Saturday, March 05, 2005

Stikine River @ National Geographic Magazine

Stikine River @ National Geographic Magazine: "What do you call an unforgiving land whose beauty can be fatal? The people of the Stikine River Valley call it home."

Someday I will visit Canada's Stikine River Valley in remote British Columbia. Nearly 30 years ago I made my way up the Inside Passage along BC's west coast in a 26-foot cabin cruiser. My partner was a 65-year-old crusty fisherman. We left Seattle bound for a summer of fishing in the waters near Excursion Inlet, Alaska, in the panhandle of SE Alaska.

A few years ago I renewed my interest in this remote area with a reading of the fascinating memoir by Edward Hoagland: Notes from the Century Before: A Journey in British Columbia. Hoagland, who John Updike calls "our greatest living essayist", in this book first published in 1966, recounts his explorations and encounters with the people of and around the Stikine River.

More recently I engaged with a wonderful account of a couple who kayaked the inside passage from Glacier Bay to Seattle: Byron Rick's "Homelands: Kayaking the Inside Passage". Also, Jonathan Raban, as he tooled around the inside passage in a motorized canoe and muses on Captain Cook and other historical personnages in "Passage to Juneau: A Sea and its Meanings". Speaking of Captain Cook, beckoning on my bookshelf waiting to be read is "Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook has gone before" by the irrespressible Tony Horwitz. One of my all time favorite books is his "Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War": his account of a wild and woolly whirlwind trip through the South.

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