Sunday, 18 December 2011

Day 12 Ketchikan, Alaska

Day 12
We were safely docked at Ketchikan, port side at 12.31pm. 

Ketchikan is the 4th wettest place in the world. It can rain for a whole month, 31 days straight. We had arrived on a good day - it was not raining hard.
The city guards the Tongass Narrows and is neatly laid out as a strip along the coast, at the base of Deer Mountain 3,100ft on Revillagigedo Island. The first inhabitants were Tlingit tribes who set up a fishing camp at Ketchikan Creek. It grew to become the 'Salmon Capital of the World'. The shortage of land for building encouraged the creation of artficial flat surfaces by using stilts on the sloping hillside or piers and pilings out into the water.
We had opted to use our afternoon here to explore one of Alaska's least known but a most spectacular creations - Misty Fjords. Using a jet boat to reach this distant landscape we powered through the rain and cloud in relative comfort, firstly SE along the Revillagigedo Channel and then NE into the Behm Canal. We paused to view a bald eagle's nest and an indian pictograph, neither of which were readily distinguishable but one thing you could not miss was New Eddystone Rock.
Named by Cpt George Vancouver in 1793 this rock loomed up out of the fog. It consists of basalt that rose from a volcanic vent in the floor of the Behm Canal about 5m years ago. Glaciers have since scoured away most of the flow leaving behind this rock. Almost as if using the rock as a marker we turned right into Rudyerd Bay.

To our amazement we entered a fascinating and ethereal series of inlets and fjords.

The rain stopped and the wind became calm as we quietly glided across the water.

Whispy clouds draped the precipitous mountain sides providing an almost fairyland atmosphere.
The bay once belonged to the Nex'adi who would hike 5 days up the river flowing into the bay to set traps and deadfalls. The mountain called "Gweka'h" is one site where survivors of the Tlingit flood legend were saved.

Punchbowl wall in Punchbowl Cove between rain showers - above.
We paused for a while to await the arrival of a float plane joining us to exchange passengers.
But from this place where you experienced a halting feeling that could have persuaded one to linger longer for an inevitable Sirens embrace, we had to return to windy and rainswept Ketchikan.

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