Slice of Alaska

A cut above, Sitka’s majestic scenery mixes with colorful history as well as ... resident bears.

Posted: August 7, 2011 at 4:18 a.m.

 Sitka Summer Music Festival cellist Armen Ksajikian plays for the resident bears at the Fortress of the Bears bear sanctuary Thursday, June 10, 2010, in Sitka, Alaska. Ksajikian was inspired by the acoustics at the converted pulp mill clarifier tank and played a selection of music, including a Berlioz piece, for the bruins. With Ksajikian is Les Kinnear director of the sanctuary.

Sitka Summer Music Festival cellist Armen Ksajikian plays for the resident bears at the Fortress of the Bears bear sanctuary Thursday, June 10, 2010, in Sitka, Alaska. Ksajikian was inspired by the acoustics at the converted pulp mill clarifier tank and played a selection of music, including a Berlioz piece, for the bruins. With Ksajikian is Les Kinnear director of the sanctuary.

Sitka plays down its lusty history of saints and sinners. The little Alaskan town that was a gateway to the 1897 Klondike gold rush opts instead for the beauty of snowcapped mountains reaching down to Pacific waters, a sleeping volcano, a summer music festival and sport fishing that reels in enough salmon and halibut to fill the cargo holds of flights back to the Lower 48. All this comes with a rich Russian history and a poignant American Indian heritage.

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Travel, Pages 52 on 08/07/2011