Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sitka--A Jewel of a Place!

Not only have we felt incredibly welcomed here, of course it helps to have had glorious weather for the three days we've had in Sitka.  Everyone--from our hosts to the bus drivers, restaurants servers, and store clerks--have been friendly and engaging.  This is a small town of about 8,000 people.  Tourism is a big industry in the summer when as many as three ships can visit town. Commercial fishing is another big industry--our host Terry has been out on his boat catching lots of salmon.  He and Sylvia have also been smoking and canning salmon, and I'm looking forward to a smoked salmon quiche for breakfast.

Downtown Sitka with the Russian Orthodox church.  The Russians were the first Europeans to this area--drawn here by the furs.  There are still many people of Russian descent, and apparently about 60 people attend this icon-filled church regularly.
Totem Park
Lloyd took this artistic photo in Totem Park.
Syliva drove us up Harbor Mountain--a narrow twisting road (SE Alaska's highest road), about 5 1/2 miles, built in 1942 to establish a look-out during WW2.  Now it's a park and the start of the Harbor Mtn trail, about 2.5 miles mostly through alpine meadows.  We started along the trail at about 11:30 AM Wednesday and arrived back in Sitka by 4:15 just in time for our 4:30 dinner reservation at Ludwig's Bistro!
The view of a volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, from Harbor Mtn.

A delightful snag
Harbor Mtn trail
At the end of this trail is an alpine hut and the start of another trail back down into Sitka.  The "Gavan Hill trail" is a tortuous series of stairs (stone and wood), an elevation change of 2,500 feet over 3.5 miles.  The view of Sitka sound from the top is gorgeous.
The town of Sitka and Sitka Sound.
At the top of some very steep stairs!
When we finally got down to the bottom, our legs were like jelly and our kneecaps were screaming.  And there were two runners going up the trail!!  At the trail end was a poster advertising "The Hill Climb", a running race this Saturday covering the same route we had just done in reverse.

We leave this jewel of a town this afternoon on the fast ferry at 3:15, back to Juneau in time to transfer to the ferry to Prince Rupert at 9PM tonight. We have a cabin booked on this ferry so we'll be able to get some sort of sleep each night! We will be arriving in PR at 3:30 AM Saturday picking up our car and starting the two day drive back to Vernon...

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