Inner Pathway, Alaska

Clouds are stuck in the mountains. Little snow flurries felt this morning. I’m in Haines, a little Alaskan fishermen harbour. The village seems abandoned and I’m killing time as I can, waiting for my next day-ferry. At the end of April, winter is hanging on here in Alaska. In a couple of days however I will be in Victoria, a thousand kilometers down to South. I will lounge under cherry blossoms. In order to reach Vancouver Island’s spring, I board the Inside Passage ferry. A geographical designation that still makes me think of a magical place from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

I’m sailing all day long through the Coast Mountains still covered with snow until I rally Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. I stay there one night at a widow’s house that liven up her life hosting travelers and young Americans coming to study in the region. She shows me the Mendhall Glacier, which ends its life right in the middle of the rich neighborhood.

Back on the ferry, I share my second trip with teenagers hitting the country on a music tour. They are Native college students and they spend the journey singing and playing drums. Landscapes are changing. Mountains, still covered with snow, explode with forests at sea level. After two days of sailing, we can see Prince Rupert. I cross the Canadian border and board my last ferry. Weather is warmer here on the Canadian Pacific coast and snow is now far away. On the deck, I can really enjoy the spring breeze. The rainforest is the only landscape now. Lost in the trees, I can notice some remote fishermen cabins but the coast is mostly uninhabited. I land the next day in Port Hardy. A lovely woman picks me up to the south of Vancouver Island. I wear a floaty dress and the sun warms up my shoulders. I just won three months over the season in just a few days spent on the magical ferries of the Inside Passage.

Anne Aït-Touati

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