Emerald Lake, Yukon Territory
Pomeranians in saddlebags.
Our next destination was Skagway, and from there, Yukon Territory. We decided to go on a horseback ride to see more of this beautiful land.
We climbed over amazing ridgetops, all with spectacular views.
Views like this!
We are such tourists!
Mbala and I in an obligatory photo.
This bear was actually massive!
We saw quite a few bears on our trip - including one large grizzly wandering the shore when we went whalewatching later in the trip. It was my first time seeing wild bears!
Not sure I'd want to ride those rails!
Even the glass detailing on the power lines was amazing to see.
Old Yukon rails.
Aaand, back to Alaska again!
The views from the ship were really beautiful all the time, it was nice to sit on the decks and watch the water go by. I liked that the ship was pretty much a mobile hotel - we were off the boat most all day and came back for dinner and to sleep then woke up in a new place.
The ship itself was really posh, with a casino, multiple fancy restaurants and this - a large theatre.
Though, ships like this are more interesting to look at!
There were eagles *everywhere*. Like sparrows. It was funny to see the passengers - in the beginning everyone was 'oooooh!
Again with the eagles. I've never seen so many in one place - we actually got to watch them fishing on the ocean, which was awesome! And groups of them interacting.
We then went to Icy Strait Point and walked to the nearby town of Hoonah. We met some amazing people there, locals who lived sustainably by hunting caribou and salmon, guiding people to see bears during the tourist season. It was really neat!
We went whalewatching on a small boat with some locals – Roman was fascinated by the equipment.
We saw lots of porpoises, and then found a group of three humpback whales. We followed them, and watched them surface to breathe and then dive down again. It was really surreal!
The following day we went kayaking in Orca bay. There were so many neat starfish and crabs in the shallow inlets and tons of interesting jellyfish. We ended up in pretty angry waters outside of the inlets on the ocean which was also amazing to experience. I love kayaking!
We were able to kayak up close to a pair of eagles nesting on a small island.
After kayaking we chartered a flight on a little floatplane. It landed to pick us up right off our boat.
The tiny plane was so amazing!
I got to 'co-pilot'. :) I have never flown in a plane where we had windows open while flying - crazy!
We flew over the Misty Fjords national park and had amazing, clear weather - apparently a rarity there.
Flying in between towering cliffs was really incredible.
(This is not one of my photos, but is a natural rock island we flew around that was really a spectacular highlight so I wanted to share it
Huge Alaskan ravens in Ketchikan.
This painting is the essence of Alaska. It is what Alaska was like all the time.
All in all it was an incredible trip. I was a bit dubious about the cruise itself before we went (we usually like to travel very simply and flexibly) - but it was a great experience. Because of the difficulty of getting around the coast of Alaska (it would be next to impossible by car) it was a great way to see a lot of the state. I know I'll never be the sort of person to want to sit on a boat around the Caribbean but I would consider doing a cruise again!
The one thing I brought back from Alaska was an ulu knife - with a caribou antler handle, something I've always wanted to have. It's great for cutting up onions!
I think the most amusing thing about the trip was that almost to a person, when we said we were from Minnesota, reacted with 'Ooh, that's that cold state!' - native Alaskans saying that. True, the coast, where most people live is much more temperate than we are here - I am sure the people in Fairbanks wouldn't make that claim (though we do get to -40/-50 with some regularity and parts of MN can get down to -80 before windchill!) - it made me laugh.
I would really like to return sometime, I was invited to come spend some time doing an internship at the musk ox farm and volunteering in their busy season. I think this should be combined with a roadtrip up to Denali, I do. :)