On Leaving Alaska

In 1879 the great naturalist, John Muir, took a steamship and began to explore Alaska. In the early pages of the journal he kept on that trip, he wrote: “Never before this had I been embosomed in scenery so hopelessly beyond description.”

I understand. I spent most of my last full day in Alaska with my mouth hanging open in slack-jawed wonder and astonishment.

For the previous six days the weather here has been gray and snowy, with low-hanging clouds obscuring views of the sea and of the distant mountain ranges. But today . . . Well, today was different . . .


Grasping the twin gifts of a beautiful day and clear schedule I took the rental car, my camera, and a Garmin Nuvi and headed out of town.

In the morning I took Alaska Highway 1 south and east along the coast of the Turnagain Arm of the Chickaloon Bay. Around every corner, I was greeted by views like this:


And this:


In the afternoon I headed north to Palmer and tried to keep the car on the road while gawking at sights like this:


By the end of the day I was reminded of another entry in John Muir’s Alaska journal:

To the lover of pure wildness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world . . . Chasing shining ways through fiord and sound, past forests and waterfalls, islands and mountains and far azure headlands, it seems as if surely we must at length reach the very paradise of the poets, the abode of the blessed.

It is indeed a wonderful place. God willing, I’ll be back.