Sunday, September 8, 2013

Skagway and Haines, Alaska

usbackroads destination--Skagway and Haines, Alaska

Morning found us in Skagway with typical south-east Alaska weather.  Cloudy and spitting rain, but the forecast promised us warm, sunny day.  Last year, the report was that they had FIVE sunny days.  That is for ALL of last year.  Definitely a tough place for those of us use to living under sunny skies.

The agenda for the day was a sea kayak trip on Chilcoot Lake.  That entailed taking a short 45 minute ferry trip to Haines.  We were more interested in exercise and have been contemplating buying a sea kayak so thought that the kayak trip would suit us better than staying in Skagway.

Skagway is a tourist National Park.  It is really a historical National Park for the Alaska gold rush.  If your into history and the follies of man definitely stay in Skagway.  There are some great off-ship excursions including a rail trip into Canada.  Both Skagway and Haines can be reached by automobile from Canada. In the future when we head north through the Yukon both communities will be on our list of stops.

Haines was a pleasant surprise.  Wide open skies, unlike the steep canyon that is Skagway.  Here is the ferry terminal.  The mud flats around town make it a short from the terminal to land.

Here is Alex on the rear seat of her kayak.  The good thing about having a daughter that is a certified lifeguard is you can take your personal lifeguard along on all your water trips.

The sea kayaks had rudder and were steered by pedals within the cockpit.  Now as a canoeist my first thought was wimps.   You steer with your paddle.  It took about five minutes to get rid of that notion.  That rudder and steering pedals are the best thing since sliced bread.  Ok so I was wrong on the steering, but it only took me five minutes to realize it was time to change my opinion.

Here is Alex landing her boat at the dock.  Notice that she is pulling out her hair.  She was paired with a Indian software engineer.  Unfotunately, he was sub-continent Indian rather than North American Indian. The concept of a kayak and paddling was "foreign" to him.  Alex, did point out to him that he also had to paddle!!

 I on the other hand had my life long paddling partner up front.  And though she no longer wants to go over waterfalls in a canoe, she does know enough to paddle.  That first date through a swamp was over 35 years ago so she feels much more comfortable about giving me "advice" on our canoe trips.  Has it been 35 years that I have been looking at the blond hair in front of the boat??

The kayak trip finished with lunch on a deck overlooking the lake.  Pretty good recreational facility.  If your lacking for flat ground, make your own with a deck.  They should have put a cover for that liquid sunshine, but it was sunny for our trip.

Alaskan's always do things slightly different than in the lower 48.  When I first moved to Idaho, the tourist slogan was "Idaho is what America was".  Well, Idaho has joined the mainstream, but fortunately Alaska is still there to remind us about how different we once were as a country.  I am sure only in Alaska will you find a 12 year old ferry captain.  Ok, so maybe he was just training.

The folks on the back of the ferry were too busy to notice their captain.  I guess the rare sunshine was enough to drag everybody outside.

After our return to Skagway we left on the cruise ship heading for Glacier Bay in the fading sunshine.  It back to Haines and then a turn to Glacier Bay with arrival scheduled for next morning.  On the ferry there were are few people looking for mountain goats on the hillside.  So as we left port, I took the binoculars and started scanning the surrounding mountains.  No goats, but I did spot two grizzly sows with their cubs way up above timberline.  That's about the right distance for viewing grizzlies....couple miles, several thousand feet of elevation difference and at least a half mile of water on a boat with high sideboard.

1 comment:

Donna K said...

Enjoyed your pictures. There is some beautiful scenery there to be sure.