SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – September 2007

The Impact of Climate Change on Florida's Everglades, Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias

What do Florida's Everglades and Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias have in common? Both face uncertain futures as temperatures rise.

by: Tom Clynes

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The next day, I kayaked out to North Nest Key, a trip that promised (on paper, at least) seclusion and Caribbean-quality water. But I spent my outgoing journey dodging drunken powerboaters, then listening to competing stereos as revelers partied the afternoon away on North Nest's beach. Later, I drove back through the Keys, running a gauntlet of cell-phone towers, screaming billboards, Winnebagos towing SUVs, and road-construction projects that scientists have blamed for a recent rash of toxic algae blooms.

The fact that much of this ordeal took place within the national park's borders should tell you something about the frontcountry Everglades experience. But now, in Hells Bay, I am alone in the backcountry, hanging in a hammock and surrounded by water and trees and blue sky. As the sun begins to smolder on the horizon, two dolphins swim past, splashing and chasing each other's tail. The sun goes down quickly, leaving me submerged in an overwhelming silence, under a sky dotted with cool, bright stars.

I became a father at the age of 43, a little late in life. I had reported all over the world, and I had seen enough of the consequences of greed and desperation up close–genocide in Rwanda, assassinations in Colombia, Ebola in Uganda–that I found it difficult to overcome the paralysis of pessimism. In particular, I found it hard to believe that any world my offspring might inhabit would be worth living in.

But I had also experienced the flip side of human folly, in the many generous, undaunted individuals I have gotten to know–people who believed they could make the world better, for humans and for nature. Having children was, for me, a tremendous acquiescence to their optimism. It has also turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.

Our oldest son, Charlie, is 4 now, teaching his younger brother, Joe, how to chase frogs and butterflies around our backyard. But in Vermont, we can see the changes; the average winter temperature in the Northeast has risen 2.8°F since 1971. Summers are rainier, the ski season is shorter, and the maple sap doesn't run the way it used to.

One of the great joys of parenthood is the chance to share outdoor experiences with your kids. I'm guessing there's still time to bring my boys to the Everglades and the Wrangells. But what about their children? Will they be able to paddle through these shadowy, jungled passages, and walk among these magnificent glaciers? From what I've seen so far, the odds are not good.

On the second day of my Alaska hike, I wake with an energy I haven't felt for some time. The world might be crumbling under the weight of humankind's ham-handed machinations, but here I feel nothing but the unfathomable space of blue sky, the press of the mountains, the sharpness of the air in my lungs.

Millen and I break camp, strap on our crampons, and head across the Root Glacier, a river of ice that flows into the Kennicott Glacier just before its terminal moraine. Snapping and cracking all around us and under our feet, the glacier feels very much alive. We skirt glacial ponds of unimaginably blue water, and dodge the crevasse-covering remnants of winter snow, knowing that a careless step could make us part of the history of this place.

Coming off the Root Glacier's western moraine, we walk through ankle-deep mud at the transition zone, then up a steep hill and onto the scree slope leading to Mt. Donoho's saddle. Upon topping the scree, we bushwhack through thick underbrush, choking on clouds of alder and willow pollen.

Over the next two days, we push through a landscape that very few Americans ever have the chance to see, a landscape whose scale can be appreciated only on foot. We go from glacier to moraine and moraine to glacier, crossing striped highways of ice and rock and chaotic hills of Marslike rubble, feeling the catabatic winds go from cold to warm in an instant. We spot grizzlies and marmots, ptarmigans and eagles; we hike into the alpenglow, crossing streams and tightrope-walking sharp arêtes, treating blisters and setting up camp as the last of the sun reflects off the high snowfields.


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Gerda
Sep 25, 2011

I have a question
is there a invisible line on earth and does earth only turn one way

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Stop me if you've heard this...
Posted On: Jul 25, 2014
Submitted By: desert dweller
Gear
Do you use a PLB?
Posted On: Jul 25, 2014
Submitted By: High_Sierra_Fan

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions