Michael Modzelewski

Inside Passage: Living with Killer Whales, Bald Eagles, and Kwakiutl Indians

Inside Passage
Inside Passage

The Inside Passage is a real dream country. Modzelewski’s enthusiastic tale of his adventures on a wild northern island will inspire dreamers and doers alike.” – William L. Sullivan, author of Listening For Coyote


A unique blend of scientific fact with the genuinely mystical, Inside Passage provides the reader with a glimpse of the inspiration of nature and the grand adventure of the wild.” – HarperCollins
Following in the footsteps of a father who played professional football would undoubtedly be a dream many young men would pursue, however for Michael Modzelewski it was the allure of the wilderness rather than the gridiron that held fascination. After graduating from college, Modzelewski met a true wilderness pioneer, Will Malloff, who led him to an island in the Blackfish Sound in the Inside Passage, the coastline between Seattle and Alaska. In Inside Passage: Living With Killer Whales, Bald Eagles, and Kwakiutl Indians, Modzelewski chronicles the adventures of an eighteen month stay on this island. Modzelewski writes, “On a wilderness island, to a great extent you relinquish control. Nature rules. It forms the questions that you must answer to survive.” Modzelewski not only met the challenge to survive, but also became immersed in the mysticism of the land, the inspiration of nature, and the satisfaction of thriving in the wild.

With Malloff away for long periods of time, Modzelewski often faced months of solitude. During his first interval of seclusion, Modzelewski was challenged by an island native, a Kwakiutl Indian who told him, “You college guys are all the same — loaded down with knowledge but no wisdom. You won’t survive here. I’ll be by next time to pick up your bones.” When, on his next visit, the Indian found Modzelewski alive and well, the native unofficially accepted Modzelewski into his world and introduced him to the myths of the Kwakiutl culture.

Along with challenges from the Indians came encounters with the wildlife of the island. Surrounded by killer whales, bald eagles, wolves, bears, and cougars, Modzelewski experienced firsthand the majesty and potential danger posed by each creature. Several unique experiences with such animals, including an inspirational exchange with a bald eagle, led Modzelewski to discover that “life often assumed the reality of myth.”


Book Reviews:

Inside Passage Book Review – By Amy Tan

Inside Passage Book Review – By The Seattle Morning News Tribune

Inside Passage Book Review – By San Francisco Examiner

Inside Passage Book Review – By The Nature Book Club

Inside Passage Book Review – By Forbes Magazine

Inside Passage Book Review – By Caroline Ceniza Levine


To order a personalized, signed copy of Angeles Crest or Inside Passage, please state your name, address and the book you would like, and send a check or money-order for $20.00 (USD) + $2.00 shipping (within US), Total: $22.00 to:

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Seacrest Villas. 1810 New Palm Way. Suite 410. Boynton Beach, FL 33435 USA.

*A portion of profits will go to The World Wildlife Fund to aid their efforts in saving endangered species.


21 responses to “Inside Passage: Living with Killer Whales, Bald Eagles, and Kwakiutl Indians”

  1. Publisher's Weekly Avatar
    Publisher’s Weekly

    Inside Passage provides a fine vicarious adventure for readers who cherish the wilderness.

  2. Booklist Avatar

    Modzelewski ingeniously expresses his joy in solitude, snow storms, stars, and interactions with animals. Writing an alone-in-the-wilderness book is becoming almost a rite of passage… an interesting reflection of our times.

  3. the Vancouver Sun Avatar
    the Vancouver Sun

    Michael Modzelewski lived the Great White north fantasy most only dream about. Inside Passage is a fascinating book that blends adventure, natural history, and mysticism.

  4. San Francisco Chronicle Avatar
    San Francisco Chronicle

    Inside Passage offers a rare glimpse of wildlife and humanity in tandem.

  5. Sonoma Index Tribune Avatar
    Sonoma Index Tribune

    A magnificent book, in which Michael performed the white man’s equivalent of the Native American’s Vision Quest.

  6. Wilderness Trails magazine Avatar
    Wilderness Trails magazine

    Modzelewski writes with the disciplined eye of a poet yet occasionally runs wild with the enthusiasm of a lover finding the Eden of his dreams. Inside Passage provides the reader with multi-layered adventures… A must for all who love the wilderness.

  7. Joel Hirshhorn, Two-time Academy Award winning Composer Avatar
    Joel Hirshhorn, Two-time Academy Award winning Composer

    The closest I’ve come to adventure is writing songs for such films as ‘The Poseidon Adventure’. But after reading Michael Modzelewski’s magnificent book, Inside Passage, I felt a desire to experience new environments and faraway places firsthand. Modzelewski’s brilliant vignettes and characterizations catapult a reader into the center of his experiences.

  8. Galen Rowell, one of America's preeminent wilderness photographers Avatar
    Galen Rowell, one of America’s preeminent wilderness photographers

    Like Jack London, Michael Modzelewski is a master story-teller, who entertains us with fast-paces tales of youthful quests in the northern wilds. However, the gold is not elusive here. Nuggets begin coming in the first pages, because the search is not without, but within. As London wrote parables for the taming and destruction of the natural world in his day, Modzelewski now gives us one for its salvation. He walks in with city-youth swagger and leaves us with the soul of an Aldo Leopold or Barry Lopez

  9. M.F.K. Fisher Avatar
    M.F.K. Fisher

    The unknown is as likable as the known… All I can do now and forever is be glad that I know Michael Modzelewski and can know his book. It’s all true which is the best part.

  10. Jennifer Carter, Emmy award-winning producer Avatar
    Jennifer Carter, Emmy award-winning producer

    A modern Robinson Crusoe, Modzelewski invites us to abandon our safe, constricting routines and open our hearts and minds to unforgettable adventure.

  11. William L. Sullivan, author of "Listening For Coyote" Avatar
    William L. Sullivan, author of “Listening For Coyote”

    The Inside Passage is real dream country. Modzelewski’s enthusiastic tale of his adventures on a wild northern island will inspire dreamers and doers alike.

  12. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Inc. Avatar
    Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Inc.

    Living on a deserted island has always been a dream for people searching for answers. Sometimes it has to be an island to keep one focused. For others they need only to lose themselves in a great passion. If you can do both and write about it like Modzelewski has done with Inside Passage, you’re bound to come away with some clear directions for your life.

  13. The Literate Traveller Avatar
    The Literate Traveller

    When Michael Modzelewski decided to leave behind the comforts and hypocrisies of middle-class life for solitary island living, he didn’t choose a palm-fringed atoll in the South Seas, but a desolate rocky outcrop in Alaska’s Inside Passage, on which he spent 18 challenging, fascinating and life-enhancing months. The view from a cruise ship was never like this.

  14. Backpacker Magazine Avatar
    Backpacker Magazine

    …Modzelewski met the challenge to survive, immersed himself in the mysticism of the land, and survived months of solitude and encounters with killer whales, bald eagles, wolves, bears and cougars.

  15. Canoe Magazine Avatar
    Canoe Magazine

    What separates Modzelewski’s tale from other damn-civilization-I’m-off-to-sow-oats-in-the-wilds tomes is the quality of the readers’ vicarious experience… He spares us smarmy mysticism and pontification about the problems of the world and lets the spirits of the raw wilderness, glory, pathos, and irony.

  16. Cleveland Plain Dealer Avatar
    Cleveland Plain Dealer

    …Mystic and spiritual, Inside Passage tells how Michael Modzelewski was drawn by those paired attractions to British Columbia’s Swanson Island, about as close to wilderness as anywhere in North America. Modzelewski observed the ways of Orcas and Indians. He learned to sense his surroundings and trust his senses. He found a model in a man named Will Malloff and a personal totem in a bald eagle… If hearing about someone’s exploration is your cup of tea, you’ll love this book.

  17. Takoma News Tribune Avatar
    Takoma News Tribune

    …. A journey not unlike those taken by Indian youths whose passage to manhood requires them to go alone into the wilderness, undergoing hardship until they have an experience that establishes their linkage to the universe.

  18. Arizona Republic Avatar
    Arizona Republic

    Modzelewski writes with unabashed enthusiasm of the people he met and the place he grew to love.

  19. Barbara Myers, BBC - Radio, World News Service Avatar
    Barbara Myers, BBC – Radio, World News Service

    Inside Passage is a beautifully written story of nature, courage, and adventure; and the debut of a splendid new writer soon to be famous around the world.

  20. Nancy Pearl, author of More Book Lust Avatar
    Nancy Pearl, author of More Book Lust

    Michael Modzelewski’s Inside Passage tells of a solitary sojourn while learning the ancient alphabets of sky and wave, season and inner wisdom.

  21. Anon Avatar

    Michael, your book touched my heart. I read it and sat and stared at it for over an hour, then read it again. When my best friend came to town we talked about you and the book. Shortly afterwards his grandfather was put into the hospital. I spent several long weeks reading Inside Passage to him, even though the doctors told us he was unaware of anything, incapable of any response. He responded to your book. He opened his eyes, reached over and took my hand and tried to smile. He died less than an hour after I finished reading him your book. His last hours were spent sharing your great adventure, not dwelling on pain and fear. He slipped away after a squeeze of my arm, with tears of joy in his eyes. We buried him with my copy of Inside Passage. What you gave Grandpa and me will be cherished forever.

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