Inside Passage: Living With Killer Whales, Bald Eagles, and Kwakiutl Indians (Adventures Unlimited, 1997)

Inspired by Robinson Crusoe and Jack London, Michael Modzelewski (Season 1, Episode 98), jettisoned all baggage accompanying life in the comfortable middle class and set out to find raw, unharnessed wilderness. He found it on Blackfish Sound (“Blackfish” is the Kwakiutl Indian word for the killer whale) in the Inside Passage, the rugged coastline between Seattle and Alaska.

Leaving his home in Aspen, which had become a false Shangri-La for him, Modzelewski settled on a desolate island in the Inside Passage, a place which “after seducing you with beauty would shake you with fear. An unpredictable place that kept you always prepared, honed to the keen edge of life.” Here he lived alone for months on end.

Inside Passage describes his experiences in this unspoiled setting, where the sky is his ceiling, mountains are his walls, and physical challenges test him down to the marrow. He also forms unusual friendships with passing yachters, salmon fishermen, Kwakiutl Indians, loners, and the owner of the house he is staying at, Will Malloff, a man of oversized personality — a healer, builder, woodsman, and thinker. Modzelewski writes with a love for nature and gentle humor about his interactions with the native animals (eagles, whales, wolves), local animals (cats, dogs, “tame” wild boars), and other settlers.

Inside Passage is the powerful story of one man learning the ways of self-reliance in a soul-filled search through the northern wilderness.

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