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Panoramic view from Port Chatham ridge-top (click image for full-size)

Alaska 2017
  • Territory: Washington State, British Columbia, Alaska
  • Time: May - August, 4181 miles traveled
  • Vessel: "Teacup", Nordic Tug 37
  • Primary Activity: Hiking and kayaking, meeting the occasional bear.

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Port Chatham is in the middle of my route through the Alaska areas I visit, and it has a lagoon that's a terrific kayaking destination (see this photosphere image for an overview of Port Chatham). This year, on one of the few nice sunny days, I decided to hike the land in Port Chatham, even though the terrain is very rugged. After an hour of hiking and brush-busting, I emerged on a ridge top and collected the still images I used to create the panorama at the top of this page. (Be sure to click the panorama image to see it full-size.)

This hike was a typical Alaska hike -- difficult, then rewarding, and a great viewpoint on a ridge that no one visits.

Rain and catching up on reading

There were very few sunny days this year. My theory, no doubt shared by others, is that global warming and accelerated arctic ice melting produces much more water vapor in the high latitudes, which increases the amount of rain in an already pretty rainy place. This meant that, while waiting for sunlight, I was able to catch up on my reading. On that topic, in the midst of maybe 50 books on various subjects this season, I read "The Emperor of All Maladies" By Siddhartha Mukherjee, an absolutely first-rate book on the subject of cancer from multiple perspectives, and a book that won the Pulitzer Prize. I can recommend this book without reservation to anyone who wants to be educated about a complex subject, written by someone who knows his topic and knows how to write.

Because of my age and level of experience I've become somewhat jaded with respect to books meant to inform or educate. On a number of occasions I've had to stop reading a book on realizing I knew more about the book's topic than the author. One example is a book that purports to be a biography of Nicola Tesla titled "Wizard : the life and times of Nikola Tesla" (Marc J. Seifer). I found this book annoying, eventually infuriating, because of its many technical errors, and I finally and reluctantly stopped reading it. The book's author is a distant relative of Tesla, but this isn't an excuse not to hire a technical advisor to correct many serious errors. Among the errors is a passage in which a transformer is described as a device to increase and decrease the frequency of alternating current electricity (transformers change voltage, not frequency). Another is a section on Tesla's idea that electromagnetic fields have a longitudinal component like sound waves, but without bothering to mention that this idea is wrong. A quick look at online Tesla-related content makes me realize that Nicola Tesla is now the (unintended) source for a lot of present pseudoscience including (imaginary) superluminal longitudinal electromagnetic waves, by people who haven't the slightest idea what they're talking about and who have no interest in critically examining their ideas. But the book is meant to be a biography, not a sounding board for pseudoscience. My rating? No stars.

Other activities

I've been spending more time at Bainbridge Island in Prince William Sound (PWS) (not the same-name island near Seattle). Bainbridge Island is sufficiently far from towns in PWS, and PWS is sufficiently far from any significant concentration of humans, that I often have this huge island to myself for weeks at a time. Among this year's articles I describe my increasingly rewarding explorations of this island, by kayak and foot, in particular a long kayak drag to be able to explore an otherwise inaccessible lake.

Mendenhall Glacier, near Juneau, is about to become an isolated (i.e. non-tidal) glacier, because of its rapid decrease in size. Locals say the glacier is now shrinking one foot per day. I cover this issue and recall an ice expedition on the glacier that is now far from the glacier's present position and extent.

I hope you enjoy this year's articles.

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