I come by my sense of adventure honestly. My parents are always moving. They are constantly exploring new places and live in a constant state of change. They instilled in me a curiosity for newness and for challenge. It is one of the driving forces behind everything I do.
When it comes to celebrating birthdays, I figured for the Dad who has everything and is always looking for a thrill, why not get him something that we can experience together. Helicopter ride over the Fitzsimmons Mountain Range in Whistler? Sounded good to me!
I signed us up for a 45 minute midday flight with Blackcomb Helicopters. In talking with our pilot, I learned that when they're not touring, the company spends most of their flight hours assisting with search and recovery emergencies such as avalanche rescues and missing persons. Life-saving pilots are pretty cool in my books!
The world below us was a blanket of white, so bright and deep that is appeared to glow blue in places. We flew over steep peaks, marshmallow forests, and smooth slopes tempting the most daring of skiers. Looped around the jagged Black Tusk mountain peak, a distinctive beacon even buried in snow. We spend so much of our days staring down at a screen, at our footsteps, it was a rare treat to be able to gaze down on such spectacular scenery. It reminded me that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, a good thing to keep in mind when we let the many small stresses of everyday life overwhelm us.
At one point, conversation turned to climate and how glaciers that have been shaping our environment for centuries are starting to retreat. The pilots that have been flying these peaks for years may not see each inch that disappears year over year, but they have noticed the landscape changing.
There are a lot of Climate Change critics out there that would like us to believe that everything is fine, but it's hard to debate something that you can watch disappear with your own eyes. There is so much information out there on the subject, it can be difficult to grasp! This National Geographic article discusses the impacts that shrinking glaciers are having on our world, such as the loss of fresh water, salinity of our oceans, loss of coastlines, extreme weather, and more. The scariest thing about it all seems to be the comparatively rapid rate at which these changes are occurring.
"Things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime...Scientists point out that sea levels have risen and fallen substantially over Earth's 4.6-billion-year history. But the recent rate of global sea level rise has departed from the average rate of the past two to three thousand years and is rising more rapidly—about one-tenth of an inch a year. A continuation or acceleration of that trend has the potential to cause striking changes in the world's coastlines." - National Geographic
Our planet is amazing at adapting, but it can only do so at a rate that is natural to it's ecosystem. Nature's systems are closed loops, they don't create waste that they cannot deal with, something that we as humans unfortunately cannot claim of most of our production systems.
These thoughts became all the more pertinent when we touched down on a glacier to experience it's beauty and complexity firsthand. Getting out into your natural habitat isn't only about viewing it's awe-inspiring vistas, it is about appreciating what we are fighting to preserve. Staying in tune with our ecosystems keeps us mindful of our own lifestyles, reminding us that we are not only experiencing this Earth for ourselves now, but are borrowing it from future generations.
Getting an aerial view gave me a higher perspective on the type of beauty we are working to protect. It was also a great way to connect with my Dad and experience something new together. My family has always taught me that making adventure-filled memories together is important, a tradition I am happy to carry on!