Austin Marvel | The Glaciers ARE Melting
When I was up in Juneau, Alaska late autumn of 2019 I had no idea what the next year was going to bring.
If only I could go back in time, I'd probably of slept a lot less! What an experience it was to create this image, my bush pilot told me to expect a very bumpy ride as we were going over a lot of canyons and mountain tops getting crazy winds from different cold fronts and warmth meeting directly on our flight path. The little Cessna plane packed down with our luggage and gear had only the pilot and I riding up front on a blue bird day. We had some headphones on that had a microphone so we could easily speak over the noise the engine was making. I hate airplane rides because of some traumatic past experiences but for some reason I felt safer knowing that I was next to the pilot, sitting shotgun keeping an eye on things. As we continued through our ascent into the heavens we got deep into conversation about how few people really understand how much our climate is being changed. Being a native to the area, he was able to bring a perspective from his childhood how these glacial waters have changed, the patterns in wildlife have changed, the birds, fish and people have all sort of adapted to the new norm. As he continued telling me how people were bad and by nature, nature is the only good...I zoned out and just started looking out the window. We approached the most fantastic colored water feature I had ever seen. The whole nine, had to wipe off my camera lens, blink a few times and slap myself to ensure that what I was seeing was real. As we banked so the airplane could avoid hitting a mountain peak...we began to descend down on what he referred to as his favorite glacier. The bush pilot looked up from his controls and looked me dead in the eye. He told me that humans were essentially killing his childhood best friend. The glacier. Eagle Glacier to be exact. As we dropped even lower he just went silent and let me enjoy the window seat and process his story/thoughts that I was half listening to. I realized that what he was saying had come from his heart, I saw there was a tear dwelling in the corner of his eye which was why he looked away from me and went quiet. It was then that I knew I had to begin capturing what was so captivating about a river running pouring into the sea. I did not realize how impactful that 45 minute flight conversation would be in my life. Those words and stories stick with me. When I finally got back to the lower 48 and began to process all of my images this one was in the back of my head. I was going through about 1,000 gigabytes from this photo assignment searching for the shot. Finally when I found it, my body just kind of froze and it was almost as if the image grew a face, greeted me and told me we were going to be best friends for life. I knew it had to be printed. So as soon as I could, I ordered an original of this image to have in my workspace. This image keeps me on track every day. Reminds me that we are not in control. The river pushes on, the water keeps moving. The natural world will reset itself as soon as it doesn't have an overbearing amount of humans influencing its health. All we can do here and now is live every single day as if it might be our last. The kingdom is closer than we think and it's artwork like this that can remind us of our place on the globe.