Fragrance in Travel Literature-Alaska

Through the Yukon and Alaska (1909)
Rickard, T. A. (Thomas Arthur), 1864-


Alaska favors a growth tropical in its luxuriance. During the
short summer of four or five months the vegetation waxes riot-
ous. While walking from Juneau to Silver Bow basin during
June I noted that the roadside was already thickly fringed
with white spirea, red columbine, and pink huckleberry; all
the shrubs were ready to burst into bud while still under their
coverlet of snow, flowering before the leaves were out. At
Treadwell the violets had a longer stem and a lovelier color
than the Neapolitan, and with them went a perfume exquis-
itely delicate.


To the east, half-hidden by the trees, is
the old block-house and the new magnetic station ; beyond are
Silver bay and snowy peaks. Behind the town is Swan lake
and Mt. Verstovia, with an intervening valley in which the
experiment farm battles aggressively with the stubborn wilder-
ness. Close at hand the graves with their Greek crosses are
almost smothered by salmon-berry bushes and the rank vegeta-
tion of a brief summer, including the briar rose, now in bloom
and bearing the perfume of other days.

Kingsley spoke of
"ancient and holy things" that "fade to the earth again";
fortunately, the unholy things decay even more rapidly. White
Pass City and its inhabitants are gone, leaving few traces, in-
sufficient to soil the face of Nature. It is a picturesque spot
where several cascades meet joyously; the confident curve of
the railroad belts the hillslope in front ; and far overhead noble
peaks look down in eternal calm; the air is perfumed with
blossom, the murmur of the stream is soothing, the sunlight
suffuses the lush grass. Man's unrest is petty indeed in con-
trast to Nature's imperturbability.


A summer in Alaska, a popular account of the travels of an Alaska exploring expedition along the great Yukon River, from its source to its mouth, in the British North-west Territory, and in the territory of Alaska (1891)
Schwatka, Frederick, 1849-1892

Alongside the
very banks and edges of these colossal rivers of ice one
can gather the most beautiful of Alpine flowers and
wade up to his waist in grasses that equal in luxuriance
the famed fields of the pampas ; while the singing of the
birds from the woods and glens and the fragrance of the
foliage make one easily imagine that the Arctic circle
and equator have been linked together at this point.

Travels in Alaska (1915)
Muir, John, 1838-1914; Parsons, Marion Randall


Gliding along the swift-flowing river, the views
change with bewildering rapidity. Wonderful, too,
are the changes dependent on the seasons and the
weather. In spring, when the snow is melting fast,
you enjoy the countless rejoicing waterfalls; the
gentle breathing of warm winds; the colors of the
young leaves and flowers when the bees are busy and
wafts of fragrance are drifting hither and thither
from miles of wild roses, clover, and honeysuckle; the
swaths of birch and willow on the lower slopes follow-
ing the melting of the winter avalanche snow-banks;
the bossy cumuli swelling in white and purple piles
above the highest peaks; gray rain-clouds wreathing
the outstanding brows and battlements of the walls;
and the breaking-forth of the sun after the rain; the
shining of the leaves and streams and crystal archi-
tecture of the glaciers; the rising of fresh fragrance;
the song of the happy birds; and the serene color-
grandeur of the morning and evening sky. In summer
you find the groves and gardens in full dress ; glaciers
melting rapidly under sunshine and rain; waterfalls
in all their glory; the river rejoicing in its strength;
young birds trying their wings; bears enjoying sal-
mon and berries; all the life of the canon brimming
full like the streams. In autumn comes rest, as if the
year's work were done. The rich hazy sunshine
streaming over the cliffs calls forth the last of the
gentians and goldenrods ; the groves and thickets and
meadows bloom again as their leaves change to red
and yellow petals; the rocks also, and the glaciers,
seem to bloom like the plants in the mellow golden
light. And so goes the song, change succeeding change
in sublime harmony through all the wonderful seasons
and weather.

The morning after this delightful day was dark and
threatening. A high wind was rushing down the
strait dead against us, and just as we were about ready
to start, determined to fight our way by creeping
close inshore, pelting rain began to fly. We con-
cluded therefore to wait for better weather. The
hunters went out for deer and I to see the forests.
The rain brought out the fragrance of the drenched
trees, and the wind made wild melody in their tops,
while every brown bole was embroidered by a net-
work of rain rills. Perhaps the most delightful part of
my ramble was along a stream that flowed through a
leafy arch beneath overleaning trees which met at the
top. The water was almost black in the deep pools
and fine clear amber in the shallows. It was the pure,
rich wine of the woods with a pleasant taste, bringing
spicy spruce groves and widespread bog and beaver
meadows to mind. On this amber stream I discovered
an interesting fall. It is only a few feet high, but re-
markably fine in the curve of its brow and blending
shades of color, while the mossy, bushy pool into
which it plunges is inky black, but wonderfully
brightened by foam bells larger than common that
drift in clusters on the smooth water around the
rim, each of them carrying a picture of the overlook-
ing trees leaning together at the tips like the teeth of
moss capsules before they rise.

Soon after the close of this economical meeting,
we came to anchor in a beautiful bay, and as the long
northern day had still hours of good light to offer, I
gladly embraced the opportunity to go ashore to see
the rocks and plants. One of the Indians, employed
as a deck hand on the steamer, landed me at the
mouth of a stream. The tide was low, exposing a
luxuriant growth of algae, which sent up a fine, fresh
sea smell. The shingle was composed of slate, quartz,
and granite, named in the order of abundance. The
first land plant met was a tall grass, nine feet high,
forming a meadow-like margin in front of the forest.

It was raining hard when I awoke, but I made up
my mind to disregard the weather, put on my dripping
clothing, glad to know it was fresh and clean; ate
biscuits and a piece of dried salmon without attempt-
ing to make a tea fire; filled a bag with hardtack,
slung it over my shoulder, and with my indispensable
ice-axe plunged once more into the dripping jungle. I
found my bridge holding bravely in place against the
swollen torrent, crossed it and beat my way around
pools and logs and through two hours of tangle back
to the moraine on the north side of the outlet, a
wet, weary battle but not without enjoyment. The
smell of the washed ground and vegetation made
every breath a pleasure, and I found Calypso borealis,
the first I had seen on this side of the continent, one
of my darlings, worth any amount of hardship; and I
saw one of my Douglas squirrels on the margin of a
grassy pool. The drip of the rain on the various leaves
was pleasant to hear.

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