Cruising and adventure might at first seem mutually exclusive, but think again. What better way is there to experience adventure in several locales while at the same time enjoying food, entertainment and lodging? Last summer, we sailed in Alaska and took advantage of the grandeur of that state and all that it had to offer for nature lovers.
In Ketchikan, we waited far too long for a bus that didn’t start until much later – it was Sunday after all, but the kiosk with the schedule didn’t show a Sunday schedule and locals had no clue, so we ended up sharing a taxi to the Totem Park with some fellow passengers. While waiting for the bus, we talked with some other passengers who planned on hiking Deer Mountain and were getting anxious about wasting time waiting for the bus. Admittedly, we had only recently learned of Deer Mountain and weren’t prepared for such an adventure; that will be on the agenda the next time we return to Ketchikan.
When we arrived at Saxman Totem Park we asked what the deal was with the bus, and it was only then that we learned that it started later on Sunday. However, we did decide that we would walk back to town rather than waiting for a bus after our exploration of this park. If you want to learn about the Tlingit culture, this is the place. We checked out the different totems and went to the carving shed hoping to find Nathan Jackson, premier Totem carver, but he wasn’t there. However, it was good to see younger carvers carrying on this tradition and the Tlingit culture. We watched the totem carvers and then went to a shop and spoke with one of the local musicians who contributed to the Startled Salmon CD. Click to listen to Alaskan Folk Singer. This song mentions cruisers, so listen well.
You might be surprised to know that Ketchikan has a thriving arts community – something that seemed incongruous with the Diamonds International in port. Why did I not expect to see this type of store the first time that I set foot in Ketchikan? But I digress. We walked back toward town and headed to the hatchery and then walked back down to Creek Street and the ship.
Although I am terrified of bears because of a childhood experience, we set out to hike the East Glacier Trail at Mendenhall. First, we whale-watched with Dolphin Jet Boat Tours and saw a variety of marine life in addition to whales.
Whales sighted, we met the Cycle Alaska people to pick up our very well-maintained rental bikes and ride to Mendenhall. We had a great view of Mendenhall as we approached by bicycle and continued into the park to find a place to leave the bikes. We must have looked a bit odd with all of our hiking gear carried in a backpack – not the ideal set-up for cycling.
At the trail head, the first thing we noticed was the sign about bear activity in the area; just what I wanted to see. We made lots of noise, not only clicking our walking sticks, but also talking while scanning the forest for bears. We got closer to Mendenhall as we climbed to a lookout point and then left the view in the distance as we headed back to our bicycles, which took us back to the ship.
We went with Sockeye Cycle to the top of the pass and cycled back into town before eating lunch on the Celebrity Millennium to nourish ourselves for the hike up to Lower Dewey Lake. The trail provided excellent views of the docked cruise ships and also a workout for the quads as it climbed over many switchbacks. The hike around the lake itself was easy enough until we reached an area of boulders and couldn’t find the markings.
Keeping the lake to our left, we simply scrambled over these huge obstructions, hoping that we didn’t slip into the water below. We celebrated our accomplishments at the Skagway Brewery.
Are you up to a hike and cruise?
We so thoroughly enjoyed our hiking adventures in Alaska that we are organizing a cruise with hiking as a focus. The Celebrity Millennium sails on September 10, round trip from Seattle – that means you needn’t worry about the higher airfare of a one-way cruise, or the odd airline schedules out of Anchorage. Most importantly, you can find like-minded people and share the trail with fellow cruisers. There are many hiking trails to discover from the cruise ports and we plan on trying out some new ones on this cruise. Won’t you join us?