Bay, like much of “real” Alaska, is truly sublime in this regard.

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