Northern Passages | Coming Home to Wilderness
The Murie Ranch has many of the same characteristics as Mt. Vernon – and for me this includes the spine-tingling sensation of person and place, the feeling that Mardy might appear at any time with a plate of her famous crybaby cookies, a frosted molasses treat that she loved to serve to visitors on her “front porch of conservation.”
Olaus Murie became President of The Wilderness Society and, with Mardy at his side and continuing in her own right after his untimely death, he fought tirelessly for the protection of wilderness -- especially for the passage of The Wilderness Act of 1964 and the designation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The mountains make up in ruggedness for what they lack in elevation. We were of course far above the tree line, and open tundra rolled away for miles on all sides as we stuck to windswept ridges in order to have the benefit of firm ground and good walking.
The Waldo Arms is something like a boreal blend of Rick’s Café in Casablanca and the alien cantina in the bar scene from Star Wars. In Kaktovik, you might say, everybody comes to Walt’s.
Even to a budding conservationist, the engineering accomplishment that was evident in Prudhoe Bay was breathtaking. It is a massive operation, sprawling for miles, far beyond the range of a one-hour aerial tour.
It was with mounting excitement that I was thinking about the historical context of the Refuge as I flew out of Fairbanks with Tom, Diane and Brian one August morning in 2001.
By reaching out to the next generation of readers and citizens, books like A King Salmon Journey give voice to these amazing animals and help to ensure that their critical habitat will be preserved.
My personal focus began to evolve away from the tactical objective of catching salmon and trout on a fly rod and moved toward a more holistic delight in the natural world.
Somehow, out of the blue, I hit upon the idea that we should go camping. There was no particular reason or foresight involved in this. I had just made partner in a major national law firm and I had not slept in a tent for at least 15 years.
It was cold, very cold, and often wet and buggy to boot, sometimes all of them at once. What’s not to like?