Attu & Aleutian Islands

Jun 26, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

We have made it to the westernmost point in the United States! (Sort of.) The island of Attu is part of the Aleutian island group most distant from the continental United States. We have traveled very far west to get here, but because it is also across the 180th meridian at a longitude of 173 degrees and 11 minutes east, we are also the furthest east that we could get in this country. Make sense?

The weather here in Attu was spectacular. Calm with enough low cloud to provide “atmosphere” but not enough to obscure the snow-streaked mountains. We even had a few minutes of sunlight.

We landed at a beach near one of the few roads that still crisscrosses this island from the World War II era. We walked up to a series of interpretive plaques and a monument that reminded us of the operations which took place here in 1943 when the ally forces landed and fought the Japanese to reclaim the island. Amidst the World War II history, it’s also important to remember that indigenous people occupied this land for many generations until they were forcibly removed during the war.

Our long-distance hikers scaled a ridge leading to a distant memorial commemorating the battles that took place here. Our birders, shorter hikers, and photographers wandered the grassy meadows and paths along the lagoon closer to the beach.

The greenery of the island mixes with snow-capped mountains and deep valleys. The historic ruins remind us of the layered history that makes this place well known, despite its remote location.

After lunch, we managed one short Zodiac cruise to say a proper goodbye to the United States as we head for the International Date Line and the border with Russia.

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About the Author

Jennifer Kingsley

National Geographic Explorer

Jennifer Kingsley is a Canadian journalist, a National Geographic Explorer, and the Field Correspondent for Lindblad Expeditions. She has travelled extensively in the global Arctic and throughout the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Rim. After completing her biology degree, she worked in Canada's Rocky Mountain National Parks before moving to British Columbia to specialize in grizzly bear ecology. Jennifer spent several seasons sailing among the whales, bears, and wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest. 

About the Videographer

James Napoli

Video Chronicler

Jim was born in rural New England where he quickly developed an appreciation for the outdoors and a love of exploration.  Four years with the U.S. Navy further enhanced his appetite for travel. Always interested in the visual arts, he studied Television at Boston University and Northeast College of Communications, landing his first job in the industry working as an editor at a Boston television station. His wanderlust drew him to a job with two major cruise lines; installing and managing broadcast centers onboard a total of over a dozen ships. He has since moved on to specialize in expedition travel and wildlife productions.  

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