Roll On! Discovering the Wild Stikine River by Bonnie Demerjian

Roll On! Discovering the Wild Stikine River - Photo by Alaska VistasIf you can’t visit the Stikine River soon, experience it through Bonnie Demerjian’s book Roll On! Discovering the Wild Stikine River about the great river.

Alaska and Canada’s Stikine River is one of the great trans-boundary rivers found threading its way through the coastal mountains of Southeastern Alaska and British Columbia. A friend of mine, Bonnie Demerjian of Wrangell Island, Alaska has written a comprehensive guide to the Stikine, describing it path from its headwaters in the Spatsizi Plateau to waters of the Pacific Ocean at the river’s delta.

Roll On! Discovering the Wild Stikine River

A River Rich in History – The book is perfect for current and future fans of the great river. Wrangell and the Stikine were some of the first parts of Alaska visited by John Muir who called the river a “Yosemite 100 miles long.” The Stikine saw prospective miners travel it in both the Cassiar gold rush of 1873 and Klondike rush that followed in 1898. Boaters of all sorts will love the river, opportunities for rafting, canoeing, kayaking and powerboating abound. The river navigatable by powerboat some 160 miles (257 kilometers) from its delta near Wrangell to Telegraph Creek in British Columbia.

River People – The Stikine has shaped the lives of many people that have lived on it or visited it. Sidebars and narratives of the River’s people abound throughout the text. They tell the stories of people like Tlingit Elder Marge Bird, Steamboat Captain John Irving, Rancher Nancy Ball, Tahitan Elder Francis Gleason, River Rat John Ellis, Explorer Andrew Jackson Stone, and of course, Naturalist John Muir. Bonnie ties the stories of the River’s people to its wildlife.

Rich in Plants and Wildlife – Demerjian, a long time resident of Wrangell Island, details the natural history of the river. She describes its denizens, the plants, mammals, birds, amphibians and fish that make their living in or on the river and rugged country that borders it. The book offers valuable, detailed information on the regional flora and fauna.

River Recreation – The Stikine region is an outdoor recreational delight. Provincial parks or wilderness areas protect much of the River country. These reserves include the Stikine River Provincial Park, Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park, Mount Edziza Provincial Park, and Stikine-LeConte Wilderness. Key landmarks along the River are described in the text. Bonnie offers boating safety tips, locations of campgrounds, a primer on the classification of rapids, and how to rent a Forest Service cabin.

Bonnie Demerjian speaks of the River in her concluding remarks saying, “The Stikine too, has its quiet backwaters, but stand on a sandy bank as that swirling, rain-swollen river bites and swallows the ground near your feet and you might, instead, encounter something very different – the tangible power and unreason of chaos.”

Roll On! Discovering the Wild Stikine River (ISBN-10 0977679209) is published by Stikine River Books and sells for $31.99. The book has an extensive bibliography, a list of suggested further readings, an appendix of river related resources and subject index. Photographs are provided by Wrangell’s Ivan Simonek.

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Copyright © 2013 by Alan Sorum

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