Petersburg to Wrangell

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Wrangell, Alaska, United States
Ferry to  Wrangell: Thankfully, some sun and blue skies with no rain.  
Gorgeous Scenery; could see tops of snow-covered coastal mountains along the entire way. Beautiful ride through the Wrangell Narrows. 
                                           
            WRANGELL
August 20-25
CAMPGROUND: ALASKA WATERS RV
 -  electric, water, sewer; that's about all it has going for it. Only 7 sites and not even enough room for a picnic table between the sites. Not a great location. No internet; used the WIFI at the library. Cell service did work. Thankfully, the people camping here made it an enjoyable place; everyone very friendly and interesting.

One night our campground neighbors gave us a large piece of coho (silver) salmon and half a dungeness crab they had already steamed. They spend the summer here fishing. Ate the crab cold—delicious; baked the salmon like she did—mayo, seasonings, and slices of onion on top—turned out really good.
Weather was nice the first day. Took a walk in the evening; gorgeous view across the water of pink sunset sky around the mountains. Then overcast and light rain the rest of the time.

                                                        TOWN:
Visitor Center—video about Wrangell and Inside Passage.
Alaska Waters office. Made reservations for Anan & Stikine River Trips (coupon for 1 free Stikine trip).
Shops: Spent a few hours browsing 
Dock: Small cruise ship come into the dock. Only the children of Wrangell can sell garnets that are found here, and they were there when the cruise ship docked. Nice place to come in the evening. 
Chief Shakes Island and Totem Poles had quite a few interesting totems. The house only opens when a cruise ship is in port.

Wrangell Museum was extremely interesting—wonderful displays, audio stations, a video, and  about ten different animal furs so you could match which fur belonged to which animal.
Petroglyph Beach at low tide to see the ancient carvings in the rocks. It was amazing how clear the carvings were; being wet from the rain made them much more visible.  
Drove around the North part of the island; not much there
                                                 ZIMOVIA HIGHWAY 
Lots of overlooks to stop and enjoy the water views:

Pat’s Lake and Creek were beautiful.

Shoemaker Bay (nice camping overlooking the water; electric only) and a nice boat harbor.
Rainbow Falls hike through a beautiful rain forest.  Trail is almost all boardwalk with 583 steps going up continuously.   Went as far as the overlook of the 100-foot falls. Sure was easier going down!
                                           STIKINE RIVER JET BOAT TRIP 
Low tide going out so there were lots of harbor seals on the sandbar. Saw about ten eagles. Rode up several tributaries; quite a few dead salmon.  

Quite a few cabins throughout the Tongass National Forest. Lots of lichen hanging in the trees (natives used it for putting on cuts to help the healing). Since people cannot build in the national forest, individuals build floating cabins on the river—especially for moose hunting. Trees that had  branches removed toward the top were done by hunters that go up them to spot the moose. 
Shakes Lake had lots of icebergs; couldn’t get to the glacier because the icebergs blocked the way. Didn’t see much wildlife. 
The river was a maze of tributaries and sloughs, and Jim skillfully guided the jet boat through tricky swift waters and around sand bars. His interesting stories added to this wilderness experience. Thoroughly enjoyed this trip.
                                              TONGASS FOREST BACK ROADS
The day we drove around the island was another cloudy, drizzly rain day so scenery wasn’t that great. The roads were in very good condition. Did the loop from Upper & Lower Salamander, Earl West Cove, Long Lake, Thom’s Creek & Lake, Nemo, back up to the highway. Lots of great waterfalls on the creeks--one advantage to all the rain. Didn’t see any wildlife.
                                  ANAN BEAR OBSERVATORY TRIP 
Tremendous all-day trip—even in the drizzly rain that is normal for here. Took about an hour by boat; then half-mile walk to the observation area, which was fantastic.

The lower observation building with its cut-out viewing "windows" puts you right next to the bears on the creek. The bears by the observation area were all black ones.
 
The same bears come here year after year, and they all have names. Pedro, a 4-year-old male was there when we arrived. He’s a terrible fisherman; it took forever for him to finally catch a fish. The next bear was Underdog; he came down the hill and went under a boulder to catch the salmon. Bobali came right next to the observation platform. Vador walked down the stream, stood on the rock waiting patiently until a fish came by, then grabbed it.   
As we were leaving, saw a black bear in the woods above where we were walking out and a grizzly far away at the bottom of the stream. The boat went into the lagoon to get a closer view of the grizzly. Lots of eagles and three harbor seals in the lagoon. 
Anan is a special place for Tlingits because it was a place for the tribes to come together. Learned that they used the devil’s club plant to brew a tea to use for relieving pain (like an aspirin).
Definitely the highlight of our Wrangell trip.
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