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November 22, 2000

Travels In Alaska

Travels in Alaska takes readers on a trip to Alaska through the vivid descriptions of the author, John Muir. The book is based on journals Muir wrote during his visits to Alaska in 1879, 1880, and 1890. These chronicles of his journey relate his observations of nature, glaciers, and the many people he met. Traveling on foot, by canoe, and dogsled Muir experienced excitement discovering unfamiliar types of lands and animals. Each summer Muir and his new found Presbyterian missionary friend S. Hall Young accompanied by Tlingit Indian guides launched extensive voyages of discovery in a thirty foot canoe. John Muir was a naturalists who loved to go to wild places and experience the wonders of nature.

Chapter One of Travels In Alaska is inspired by the beautiful scenery Muir writes in his boat in route to Puget Sound. He describes the scenery, weather, and hospitality shown to him by the individuals he met during his journey through the Alexander Archipelago to Fort Wrangell and Sitka. Also, a man named Mr. Vanderbilt offered John a room and a place at his table. The Vanderbilt family occupied the best house in the fort and this is where he found a real home; with the chance to go on all sorts of excursions as opportunity offered.

Muir\'s steamer goes first to Sitka, then on to Wrangell. The Klondike gold rush was yet to begin, but John heard of twenty-eight miners who had just gone from Sitka into the Yukon to prospect. The next summer he came across and interviewed a number of the original twenty-eight miners in S.E. Alaska in Sum Dum Bay. While in Wrangell Muir was adopted by the Stickeen

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tribe, and given an Indian name (Ancoutahan) that means adopted chief. Being adopted by the Stickeens was a excellent safeguard while John was on his travels among the different tribes of the archipelago. No one belonging to the other tribes would attack him, knowing that the Stickeens would hold them accountable. Muir also describes feasting and dancing at Chief Shakes blockhouse, and experiencing the most beautiful sunset he had ever seen.

The 350 mile Stickeen river was the beginning of the route to the Cassiar and MacKenzie gold fields. Steamers could navigate the first 150 miles to Glenora and old Hudson\'s Bay trading post; and sometimes another 15 miles to Telegraph Creek. Muir describes the river by its superb canyon, magnificent cliffs, and mountains with glaciers and waterfalls. John explains the failed attempt to sail the steamship Cassiar to visit the Chilcat tribe. However, he did some glacier walking after the Cassiar had to turn around and describes the glacier thoroughly. Nevertheless, John embarks on a second trip up the Stickeen River. John hikes far into the interior with a partner named Le Claire who told him many stories of his adventurous life with Indians, bears, wolves, snow, and hunger. On John\'s return trip he met several groups of Indians on the move, going north to hunt. Furthermore, Muir enjoyed his inland side trip.

Muir sets out from Glenora to climb Glenora Peak and describes the sweeping views of the almost infinite space of the Coast Range. During the exploration of the Stickeen Glaciers, Muir does extensive glacier walking making many scientific and artistic observances. John Muir was determined to go as far north as possible, to see what he could. On October 14, 1879, John Muir and Mr. Young left Wrangell. Using Vancouver\'s chart, they generated a journey more than eight hundred miles long. Muir and Young stopped at many villages and camps along he way. With one or two exceptions, all the villages expressed their willingness to receive them. After

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visiting the village of Hoonah Muir and Young crossed Icy Strait into Glacier Bay. Camping on the beaches of the Grand Pacific Glacier he describes the sunrise against that Fairweather Range. Vancouver\'s chart showed no trace of Glacier Bay that they had discovered. The Chilcats are the most influential of the Thlinkit tribes. While with the Chilcats, Muir and Young had five meetings, each of them delivering speeches. They began to feel quite at home in the big block house with their hospitable Chilcat friends. However, due to the dawn of winter and other worries they decided to