Weekly Rundown

All about Ketchikan, Volume 3.

Alaska, like much of the Country, has pretty much shut down. Bars, restaurants, the company I was working for. However, I’m fortunate to have a number of trails to explore within walking distance.

Rainbird Trail: Scenic views and a hilly wooded path, this two-and-a-half-mile walk provides a look at the Tongass Narrows and Gravina and Pennock Islands. While moving through the forest, there is a selection of spruce, cedar, hemlock, and pine trees to observe in their tree-fulness.

Rainbird View
View from Rainbird Trail overlook spot

 

Deer Mountain Trail: A significantly more strenuous hike than Rainbird, and currently covered in snow at an elevation of about one mile from the base, it on;y went part of the way up. Deer Mountain is described as “Ketchikan’s iconic and idyllic backdrop.

Deer Mountain in cloudy weather
A view up from the base of Deer Mountain
Deer Mountain Clearing
Snowy pass up the Deer Mountain Trail

 

Several other locations are within driving distance (only some 30 miles of highway move up the Western coast of Revilla Island), and these include Carlanna Lake Trail, Ward Lake and Perseverance Lake Trail, and the Coast Guard Beach Trail.

I only briefly headed down to Ward Lake, but anticipate further hiking over the weekend. The weather has turned sunny, while still hovering between thirty and forty degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Weekly Rundown

All about Ketchikan, Volume Two.

The history of Ketchikan is closely tied to fishing. As I mentioned last week, the Kadjuck Tlingits made summer fishing camps along the coast of this island at the Tongass Narrows. But it was in 1883 that a salmon saltery (fish packaging operation) was established. This saltery, started by Mike Martin, was the first such business in place.

In 1885, Loring cannery opened its doors; in 1887, the Tongass Packing Company built its cannery; other immigrants began to open businesses, and in 1900, on August the 25th, the City of Ketchikan was incorporated with a population of 459 residents.

Southeast Alaska is one of the great breeding grounds for all species of the Pacific Salmon. There are about 1,100 islands that make up the Alexander Archipelago, which themselves have steep inland ranges and streams (aided by the about 150 inches of rainfall each year). All these factors contribute to the returning salmon runs, some with upwards of one million fish!

During the mid-to-late summer, salmon can be seen running over the falls and fish ladder at Creek Street, right through Downtown Ketchikan.

Creek Street

Weekly Rundown

All about Ketchikan, Volume One.

Well, I’m here. I might as well post some information that I’ve found interesting.

The City of Ketchikan, AK sits on Revillagigedo Island, which is about 89 km (50 mi) long from north to south and 48 km (35 mi) wide from east to west, making it the 12th largest island in the United States and the 167th largest island in the world.

The island is separated from the Alaska mainland to the east by Behm Canal, from Prince of Wales Island to the west by the Clarence Strait, and from Annette Island to the south by Revillagigedo Channel and Nichols Passage.¹

There are two cities on the Island, Ketchikan and Saxman. The name Ketchikan was chosen as the creek which flows through town is Ketchikan Creek. It was named for Kitsch, a Tlingit native who claimed the section of creek for fishing. Kitsch-hen was anglicized to Ketchikan, as the Tlingit didn’t have a formal written language. Hen translates to creek, and Kitsch to “the thundering wings of an eagle”.² Aptly, bald eagles fly and nest along the coast up and down the Southwestern shore.

The other city, Saxman, is famous for its totem poles. It has the largest collection of standing poles in the world, which is impressive as the Saxman is only one square mile.³ Many of Saxman’s totems were apparently stolen in the late 1800s during the Harriman Expedition, which I’m currently researching.

Chief Kashakes House in Saxman
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revillagigedo_Island
  2. http://www.firstalaskacruise.com/ketchikan-historical-highlights.html
  3. https://alaskatrekker.com/places-go/saxman-alaska/

 

Travel, banned

The world is feeling a little smaller right now. I’m currently sequestered on Revilla Island with two weeks off. I’m about to trek out into the interior and explore some of the trails at my disposal.

I had the option to return home for two weeks but, in an abundance of caution, I opted to stay put and not risk bringing contaminants back to my family.

At this time when all we know is that very little is certain, it’s better to ere on the side of caution rather than risk

The capital

What’s the capital in Alaska?

A!

It’s a silly joke I was told before coming up.

Here’s another:

A couple of hikers were prepping for their trek through Denali. At the outfitters, they were given bells and colored ribbons. Inquiring as to their purpose, they were told, “the bells are good at keeping black bears away. Do you know how to identify the bears from their droppings?”

Another homer leaned over and whispered, “Black bear manure has berries in it. Kodiaks’ will have bells and colored ribbons.”

A new podcast to binge

Tuned into this podcast completely by accident: The Wild with Chris Morgan. Pretty fabulous. I listened to two episodes, the first on our connection with animals and the second on what trees are telling us.

I recommend giving it a listen, and I’ll start a deep dive as I explore some of the Ketchikan trails around town. Today I walked Rainbird Trail. I’m waiting for the snow to thaw before I hike up Deer Mountain.

3680E402-2F4E-4603-AD15-648C8C9A0827

On the other side

I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.  —Mary Anne Radmacher
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. ”

Mary Anne Radmacher

I’ve been to a few places, though I always seem to want to search for more. In more places. Find new things about the world, and about myself.

Two days into my self-imposed displacement, I’m still just adjusting to the time zone shift, navigating the town, and starting to lean into the solitude of a place with no one I know. It’s been welcoming, and friendly, and quite warm, despite being cold outside. But it’s new and not quite home.

And figuring out what home is – that’s an important part of stepping away. Without perspectives outside of your comfort zones, you’ll miss the richness that any home provides.

Alaska

“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” – John Muir

Made it to my destination, Ketchikan, AK. I’ll call this home for the summer, and I’m excited to see what that will look like.

A new endeavor

Today I fly off what will be my longest trip away from what I know. My first extended-travel. Beyond a month here or there, six months will prove you be the most interesting to date.

It’s easy to be excited for the adventure, or anxious for the unknown. But the challenge isn’t what’s to come – rather it’s easing out of the comforts of familiar life. I’ve been wondering about how these last days would go, and it is amazing how deeply the roots go into a community you’re a part of.

The goods news is, roots can be as long as they need to, extending around the world if desired. and while I may be across the country, my community is just a phone call away.

Preparations

In getting ready to be away for an extended time I’ve found myself returning again and again to Rolf Potts’s Vagabonding. Some thoughts I’ve had from reading the book:

“Life at home can’t prepare you for how little you need on the road.”

While I’m not backpacking this time around, even sorting out what I need and don’t need has been cumbersome. I’ve stored a portion of my clothes, books, and superfluous ‘things’ that will wait for me until I return, at which point I’m hoping to sell off a good chunk of my goods either at a yard sale or online.

“Reading old travel books or novels set in faraway places, spinning globes, unfolding maps, playing world music, eating in ethnic restaurants, meeting friends in cafes . . . all these things are part of never-ending travel practice, not unlike doing scales on a piano, or shooting free-throws, or meditating.”

– Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgramage

Alaska was only a thought, somewhere distant, living at the edge of my periphery. I don’t recall when it took root. But when I visited last year it blossomed. There was a vastness to the country that I had never seen the likes of before – which stood before me in such a way that I felt both insignificant and at the same time a part of the frontier. It was a continuation of something I looked for that first time I was in Europe, and I knew I’d have to go back.

“If you’re already in debt, work your way out of it – and stay out. If you have a mortgage or other long-term debt, devise a situation  (such as property rental) that allows you to be independent of its obligations for long periods of time. Being free from debt’s burdens simply gives you more vagabonding options. And, for that matter, more life options.”

Well, debt is something I’ve considered in painstaking detail since getting out of school. I’ve made some financial mistakes; followed certain passions that weren’t always viable; spent too much, made too little, and sat idle occasionally while trying to reorient myself. Debt is a weight, and I work every day to lighten that load.

“I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket,” [Charlie Sheen says in Wall Street], “I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”

When I first saw this scene on video a few years ago, I nearly fell out of my seat. After all, Charlie Sheen or anyone else could work for eight months as a toiulet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across China.

And that quote from Chapter 1 has stuck with me since first reading it in 2003. My copy of the book is beaten up, highlighted, scribbled in, and full of notes about places I want to see and methods of transportation. I regret not taking the plunge that year. Back when I was debt-free, and I needed a year off from school because I just couldn’t concentrate. But it’s never too late to do what you wanted to do. Sure, maybe it feels a little more complicated. But, it’s not too late.

I was having lunch the other day with some friends, and one of them asked whether I had the wanderlust. Yes, I do.

“To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.”

– Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road