While Kayaking Glacier Bay, Alaska

While Kayaking Glacier Bay, Alaska


While we don’t imagine you’ve been sitting around waiting to hear from us, we feel it’s been much too long since we’ve said hello. The last time we checked in, it was the beginning of summer and we were preparing for a kayak trip to the interior of Glacier Bay, Alaska. We anticipated it would be an inspiring adventure, but its true impact had a profound effect, leaving us a bit speechless on the subject. This is one of the reasons you haven’t heard from us. We hope you’ll allow us to explain.

Most of us have seen pictures of Alaska. If not from friends or family who’ve been, then in magazines, television shows or movies. Before our trip, when we saw photos, we were struck by the enormous mountains, endless views of virgin evergreen forests, and the impossible shades of blue in the ice and waters. But we also thought, perhaps, the photos were enhanced with a trick of the lens or through software tweaks. But not only was it proven to us that every photo we’ve seen is true to Alaska’s beauty, but they’re actually capturing only a fraction of how breathtaking Alaska really is. Film clearly has limits to how much it can absorb, as it’s hemmed in by its frame and its ability to record just two dimensions.

Another thing we realized – as we paddled near glaciers that boomed like thunder as they calved, and tips of giant icebergs were dwarfed as they floated past mountains that climbed thousands of feet straight up from the water’s edge – is that we humans are tiny. Our party of 10 that paddled for hours to cross just one finger of the bay, and then huddled together in our little village of tents at night – made up no more than a speck on that enormous landscape. Not only were we surrounded by thousands of miles of nature and wildlife, our existence there was but a blip in time.

These thoughts culminated in a metaphor when we noticed a rock riding atop an iceberg as it drifted by. We thought about when and where its journey started. The stone likely formed thousands of years ago, as it was scraped from the side of the mountain. Cradled inside the ice, the glacier flowed between the ridges of the surrounding mountains, until eventually, it reached the edge of the massive glacier and calved into the bay, carrying this rock with it.

Eventually, the solar gain of that dark rock melted away the ice in the iceberg – just enough for us to spot it as it floated by our kayaks. It’s likely we are the only human beings who would ever see it. Considering its journey, it really put into perspective our notion of how important we think we are, and how ultimately we know very little about the space we inhabit. While we’ve experienced this sensation before, this time it was overwhelming. And it was humbling in the best possible way. It was enormously freeing to come to this realization, awakening in us a better understanding of our role in our little corner of the world.

So this is why you haven’t heard from us in awhile. Not only have we been given perspective on the ways we fill our time and space, but it’s difficult for us to find the words to describe such a profound experience. Maybe it’s best we express ourselves through our art. 

Caption: Our niece, an intrepid guide, takes in the view of our first glacier sighting

Caption:  Icebergs beached on shore during low tide

Caption: Rocks embedded in glacier ice

Caption: Kayaking towards Johns Hopkins glacier, at the base of Mt. Abbie, elevation 8750 feet

Caption: While camping near Johns Hopkins Glacier, the sound of ice calving sounded like a continuous thunderstorm. While we were unable to see the icefall at this distance, the waves from the splash would wash ashore about 15 minutes later.



  1. Incredible photos of your kayak trip in Glacier Bay! What an experience.

  2. Caryl Rae Hancock on November 14, 2017 at 2:32 PM

    Wonderful shots, and thanks for sharing your experience and perception!

  3. Anita Taylor on November 14, 2017 at 2:39 PM

    Would love to see tiles of Alaskan scenes. Our daughter lives in Anchorage and has two OR mountain landscape tiles hung in her son’s nursery.

  4. Scott Mason on November 14, 2017 at 4:13 PM

    The photo of the blue kayaks all pointing toward the glacier is superb! At first I thought it was an abstract composition, not an actual photo. I am so glad you captured it for us to see.

  5. Suzy Johnston on November 14, 2017 at 4:24 PM

    What visceral and vivid memories!

  6. Pat Peckham on November 14, 2017 at 5:44 PM

    Those pictures are framable.
    What a memorable trip!
    Thanks for sharing your work.
    Pat Peckham

    The Hewitts love the painting they bought.

  7. Kathy on November 15, 2017 at 3:36 PM

    From a sister who also was on the trip – L&L captured the sense of might and awe of the Glacier Bay landscape. I contrast that with experiences of the past 3 days while working in Hong Kong. What a world we inhabit!

  8. Helen Brown on November 15, 2017 at 9:39 PM

    Thank you, Lisa and Lori, for sharing these photos. A once-in-a-lifetime-experience! You had to be hearty!

  9. Claudia on November 16, 2017 at 8:20 PM

    What an amazing trip! I bet you have new inspiration for your art! Thank you for sharing with us.

  10. Eileen Safford on November 16, 2017 at 8:56 PM

    Your pictures are stunning! I’m so grateful you shared them.

  11. Linda Jorgensen Jones on November 17, 2017 at 2:55 PM

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story and great photos. I have been to Alaska 4 times, latest was in August. However, viewing the glaciers from a cruise ship is different from your up close and personal experience. Inspirational to say the least.

  12. Donna Taylor on November 19, 2017 at 6:49 PM

    Hi Lisa and Lori! The photos are GREAT! I can only “barely imagine” the unbelievable VASTNESS you saw and FELT as you beheld the ice and water IN PERSON!!! In your first photo the top 3/4 of it looks like a stunning watercolor painting!!! I’m thrilled that the two of you were able to join in such a remarkable and, surely, unforgettable adventure!!! D

  13. Alison Banks on September 6, 2019 at 5:40 PM

    Your work is amazing!

  14. Kathy on August 30, 2020 at 10:37 PM

    Reminiscing, another ‘yaker on this trip. Your prose renews the awe of the experience.

    • Lisa & Lori on September 8, 2020 at 12:58 PM

      Kathy, your comment caused us to reminisce too. Never will we forget that week – a place of such great vastness, giving space to contemplate the essence of life.

  15. Robert Marvos on September 5, 2020 at 10:19 AM

    dear Lori and Lisa,
    Your metaphor about the rock is most apt. I am 82 and a log-time backpacker in the Sierras in California and elsewhere. That experience of seeing something no one else may ever see is, indeed, breathtaking — to deeply feel one is part of the whole fabric of being is humbling.
    Thank you for putting it into words.
    Here is a haiku I want to share with you. I was unable to post the photo accompanying it

    Full moon this morning
    over snowy three sisters.
    Air, crisp and chilly.

    With great respect,
    Bob Marvos

    • Lisa & Lori on September 8, 2020 at 12:42 PM

      Bob, thank you for sharing this gift of writing with us. You captured a moment in the mountains, as well as the feeling of connectedness, beautifully. May we always have the ability to see and feel it this way. With appreciation,
      Lisa and Lori

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