Tuesday, September 29

Big Trees, Wildlife Sighting & Murals

A busy day. We walked along the Catheral Trail amongst some very big trees. Had a surprise wildlife sighting - always pays to look up. Walked the streets of Chemainus looking at murals depicting the history of this small mill town. A nice day.



The famous Goats on the roof in Coombs


Some of the over 50 murals in Chemainus. If you like to see them all and learn more visit Mural Town.

Notice anything unusual?



Sunset at our campsite tonight. That's the Washington State coastline accross the Juan De Fuca Strait from Vancover Island.



Monday, September 28

Oceanside Drive

The last couple of days we've been on leisurely drive down Vancouver Island's eastern coast. Starting a little south of Port Hardy to Parksville (where we're camped tonight) this area is a prime summer vacation area for Canadians, from the bigger island towns to the south and Vancouver on the mainland. The "season" is over (no crowds) but we've lucked into some great weather, 65 and sunny - we even managed a ice cream stop today, which is essential to any smooth running expedition.


Then a lunch stop in Cumberland.



Campsite on the river


Saturday, September 26


We were on the standby list for the BC Ferry from Prince Rupert to Vancover Island - we got on, good! It was a 22 hour trip, not good - but you do what you need to do!! It was nice and smooth, very good! Now that we've arrived at Port Hardy on the island's northeastern shore, it will take the next several days driving south to reach Victoria, then another ferry to Port Angeles in Washington state. Stay tuned.

This BC Ferry was fancier than the AMHS ferries we've been on
This channel was deeper (1600') than it was wide (1400')


Thursday, September 24

Prince Rupert

We're in Prince Rupert with the possibility (currently we are on a wait list) that we will be on a BC Ferry to Vancover Island in the morning. Our three days here have been mostly rainy - but we've managed to stay busy and have enjoyed our stay. We visited a local museum, a National Historic Site, managed two hikes, and did our usual drive to the "end of the road".

A nice sunken garden in town



Constructed in the 1890s - we had an informative walking tour
At its peak the cannery had 100 of these houses for First Nation employees. The cannery also employed Chinese, Japanese and European workers - each having separate accommodations.



Lunch stop


Butze Rapids Interpretive Trail


Wednesday, September 23

The Long Way


Tuesday, September 22

Last Alaska Photo


We decided last night to change our plan - which seeing we've never had plan, is probably not too acurate a way to describe what happened. We had been trying to arrange a ferry from Ketchikan to Price of Whales Island but it just wasn't working out so we decided to bypass Ketchikan and are now in Prince Rupert, BC. This Friday we take a BC Ferry to Vancouver Island, drive the island, ferry over to Washington state and continue south along the coast. Unless, of course, we change the "plan".

Alaska Notes:

  • 91 days in Alaska
  • 6344 miles driven
  • 150 miles hiked/walked
  • 9 Ferry rides
  • 1440 ferry miles
  • 5 islands
  • 6 times we crossed the U.S.- Canada border Into and out of Alaska


Monday, September 21

Wrangell & The Muskeg

Our three days on Wrangell Island have been pretty darn nice, even had some sun! First stop was the Visitor Information Center which also houses the Wrangell Museum. We learned that Wrangell's newspaper (Wrangell Sentinel) is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Alaska, the island had the state's first sawmill, and that Wyatt Earp was the town Marshall for ten days back in 1897. Amazing things, these small town museums.

After leaving town we continued our free campsite streak and explored the island's backroads (courtesy of the U.S. Forrest Service) - the island has only 14 miles of paved road, but we've managed to travel over 175 miles so far. Our most interesting/challenging drive was up the mountain to reach the Salamander Ridge Trail.

View from one of our campsites


A Definition: Muskeg consists of dead plants in various states of decomposition, it tends to have a water table near the surface., and can hold 15 to 30 times its own weight in water, allowing the spongy wet muskeg to form on sloping ground.

Looks pretty inviting when you're on the road. No problem.

Shortly before reaching the trailhead the muskeg saga begins - actually it began back in Denali, when we took our hike in the tundra that set the standard for "tough hiking conditions" for us old guys. The road was blocked by a pickup (single lane, hung on the mountainside). So we got out to size things up, a couple minutes later the driver comes out of the bush to move his truck - we ask about the trail and he says "you guys got rubber boots?" (everybody wears them in Alaska) - nope we say - "might get a little wet then" he replys. That should have been our first clue that this might not be a normal walk in the park. Upon reaching the trail the second clue presented itself when the relatively dry floating boardwalk ended - but, as usual, we push on, because certainly it can't get wetter - we're climbing a mountain! It does, and we do! After slogging for nearly a mile we decided to retreat and dry out - Muskeg 1 Old Guys 0. Lesson learned, don't do muskeg without your rubber boots.

Wet and slippery walkway.
Best to keep moving or you sink.


The next day, after drying out, we hit the trail to Rainbow Falls. No muskeg (we learned our lesson) but we had a two mile hike with lots and lots of stairs - the trail discription said, moderate to difficulte hike with many steps. Whew!


Bonus pics.

U.S. Forest Service cabin which you can rent.