Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trekking the Alpine Sea

Just back from a visit to Sitka, part work part play, and seeing old friends along the way.  Sitka lures me on a sunny day with its mountain peaks, blue bays and and green isles and islets.  The cloudy days aren’t bad either though the moss and the weathered wood  and rusting metals tells us this damp climate is one to be reckoned with.   This is not a place where it rains often; is a place where it rains consistently for long periods of time, which is hard on structures, tools, and psyches.  Maybe this is why the personalities we encountered were strong, rich, and varied. Natural selection. Sitka is place where only the durable can truly thrive.  

Sitka, once Alaska’s capital, is perched on the beach of Baranov Island facing Sitka Sound, rich in sea life and partially protected from the storms of the gulf by Islands like Kruzof with it’s extinct volcanoes.  Here the salmon trollers spread their fishing gear like the wings of great water bugs crisscrossing surface of the sea and long liners plumb the deep.   The history is extant here, brimming with tlingits, Russians, rogues and warriors, while the modern day streets and paths are littered with tourists, artists and classical musicians packed in this fishing town on a beach already crowded with salmonberries and trees squatting in the moss like giants. 

 Sitka sits where the mountains and forest hug the sea like walker’s sharing an umbrella.  Like Seward, these coastal mountains rise out  the ocean with the abruptness that has made visitors disembark from cruise ships and ask what the elevation is.  For our part, the mountain-perched houses gave us a view of Sitka Sound nearly everywhere we went, and on the water we could truly see the mountain vistas.   When one lives where I do, it takes a pretty dramatic view to turn my head, and Sitka Sound has that.  One day we toured an island home and sailed, wing on wing, across the sound, the next day we disappeared into the towering forests of spruce and hemlock to up the mountainside where the alpine vistas called.  We were turned back by time, knowing there is always more to see, leaving trails unfinished to lure us, as the people do, back to Sitka on alpine sea.  

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