Little Susitna’s Finale
From its origin as a cataract surging from beneath a glacier in the Talkeetna Mountains to its final, lazy meander across wetlands bordering Cook Inlet, the Little Susitna River is a shape-shifter, a creature of many moods. Over 110 miles, it morphs from a boulder-strewn mountain stream near Hatcher Pass into a popular salmon river suitable for boating and sport fishing. It begins full of wild energy, rushes past rural suburbia north of Wasilla, and ends quietly amid marsh and tide far from civilization. I visited this final, silty reach late one summer evening, when the foliage had begun to turn. Nearing the end of its journey to the sea, the river here seemed tranquil in an empty land, if not a bit lonely. Not unlike old age, it is no longer as attractive as it was in its youth, high in the mountains. It no longer runs straight and strong, but rather meanders slowly and reflectively to its end.