Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SKAGWAY ALASKA

The first port of call on the cruise portion of our Alaska trip was Skagway, located in the far northeast corner of Alaska's Inner Passage.  The town, which is home to less than 800 year around residents, is built on the tourism industry.  Most of the cruise ships make it a port of call, and the day we were there witnessed three or four other major cruise ships docked along side ours, disgorging more than 10,000 tourists onto the town's streets.  The season is short, though, and by mid-September the crowds are gone.

Where we docked, our stateroom faced a rock cliff that sported any number of signs (I won't say graffiti) that had been painted or otherwise plastered on the rocks.



It was raining when we arrived and continued to rain during most of our stay.  Nevertheless, we had committed to an excursion involving a hike and float down the Skagway River.  We were glad that we persevered; it was a lot of fun.  Our guide was excellent and helped us over the difficult areas on the hike (made more difficult by the wet conditions that made for spots where the footing was a bit treacherous).  He was also full of humor:  "Women who come to Skagway looking for a mate say the odds are good . . . but the goods are odd."  "There not a single mosquito in Skagway.  They're all married and have large families."  Here are a couple of scenes from the hike.




The hike was on the Chilkoot Trail, the same trail that the would-be prospectors took to participate in the Klondike gold rush in the 1890s, though we only hiked the first couple of miles.  Here is a shot of an historical photo from that time, showing the sourdoughs climbing the Chilkoot Pass (further up on the trail).  The little dots are real people only one percent of whom ever actually made a profit from their prospecting.


Following the hike we did a raft float down the Skagway River, this time without any mishap, unlike with the raft float in Talkeetna.

Most of those who did excursions in Skagway took a railroad trip up close to the Yukon Territory.  Some reported that it wasn't nearly as scenic as the advertisements indicated.  Perhaps the weather was a factor.

Following our excursion and return to the ship, I went back into town to get  few more photos.  Here's one that features a cruise ship (not ours) that seems to loom over the town, even though the ship is actually docked more than a quarter mile beyond the downtown area.


I was a bit disappointed with Skagway in that it was dressed up like a historical town, but in fact most of the shops had been built and maintained just to look that way.  Here is another shot of the general scene.


There was one authentically unusual storefront that dated from 1899.  It featured a facade comprised of pieces of driftwood fitted together.



I also liked the following shot, not for the building's facade but for the young woman the color of whose umbrella nearly matched that of the building's trim.


Umbrellas were not just for show.  At this point it began raining harder, and I decided to head back to the ship, catching this last shot on the way.


John

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