Husky House

Posts Tagged ‘kayaking’


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Counting time on either end of our cruise on the MV Misty Fjord, we spent three days in Ketchikan trying to cram in everything we could.  We arrived the afternoon of August 2, an incredibly warm and sunny day in a city located in the Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest temperate rain forest.  Either we were very lucky or our timing was perfect, as it rained only one day during our visit.  Average annual precipitation in Ketchikan is over 165 inches, ranging from a  low of 6.43 inches in July to 20.29 inches in October.

Do you remember the politically infamous “Bridge to Nowhere?”  Well, Ketchikan is where it was proposed to be constructed, to connect Ketchikan (on Revillagigedo Island) to its airport 1/2 mile across the Tongass Narrows on Gravina Island.  The 2005 Highway Bill provided $223 million for the bridge, which would have allowed people to drive to the airport rather than take a ferry across the Narrows.  So, since there is no bridge from the airport to Ketchikan, we did the bag drag from the airport to the ferry, paid $5.00 each and rode the ferry across the Narrows to pick up the shuttle to our hotel.  Fortunately it was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed the short ferry ride.  Even though the ferry lends extra character to Ketchikan, a bridge sure would have been nice and time saving.

The airport ferry (left) crossing the busy Narrows back to Ketchikan

On the ferry bound for Ketchikan

Being from a place with limited choices (Fairbanks), food and shopping are always the mainstay of any trip.  Although the food in Ketchikan was good, it was nothing to rave about, but it is always nice to have different choices.  I didn’t do any shopping, except for the obligatory tee shirt or two.  Since Ketchikan is a cruise ship port, there are many, many shops, and a disproportionate  number of high end jewelry stores, which must do well or they wouldn’t be there.  I never thought about going on a cruise to buy jewelry.  But then, there is Alaska gold jewelry.  Keep in mind that most of these shops board up for the season as soon as the last tourist walks out the door, and their owners set up somewhere warm and sunny for the winter.

Looking at Creek Street, a boardwalk over Ketchikan Creek in what was the old "red light district."

Cruise ship passenger doing their thing down by the docks in Ketchikan. Ketchikan is the first (or last stop) in Alaska for many cruise ships.

When cruise ships dock, passengers seek alternatives to cruise ship food, so the seafood shacks where crowded.  To be fair about the food, Bill enjoyed his fresh seafood; I don’t enjoy seafood.  Ice cream is also a priority for me, I have to have a waffle cone of one of my favorite flavors.  Apparently ice cream was also a priority for the cruise ship people, as it was nearly combat to get get one in what seemed to be the only ice cream shop in town.

Not counting the MV Misty Fjord and the Misty Fjords cruise and kayaking, which will be addressed separately, the highlights of our Ketchikan stay were ziplining, a bicycle tour and even more kayaking.  The disappointment was that we didn’t have the time to do even more biking and kayaking in such a beautiful place.  There is only one main road in town, the Tongass HIghway, which runs about 31 miles from north to south on the island, with Ketchikan virtually in the middle.

One of 34 totem poles in Saxman Native Village, about 3 miles south of downtown Ketchikan. Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles.

As for ziplining, this was our first time, and I can say that I am now a fanatic.  There are two ziplines in Ketchikan, one at the north end and one at the south end, and we did them both.  The Southeast Exposure Ropes and Zipline Park on the north end was the first we tackled.  I conveniently placed myself in the rear of the group, so I could watch everyone go before I had to make the leap.  But the guide fooled me and started from the back of the line, so much for that strategy.  The first step (off the tower) was the hardest, but as soon as I was in the air I was hooked.  I have been searching for a word to describe it, and I think “liberating” fits best.  The ropes were also fun, a nice addition to the park, and, for me, required more nerve than the zipline.

Bill on the "practice run" at Southeast Exposure's Rope and Zipline Park

Bill on one of the ropes courses at Southeast Exposure's Ropes and Zipline Park

Having had so much fun on the ziplines, we did the other course the next day.  Alaska Canopy Adventures is on the south end of Ketchikan and offers two courses, Bear Creek and Eagle Creek; we did the latter.  The course is higher in the hills with some longer runs, has three hanging sky bridges and the view from the lines is amazing. Both this and the Ropes and Zipline Park were fun, and I would do them both again.  I think I am addicted.

Looking off a platform at Alaska Canopy Adventures' Eagle course

One of the hanging sky bridges on Alaska Canopy Adventures' Eagle course

On the evening before our departure for home, Kelvin, Bill and I went on one last magical kayak in the waters of Clover Pass, on the north end of the island.

An evening kayak in Clover Pass before heading back to reality

There Are More Photos In My Ketchikan and Ziplining Galleries

Aialik Bay and Humpy Cove

With the increasing daylight and the more hospitable temperatures, my urge to ski or skijor in Denali Park is gaining momentum.  Anything to visit my favorite place.  Around mid-March the spring road opening will begin, and “shortly” thereafter so will vehicle access to Teklanika, until the season begins around Memorial Day.  I’m so excited!

I’m continuing my project to recreate some of the  posts that disappeared when the old site went offline.  Fortunately for the viewer, the new posts will not be as verbose and will serve primarily to introduce the photo galleries.  With my thoughts racing toward summer, I’ve chosen sea kayaking for today’s undertaking.

If you want to go anywhere other than around a lake, sea kayaking (as opposed to white water kayaking) is limited in the Fairbanks area to either the Chena or Tanana Rivers.  Therefore, we prefer to travel to someplace where we can really sea kayak, such as Seward.  Since such adventure can be time consuming and expensive, we don’t do it nearly as often as we would like.

In August 2009, we loaded the kayaks on the Jeep and ventured to Seward to explore Aialik Bay.  We did  other things along the way, but kayaking was the ultimate destination.  This was a spur of the moment trip (I think we were escaping smoke from wildfires around Fairbanks), so we were limited by availability to one night on Orca Island and two days kayaking.  These two days were the most perfect kayaking I have experienced; the weather was great, the guide a perfect match, the seas accommodating, and the yurt Utopian.

We had to take about a 30 minute sea taxi ride to reach our yurt on privately owned Orca Island.  There are only three yurts on the island, and the night we were there, we shared the island with only two other people, the ultimate in solitude.   No phone/cell phone service, no power for your computer, no TV, read a book by the light from propane lamps, grill a tenderloin on the deck, enjoy a couple beers from the cooler, fall asleep to the rhythm of the changing tide and awaken to the sounds of the Kittiwakes.

Unloading the taxi at Orca Island. That's our guide in the red life jacket.

Our little yurt in paradise

View from the deck

On arrival day, we kayaked around Humpy Cove with our guide, eventually paddling up a stream to a waterfall where Bill decided to check out the icy water.  After a relaxing evening in the yurt, the water taxi picked us up and we rode a couple hours to Aialik Bay where we set out on our day-long journey around Aialik and Pedersen Glaciers.  I had dreamed of kayaking around a glacier and I can only describe this as awesome, breathtaking, stunning, imposing, incredible.

Bill enjoying the frigid water in the waterfall pond

Returning to Orca Island

On the taxi heading out to Aialik Glacier

John and Bill enjoying an Alaskan Amber in front of Aialik Glacier

A black bear strolling along the shore by Pedersen Glacier

Bill and John paddling among the berger bits at Pedersen Glacier

Our water taxi pickup in Aialik Bay at the mouth of Pedersen Glacier, three others shared the taxi with us

There are more photos of Aialik Bay and Humpy Cove in my gallery.