Whether it's cross-country skiing, hiking the glaciers, or finding the source of a water supply, Laura Wildenborg doesn't forget how important water is to her life.
This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for the Stories from Main Street project, an initiative created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service for its traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."
"With my job we are using water in all its different forms - from snow for skiing - cross country skiing, to ice for ice climbing, ice fishing, paddling among the glaciers in Alaska. We have taken students up there and have seen the tight water glaciers tapping off ice into salt water and just paddling among the ice and hearing it snap, crackle and pop as you are paddling through–feeling like you are in a big bowl of cereal. Another part of it, is when we are out, we have to constantly be thinking about what is our water source when we are on a camping trip. So as we are planning our trip out, is it backpacking and you are up on this ridge and you have to go downhill to go pump water or if you are winter camping and you are just going to collect snow and boil it.
What is that best way to treat that water, what is the source of it, can you drink it straight from the source, sometimes that is your option and you want to take advantage of that because that is one of the coolest ways to experience water, from its natural source, drinking it. I went on a hike in the Grand Canyon over the summer and it was a really long, hot hike and I ran out of water towards the end. I was like I could save this for the trip back or I could go to this point that we are hiking up to called the Thunder River and it is just shooting out of the side of this Canyon and they have no idea where it is coming from.
It’s got to be an aquifer, but you are actually hiking up from the river to get to this point, so it is shooting out at you and you are thinking this is so beautiful and some of my friends decided not to drink it straight from the source. They felt like they needed to treat it first and I went for it and I drank it and it was cold, clear and delicious and I did not get sick and I was really happy about that."