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Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Alaska Inside Passage 

During the day, the ship entered the sheltered waters along the coast of British Columbia, and the ship rocked less. We glided along, past Price Rupert, trundling ever northward and toward another time zone. We are now 650 miles from Seattle, where we started.

The 30-foot wave experience makes these 10 foot waves seem like a kiddy pool. No, actually, you can't even walk down the corridor, the boat is pitching so much.

The days grow longer and longer, now with only four hours of darkness.

posted 2:34 PM

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Leaving for Alaska on 30 Foot Waves 

My ship departed from Seattle, on its way to Alaska. We glided along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, seeing the Olympic Mountains rising from the Olympic Peninsula. The partly cloudy sky meant a few rays of sun warming my back as we motored toward the open ocean.

But this delightful beginning to the journey didn't stay that way....you know it's bad when the sea becomes so rough that the swimming pool on the top deck is actually losing all its water because it's sloshing up and outside the confines of the pool. And so it was on our first night at sea -- thirty foot waves that had the ship lurching and lunging, completely submerging my portal. A couple times, and I am not kidding, the ship pitched down so abruptly I actually got air, like a skateboarder sailing off the top of a half-pipe. Seasick bags were stacked in every corridor. It was a rough night.

Toward midnight, I crossed the swimming pool deck as waves waged like tsunamis inside them, the deck coursing with water. Rain-battered workers tried to place nets over the surfaces of the pools.

posted 2:35 AM

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Crossing from Bainbridge Island 

I left Olympic National Park, ready to make my way toward Seattle and the port from which I leave for Alaska. Bainbridge Island, Washington, covered in pine forests, lay misty in the rain as we drove through its darkening streets. I arrived at the ferry at dark. From the observation deck, I watched the approach of Seattle, leaving behind the silent, dark islands of the Olympic Peninsula for the twinkling, almost magical lights of the city. The Space Needle rose strikingly from the cityscape, the lights gleaming out over the water. Seeing the city like that, so quiet from a distance, twinkling over the dark waters, lent it the appearance of a fairy city, a magical citadel in the forest.

posted 3:06 AM

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Return to Hurricane Ridge 

Today I returned to Hurricane Ridge and decided on the Hurricane Ridge Trail, which climbs through steep wildflower-covered meadows. Purple and white flox, vivid scarlet and orange Indian paintbrush, sapphire larkspur and purple lupine covered the green slopes.

As I hiked, the cool wind whipping from the steep valleys below, twice I spied black bears meandering on nearby slopes, searching for roots and tubers. One of the bears, exhausted from his effort and climb, flopped down in a patch of snow, panting on his side before resuming his forage. The trails are still very snowy here (in the photo below, see the trail heading off to the right).

Black-tailed deer, unafraid of humans in this protected area, passed solemnly by me on the trail, walking mere feet away. The rich scent of pine and crisp mountian air filled the wind, that specific and sweet smell of the subalpine zone that I love so much.

Clouds drifted and filled the valleys far below, sometimes revealing a peak, othertimes veiling one. Clouds whipped by around me, enveloping me in ethereal mists.

posted 10:36 PM

Off On A New Adventure! 

I'm on a new adventure, this time through the Pacific Northwest, then up to Alaska. I'm camped in Olympic National Park, right on a roaring white water river. The view is amazing.

In this park lies Hurricane Ridge, a subalpine zone overlooking the jagged, glacier-laden peaks of the Olympic Mountains. I've been longing to return here to hike. In June, snow still lingered on many of the hiking trails that leave from this gorgeous spot.

I decided on the Summit Trail. Many clouds filled the valleys below me, sometimes making it seem like I stood on the edge of the earth.

A snowshoe hare munched on some greenery and then darted across a snowfield. The sun set behind the mountains, creating alpenglow, that amazing rose-colored light, which bathed the mountains in the east.

posted 10:32 PM

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