Alaska – Day #4

August 16, 2013
Skagway – Our first excursion

The alarms we set for 6:30 AM, which isn’t as bad as it sounds since Alaska is an hour ahead of the west coast and 3 hours ahead of Panama. We weren’t the only people with plans. There were many others at breakfast early.

We planned well and found our excursion with time to spare. After three days on the ship, it felt good to be on to some solid ground. I had booked our excursions so long ago I barely remembered the details – something about a bus ride, and a ride on a historic train, a mountain pass, history from the gold rush days…  (I have since found it was this company)

What a day it was! It started out with a bus ride by a great tour guide who was full of stories and interesting facts about Skagway. She obviously loved the area and loved telling others about it. The rain soon stopped so we had no trouble seeing the beautiful area and getting some nice photos.

We ended at Carcross where we were to board the train. It was an old train route from back in the gold rush days of 1896-98, and took us at a slow rate through the mountains and along lakes until we stopped for lunch at Lake Bennet. It was a gold rush era lunch served at long tables with large pots of beef stew, bread and cold slaw for sides, and apple pie for dessert. People served themselves from the large pots and there were two selections – take it or leave it. The food was really good though and I didn’t see anyone passing it up.

After lunch we proceeded along, now going higher and higher in the mountains until we were so high that the fog became thick, and there were only lichens and small scrubby plants and pine trees clinging to the rocks. We were told that these little pines were 100+ years old. They remain so small because living here is very harsh with fierce cold and high winds. The only plants that survive spend the winter covered by snow because without the snow cover they would be blown away.

As the train descended the views became more and more spectacular. I spent most of the time on the outside platform so I could get photos without shooting through the glass. That was so fun being outside and feeling so close to the scenery that I stayed out for the rest of the ride. It was very chilly at higher elevations and a bit wet at times, but well worth it.

When we got back to town we decided to walk around. I had seen some people looking at something and taking pictures, and there were more people at the same spot so we decided to go see what was going on. It was a small stream full of salmon! We had seen people fishing in a pond and now we realized they were catching salmon, and there were many more salmon as we followed the stream down. Some guys told us that these salmon were behind schedule, exhausted, and dying, and not any good to eat. They were so spent that people (tourists) were fishing them out with their bare hands. We’ve all heard about the salmon going upstream to spawn but we don’t think about what a difficult journey it is, or how many don’t make it.

We walked around town a little more. It’s mostly tourist shops which was no surprise since our bus driver told us that the whole town runs on tourism. The salmon were definitely worth the walk into town though! What an interesting thing to see.

By now we were tired and headed back to the ship. I went to the computer library so I could plug in and watch the scenery roll by. The rain was returning as we pulled away from the dock, and the mountains were taking on that beautiful foggy, ethereal look that I love to photograph. What a wonderful day and wonderful experience in Alaska!

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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4 Responses to Alaska – Day #4

  1. indacampo says:

    Lovely Kris, the scenery reminds me of some of the places around Alberta and BC. 🙂

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  2. sunnymikkel says:

    Thanks for another interesting trip, it’s like we are there with you and your photos are great, makes me maybe want to go there also, maybe because I’m not sure about the ship part. I spent 11 years in the Navy and every time I went to sea, I was sick for the first few days.

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    • Kris says:

      If you have a chance, you should go! I think you can get around by plane, road, and ferry. The boat definitely rocked especially in open water. The bonine took care of my husband, but you definitely wouldn’t enjoy it as much if you are sick. But it’s definitely an experience to see this area.

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