Was very much looking forward to seeing Sitka, the capital of Russian America, after reading James Michener’s Alaska. He told such an engaging story of Alexander Baranov, the real-life manager of the Russian-American fur trading company who came from Siberia to establish some sense of order amongst the Russian sea otter hunters, most of whom were convicts serving life sentences in one of the most formidable environments on Earth. Baranov, a business genius who turned the Company into a Pacific powerhouse, did not do so well by the Tlingit (KLIN-kit) natives. Eventually he took the prized hilltop on the island from them by force, naming it Castle Hill and building his rustic “castle” at the top with spectacular views of Mount Edgecumbe volcano on Kruzof Island across Sitka Sound.
We climbed Castle Hill, now just a paved hilltop, and looked out across the Sound, but views of Edgecumbe eluded us. Even on this sunny day, its head was in the only clouds to be seen.
As we departed Sitka by ship that evening, we happened to dine in the Italian restaurant in the aft end of the ship. As we rounded Kruzof Island and looked up from our antipasti and prosecco, there was the volcano peeking out from behind the clouds. Farewell, Sitka!