Posts Tagged ‘Wrangell’

Petersburg AK – Bear Story & More 6/13

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Wrangell Narrows

The ferry from Wrangell to Petersburg passes through an area called Wrangell Narrows as it approaches Petersburg. The high tide there dictates the ferry schedule since it can only be traversed during higher tides. The ferry has to make about 45 changes in directions as it passes though this area between islands. This is described as a slalom course. We were told that this ferry trip is ideal for spotting wild life on either side of the boat during daylight. We took the ferry passage thru this area around midnight. We were told that the “Christmas lights” nighttime ride through the narrows was great and it was!

As we entered the narrows, we took our seats in the enclosed forward observation deck, at least those of us who were awake. Kim and I woke up Milly because the view and navigation process were spectacular to observe. There were flashing red and green lights stretched out almost as far as you could see as the ferry made its way to the left of the red lights and to the right of the green lights. At first it was easy to see what the captain was doing and what needed to be done.  At times, there also were two white lights in the distance that were close together almost appearing as one. Once we got close to the actual lights they separated. We understand that when the lights appear as one the ferry is on course.

Fred had to back up most of the car deck and turn before getting off the ferry. He is getting used to that as long as he is guided with exact instructions on what to do.

Flying Motor Boats and our Campsites

Our first night in Petersburg was spent at the Twin Creek RV Park about 5 miles out of town on the Mitkof Highway. It provided full connection services including WIFI and we had reservations for 4 nights. However, we decided to get more a rustic camping site at the National Forrest Campground at Ohmer Creek about 17 miles further down the highway. We selected a site there for 2 nights at $3 a night “Senior Pass rate” versus the private rate where we were. We went back to get our rig. In the end, we found an unbelievably scenic campsite in a secluded wooded spot right on an ocean straight for no cost about 4 miles down from Ohmer Creek where we spent 3 nights. We paid for all 3 sites for 1st 2 nights. (1 free)

While still at Twin Creek and  waiting to go to town for provisions, Kim and Fred were on internet checking their  email. Then, we heard a harsh scrapping sound and looked out the camper windows to see this boat trailer screeching down the road by itself. It careened into a ditch just before it was to hit a couple of camp sites, the boat on it went flying forward up the ditch. We all ran to see what happened. There were about 6 men doing construction work at the RV Park and 3 or 4 campers out there to survey the situation. We lifted the trailer back on the road and managed to slide the trailer under the boat to where it could be wrenched back onto the trailer. No damage was done to boat or trailer. What a caused this? There was no safety chain and the hitch was configured for a larger ball that was on pickup. The native Alaskan driver was heard to say “I don’t understand. I got it this far without any problems”.  He drove off with his twin engine boat not realizing how lucky he was.

Racing with a Black Bear

This is going to hard to believe but its all true.

Yesterday, about a mile up the road from our campsite as we were driving on a gravel road section of Mitkof Highway, we were accosted by a black bear. He was running right beside us about 5 feet to the left of Fred who was driving about 25-30 miles per hour. Man, that bear was really cruising along with very powerful strokes. Fred shouted “What the .. Get a camera” and hit the brakes. The bear swerved right is front of the car, crossed the road and disappeared into the woods. We don’t know the bear’s side of this story and have no clue on what happened just before we saw the bear. It was certainly an unforgettable experience for all three of us.   We wish we had been ready with a camera to catch the action.

Catherine of Sienna Church, Petersburg, AK

Today, Milly and Kim paddled out onto the Sumner Straight from our campsite. Fred went to Petersburg to attend what turned out to be a very spiritual Mass. The singing of the choir was glorious. Fr. Pat Casey, OMI gave an excellent sermon about the Eucharist or Communion which highlighted on the real presence. Fred was very moved by the spirit. He was reminded that heaven and earth are truly united in each Holy Eucharistic Celebration. Fr. Casey knew of Fred’s uncle, Fr. Ron Dunfey, and knew the other Alaskan priests that Fred had met; Bishop Kenny, Fr. Mike Nash and Fr Jim Kolb, OMI.

All of the following pictures were taken right from our Campsite on Sumner Straight. Other pictures taken on Hikes and Paddles will get posted tomorrow or as soon as we can review.

Wrangell Wrap Up 06/11

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

There are a number of attractive campsite options available in Wrangell. The Forrest service operates about 10 no frills tent campsites at Nemo about 20 miles from Wrangell.. Some of these could support RV’s of minimum size.  These campsites were located on a ridge high above the bay. These were about the best scenic and situated rustic campsites we have ever seen. They were fantastic. We went there to see them. They were vacant. I also believe there is no change for using! This is best kept secret on inside passage.

There is also a city owned campground that supports less than 10 campsites, some with electric hookups. These are also located in a wooded area with great ocean views!

We camped at neither. I had decided to make reservations at Alaska Waters RV setup because of full hookups including WIFI. The WIFI was no yet operational for season. There was no picnic table nor would you want to be outside much due to awful junk on neighboring lots.  There was an ocean view through the trees. This was a good 1st night place to charge your batteries, fill water tanks, empty sewage etc.  We didn’t realize the great rustic camping available down island away from Wrangell.

Free WIFI was available at Alaskan Waters office near the docks on Main Street.

What we lost were evenings by a warm fire overlooking the most majestic bay in the world with mountains rising on all sides. Who’s really complaining? It was a learning experience.

Fred hates to be taken advantage of! It drives him bananas at times. For example:

He got a bill from Verizon Broadband for over $700 for May via email. It took him several days to finally determine the issue, “Roaming charges of 2 cents per kilobyte for all pictures that were uploaded!!” It is now obvious how many are duped into these outrageous charges. We have experienced a Verizon that has demonstrated extremely poor customer service availability, techniques that border on nefarious, and unethical management. They also had suspended our account with notifying us. There was no indication that we was incurring roaming charges and there was every indication that we were receiving normal service as we went into Canada.

We took pictures of what campsites we could have stayed at for a lot less than we paid.

We visited the Nolan Museum which featured the history of this area of Alaska. This should not be missed if you come here! 

We went to petroglyph beach to see the stone picture carvings left behind before the native tribes arrived.

We crossed the bridge to see Shakes Island – a replica of a famous tribal chieftain’s home  

We climbed up to Rainbow Falls and attempted to climb another 2.5 miles to a lookout high above the bay.
We stooped near the top after  a 2 hour climb up. We were following our daughter’s lead. 

We took a kayak paddle in the Wrangell bay area, first paddle in pacific for Milly and Kim

We washed the camper and car before heading to ferry for our 9:30 PM departure to Petersburg. We arrive there at 12:30 AM. We also discovered that a change in our schedule from Sitka moved us to a slow ferry from the fast ferry that increased the trip from 9 hours to 16.5 hours with no cabin space available on slow ferry.

Wrangell – Stikine River Trip 06/09

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

The highlight of our visit to Wrangell was the tour of the Stikine River Wilderness Area by ALaska Waters. Jim Leslie, owner, Tour Captain and youth at heart has been driving jet boats thru Stikine for over 40 years ( since he was 12). You could tell he loves every moment and wants you to feel the same thing he does. His deck hand took the pictures found in the most popular book on the Stikine River. He showed his expertice on all wildlife, flowers and everything Stikine. Jim Leslie is featured in Alaska Dreams video of the Wrangell/Stikine area. They made an outstanding guide duo.

Milly captured some great shots of an Eagle while on Stikine River given our equipment and expertise. She also got a shot of a swimming bear before it disappeared.

We hope our pictures will somewhat cover the magnitude of what we saw of Stikine River area. This was going to be a key visit. It exceeded our expectations. Maybe Eastman will sponsor a  early Sept vacation trip to this area for a wilderness tour of lower and upper Stikine. The Upper Stikine is known as the Grand Canyon of Canada.

Ketchikan – Misty Fjiords 06/05-07/2009

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

On the morning after our arrival in Ketchikan. we drove inland on gravel roads to Lake Harriet Hunt. We did get lost taking a wrong turn on gravel road intersection. Local hunters straightened us out.  We paddled this “wilderness” mountain lake and found an “adventure” tour location with a rainforest trail.


In the late afternoon, we picked up our daughter Kimberly at the airport. Kim lives in San Fransisco Area. She joins us for 3 weeks on inside passage. Each night, while at Last Chance campground, we gathered wood and lit a campfire. Our neighbors in campground were primarily Alaskans who came out to enjoy the unusually warm and sunny weather. They get 150 inches of rain a year here! Next to us was a family with about 30 people. We met the grandmother. They had 4 tents and many family visitors. It was nice to see so many children enjoying the woods.

The next day, we visited Totem Bight, which was a nicely set up rendering of a Tribal Clan winter “home”. We also took a half day Allen Marine tour trip to the Misty Fjords National Monument.

We boarded a ferry for Wrangell on June 7th. It was a larger ferry – the Columbia. We like the Taku better. It seems that large doesn’t necessarily give you better viewing or seating arrangements. This ferry originated in Bellingham and had campers on board. It was interesting to see how these people tied down their tents on the ferry. We had read about it but seeing is believing!

When we arrived in Wrangell, I was troubled when I realized I need to back up my camper half the ferry deck in a straight line with about a foot to spare on either side. Then, I had to back around a corner. A deck hand told me ‘Don’t worry, I’ll tell you exactly what to do.” I did and we made it! I wish he was around to guide me every time I needed to back up.