I’d spent years watching the sun set on a skyline of volcanoes, orange light streaking across Cook Inlet and into the windows of my home, twenty-six miles up the coast in the village of Seldovia. So why not walk there? Why not walk even farther? Why not begin at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula and end at Cape Douglas? Why not swallow the entire glorious outline of Alaska’s Cook Inlet?
It was, of course, an outlandish plan. Anyone in their right mind might have pointed out the bears, the tidal currents, the quicksand, or the storms. Or that eight hundred miles is actually quite far, and two-year-olds are actually quite heavy. Or that four-year-olds are not known for their straight-line hiking speed and that humans invented motorized transportation for a good reason. But no one bothered to point it out. Our friends knew us too well….
(from Mud Flats and Fish Camps: 800 Miles Around Alaska’s Cook Inlet by Erin McKittrick)
For centuries, the swirling waters of Alaska’s famed Cook Inlet have lured explorers seeking furs, fish, fortune, and freedom. Rimmed by active volcanoes, remote fishing camps, oil refineries, bear-riddled wilderness, and the state’s largest metropolis, Cook Inlet offers a stimulating mix of big wilderness and big money.
Mud Flats and Fish Camps chronicles a family’s journey as they hike and paddle the 800-mile coastline of Cook Inlet, and adventure with both risk and whimsy—swirling tidal currents draw the family’s rafts into a pod of spouting belugas; four-year-old Katmai transforms himself into a woolly mammoth during a spring blizzard; endless tidal flats threaten with quicksand; wild cliffs are pounded with surf; and a cast of colorful characters helps them along the way. Erin weaves her modern-day expedition with the stories of English explorers, Russian fur traders, Native fishermen, and American homesteaders, sharing the larger history of the inlet. This is the journey of an ordinary family stepping into the wild outside their door, an inspiring tale of choosing to walk a more adventurous path.
Erin McKittrick is an award-winning writer who has walked, paddled, and skied more than 8000 miles through Alaska’s trackless wilderness. She is the author of A Long Trek Home, Small Feet, Big Land, and My Coyote Nose and Ptarmigan Toes, and is a regular contributor to Alaska Dispatch News. She lives in Seldovia, Alaska with her husband, two children, and a lot of camping gear.
Mud Flats and Fish Camps: 800 Miles Around Alaska’s Cook Inlet is published by Mountaineers Books, and available in paperback and electronic versions
Erin’s website: www.groundtruthtrekking.org