It’s now September and we’ve left the outer coast; we’re in outside waters, but once again in familiar surrounds.

This is a short stretch, but it includes two of four communities on Chichagof Island. Together, they top 100 residents.

The south end is hemmed by steep granite walls that rise abruptly above timberline. Many find this inlet oppressive, even ominous. But there’s a slow joy to it. It is new stone, pushed up along the fringe of the ring of fire. It’s youthful geology positively kicking up its heels.

As we sail north, mountains moderate. We spend several days in a cove at inlet’s end and visit its overlooking muskegs—peat bogs of tough and wizened diversity.

Cross Sound opens on the Gulf of Alaska, but a short hop sees us into a more sheltered stretch, shielded by another span of islands.

Then a stop to visit old friends and await conditions.