Into the Blue Unknown
When I was a child I lived on a small farm outside of a small town in a small region of the United States. It didn’t take long before I became comfortable exploring the miniature wildernesses that lie between the fields and started becoming curious about new sections of the world. I quickly fed this curiosity with adventure stories; Swiss Family Robinson, Peter Pan, Call of the Wild. My parents bought me books about mystifying locations all with pictures and stats of terrain and wildlife to help my imagination move from sketch to portrait. As I’ve traveled in adulthood I’ve always felt my imagination come alive in the jungles and plains, the cities and villages, the mountains and canyons but there is one environment that did not match that of my presumed vision, glaciers. A glacier to me was a thing of history; a giant ice cube left in some prehistoric tray that slid and melted just to leave clues to modern man. As a child in Iowa they were not real. Now with two glaciers in my front yard I’m well aware of how bunk my assumptions were.The truth is, even after flying over, boating below, or sitting beside glaciers I still could not fully imagine what these massive ice sheets were actually like. It wasn’t until I finally stood on one, just two years ago, that I finally experienced the seemingly static but eternally turbulent landscape that glaciers really are. To stand on a glacier, for me, is more like standing on Pluto than any terrestrial topography. The peaks and valleys, rivers and waterfalls, pits and caves are all more diverse than the flat, plain ice cube I’d imagined as a kid. The frozen waves, worn into the ice by the wind, sun and water, roll and crash over the glaciated valleys. The pops, cracks and pings heard through the day are unique to these frozen features and a reminder that not even these unhurried expanses are immune to persistent change. As surreal as the surface of glaciers are, the interiors are still more unearthly. Glacier caves are bizarre tubes of brilliant blue as the sun penetrates the ice all around. The walls are patterned with the ripples of the currents that formed them. Suspended in the walls are remnants of the timeworn valley. Each cave has its own unique quality that reflects the forces enacted. Off shooting chasms creating mazes under the ice. Wandering through the majestic halls born from minor fissures marks a place in time since collapse is inevitable. There is a risk with that inevitability. Every cave crumbles to a canyon. There are typically signs so safety precautions must be taken. The idea of the worst happening is enough to get the heart racing before ever entering a cave, but the baffling backdrop is enough to distract you once entered. Then my heart always races for a completely opposite reason.
Each time I go something new is discovered; something worth carrying my camera. The weather worn wonderland offers my lens unworldly features, unique lighting, and new frames to view my home. Blue softbox portholes with a character all their own cast a lightness of the new on my reality. As grey streaks begin to populate my hairline it is nice to be reminded there is always something worth discovering… and for me that may be synonymous with documenting.