The Only Kayak, Kim Heacox, 2005

A book on the Alaska cruise reading list, I found this to be a beautiful meditation on nature, friendship, the environment, and wilderness.  Haecox moves to Glacier Bay, Alaska after growing up in Spokane and going to college in Montana, and becomes a National Park Ranger.  He falls in love with Glacier Bay, its people, wildness, isolation, beauty, silence, and fragility.  We meet his dear friends, Richard Steele, Melanie whom he marries, Michio Hoshino a world class wildlife photographer who loses his life to a grizzly in Kamatchka in 1996, Hank and others.  We learn the story of Joe and Muz Ibach and visit their lonely summer cabin in Reid Inlet, still standing 50 years after it was built.  We experience the tension between the fishermen and their livelihood and those who wish to keep Glacier Bay pristine and a protected fishery, between the loggers and the old growth forest lovers, between the cruise ships and those who want the old Alaska.    We learn about John Muir and his travels in Glacier Bay in the 1880’s and 1890’s.  Haecox does a wonderful job of infusing all of this potentially dry stuff with lively and photographic language.  One wishes to someday be the only kayak on Glacier Bay, at least for just a little while.