Day 25 – June 22nd – Friday: Sitka
Absolutely a beautiful day. Had to be out to the ferry for loading at 6am, so we were up early. It was even light out at 4am. Gorgeous ride out to the ferry. Had to stop for a ‘photo op’. Didn’t want to pass this one up after I passéd up an incredible pink sunset sky 2 nights ago. We were on the Fairweather which is the high speed catamaran boat that the Marine Highway System has. Only took us 4.5 hrs to get from Juneau to Sitka. Saw a neat lighthouse on the south end of the Lynn Canal. It was a fantastic trip. The seas were as smooth as glass the whole way. Had a couple of humpback whales as well as a few orcas along the way. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine, gorgeous temps and little breeze. Met a guy on the boat who is from Washington, who teaches middle school science during the year, but, who for the last 25 years has been coming up here and commercial fishing for the whole summer. Learned a tremendous amount from him. He said that the weather today was the best he had the entire season when he was up here last year. We have really been fortunate.
Got set up with a room and then took off on the bikes. We’d heard about a road that went up this mountain that overlooks the town of Sitka and has a tremendous vista of Mount Edgecumbe which is a volcano which is on a separate island just across from the main Baranof Island which Sitka is on. Decided we better do this while the weather was good. Biked up several miles on a terrible gravel road with no shoulders and very large loose gravel. Not good. Then came to a closed gate which no one had told us about. Parked the bikes, and based on what we had just biked through, I was really happy to park the bike. Ran into a couple of people who said that we had to hike from here and that it was “maybe a mile”. It was a fairly steep hike on the “road”. We ran into snow quickly as well as a transition from bad loose gravel to “shot rock” which would have been a disaster to try and bike on. It was really tough hiking. The hike was a nice for the exercise, but was technically a real bear. We actually hiked several miles. Never did get reliable information from the few people we passed who were coming down. Kept running into more and more snow. Did get to a couple of spots where we had a vista, but it wasn’t looking out over Sitka, so, not to be denied, and not afraid of a challenge, we hiked on. After another mile or so, we finally came to what looked like the end of the road. There was a lot of snow and hard to really see any landmarks…but after studying things for a bit, we finally realized that what we thought was the ‘end of the road’ was actually a parking turnoff,and that we were actually on a sharp hairpin turn that went on up at a really steep. This whole area was completely engulfed in several feet of snow, and it appears that it was still a fairly long hike to the “top”. WE QUIT!….and we don’t quit very often. Took several hours to do this. Not anticipating any of this, we hadn’t taken any water with us. Had scads of waterfalls along the way, but despite the temptation, we decided that we didn’t want to do any microbiological experiments with the water. Back to Sitka. Never did get that picture overlooking Sitka out towards the volcano that we had set out to get. You can’t win them all! Gorgeous evening. Time to eat!