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Monday, October 11, 2010

Do Alaskans Have Less Hubris When It Comes to Nature?

This afternoon, the rain let up for a little while, long enough to take a walk on the Flume Trail near my house. It has been raining hard for several days, and the water in Gold Creek that runs next to the trail was so loud that I seriously thought a jet was flying overheard. Waterfalls had appeared where none had been before and those that always flowed had swollen considerably. And a couple of those waterfalls brought debris and water down off the mountain across the trail. The water, instead of flowing under the flume, now was flowing over the flume, flooding the trail. All of this change had happened quickly - in a few days - as it often does in Alaska. The power of nature is constant here: torrential rain, high winds, snowstorms, ice, earthquakes, and now the effects of global warming. 

Almost everyone has at least one story of a hike or fishing expedition or camping trip that, due to lack of preparedness, almost ends in disaster. I think it does make us more respectful of the elements. Hubris leads to risk taking, and in a place where the weather can change in an instant, risk taking can have tragic consequences.  I have a hard time leaving the house without a jacket even when it is sunny. I wear ice grippers in the winter. I listen to the flight attendant describe emergency exits as if I have never heard it before. I don't take much for granted. Does it mean Alaskans don't make stupid mistakes? No. What it does mean is that we pause long enough to remember the time we came to grief because of not being prepared - and then we take precautions. Today, I paused, remembered, and still didn't wear my rubber boots. Should have, I guess...

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