Printer Friendly

Alaska: Northwest Passages.

The Inside Passage is Alaska as most of us imagine it: 10 million acres of forest that contain at least 25,000 brown bears and perhaps 15,000 bald eagles. Such wildlife and scenery would be enough to attract a sizable number of visitors, but it's the accessibility of stupendous blue glaciers that's created a kind of second gold rush to the region each summer.

Glaciers created the Inside Passage during the Great Ice Age, some one million years ago. They receded between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago to reveal straight, sheer-sided fjords now frequented by a burgeoning number of Inside Passage cruises. Today the glaciers still expand and contract in primordial fashion, but this time with plenty of human spectators on hand, arriving by boat, plane, or helicopter, and even--at Mendenhall Glacier outside Juneau--by driving right up in a rental car.

In between glaciers, cruise passengers can busy themselves espying bald eagles, pods of orcas (killer whales), and humpback whales that point their tails skyward before disappearing underwater. Docking is frequent, too: along the way the visitor discovers Indian crafts, Indian dancing, Russian dancing--the human element that cannot overshadow the natural beauty, but complements it.

After all the various stops to sample Indian, Russian, and pioneer cultures, after all the whale sightings and the petroglyph rubbings, Glacier National Park is the cumination of each Inside Passage cruise. Glacier Bay is a feast for all the senses. The eyes water, the nose chills; the air is odorless, clean--the smell of snow.

The only sound is the cracking of ice as a glacier calves. The ship's captain cuts the engines, and the passengers do nothing but float and listen. they leave feeling that they've experienced an earlier time when the world was newer, more violent. The Inside Passage has given them not only a look at Alaska's man-made story but also a rare insight into the formation of the earth itself.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:O'Keefe, M. Timothy
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:illustration
Date:May 1, 1989
Previous Article:Juvenile periodontitis: no laughing matter.
Next Article:Fairly good ways to see the south.

Related Articles
Something fishy going on: Fish Expo 1994.
American West Steamboat Company Announces 2007 Alaska Cruise Schedule.
Bering Strait Crossing: Asia to Alaska?
An elusive passage emerges.
CYCA announces $28,000 membership promotion.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters