An immense wetland crowns the top of Cook Inlet, mile after mile of lakes and kettle ponds and marsh. Only 25 to 30 miles from Anchorage, this little visited realm of sedges and grass west of the Susitna River concentrates thousands of nesting birds during the season. It’s so wet, with virtually no solid ground and few interconnected channels, no one goes there in summer except by air. I visited in late August, after the birds had gone, when vegetation was just beginning its color shift. The country seemed austere and quiet, with dark clouds looming over Mount Susitna like harbingers of the cold to come.