Wrangell, Alaska is frontier country by Barbara Edwards

On to Wrangell.

House in the Narrows
House in the Narrows

Traveling up the  Narrows we pass a single house on an island mid-stream. The feeling of isolation is overwhelming. What person would spend time so far from everything? I have thought about light-house keepers, but this is different. A home so far from people.

The Narrows slip between rows of mountains. I know they are broken onto individual islans, but it’s hard to find the breaks.

Mountain view in the Narrows
Mountain view in the Narrows

Clouds hover low and sometimes I think its another mountain range, but it disappears. The sun is shining in a spotty manner.I can see it reflectied on the forest in one area and another it looks like it might be raining.


The forest is changing. More exposed rock, fewer trees. Still steep. A tiny strip of exposed beach along the shore.

And tow whales close enough to see but not photograph.

Snow caps the mountains more often than not. The breeze is chill.

We drove aboard in Ketchikan and backed into the front space to leave first. The ship id twenty feet below the dock and we drive up this steep ramp to exit. I’m nervous at heights and this is narrow.

Wrangell is a small place. Of  course I couldn’t find the campground even though I have to maps so I ask directions. The men laugh and say take a left then go down the road. It is easy to find the city camp ground. It’s on a small shelf above the water and the view is breathtaking. Wrangell reminds me of New England fishing villages. I  hope they don’t think that’s an insult since they’re very independent here. It has the boat repairs places, marinas filled with a variety of fishing vessels and the processing plant. The shore is the most noticeable. Broken black shale, boulders and driftwood logs are predominant. It looks like rough walking, but I’ll do some later. This is not a cruise town. The stores cater to the locals with a few for tourists that have real handmade items.

At the visitor’s center I find my local stone. Garnet Ledge is a boat ride across the bay in the national forest. Only kids are allowed to gather the garnets. They use hammers and chisels to pry them from the rock. They are imbedded in micashist, sparkly grey stone almost as pretty as the garnets. They had a variety of sizes but i got one still in the micashist. I’m not going to say what I paid or everyone would take a trip just to get them. The lady at the center recommended a place to grab lunch explaining we should split the plate since the servings are huge. She was right. I spoke to a local at the next table about her research on four generations of Tlinglits and the problems collecting stories from the older generation. I wish her good luck since it’s an important project.

In the evening we’re unwinding. Bill is complaining about the persistent rain and there is a knock at the door. The camper next door, a fisherman, brought us a platter of Dungeness Crab legs. Oh my. What can I say? They were delicious. It would have cost us a lot to get them in a restaurant and we had enough to stuff ourselves. Even Keeno got a couple bites. Fresh from the water, steamed and eaten, the flavor is indescribable. I’ll never have anything as tasty again.

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Author: Barbara Edwards

Riveting Romance with an Edge

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