Alaska Cruise – Ketchikan & final days

Our final port of the trip! We definitely made this an epic stop: the guys went fishing and I went on a hike! Even better: as we finished breakfast while approaching port we were greeted by a bunch of whales right outside our dining room window!

Jon was definitely interested in trying to go salmon fishing as an excursion on our trip. Tim and David were also interested, but it was really early in the season for salmon fishing. Thankfully, Tim found a good tour operator who was honest with them about that fact, and suggested that they try for halibut first since that WAS in season, and if they wanted to switch over to salmon they could. This turned out to be a good suggestion, since everyone caught halibut!

The guys motored for about an hour to the fishing grounds, seeing whales and porpoises along the way. It was super cold at first, but it ended up being a beautiful day!

Everyone started off bottom fishing for halibut and Jon was the first to catch a halibut – within the first 10-15 minutes! It was about 33″ – a keeper for sure! The guys continued to catch fish – several “rock fish,” two smaller halibut (“chickens”) that they decided not to keep (since you can only keep one per person) and the most unique catch of the day – Tim’s “dog fish”. There were lots of exciting false alarms throughout the morning… when Tim caught the dog fish they thought they had a big keeper halibut, and they thought the smallest of the keepers was a real monster because it took nearly twice as long to reel in. When it was all said and done, they ended up with “keeper” halibut within just two hours! A very busy and fulfilling morning of fishing.

Since the plan was to hopefully limit out on halibut and switch over the salmon, their guide had strategically taken them to a halibut fishing spot that was just minutes away from a salmon fishing spot. So, after limiting out, they switched gears to start trolling with two poles setup off the back of the boat.

The guide warned them that he hadn’t landed a keeper salmon yet this season; and the entire fleet was only catching one a day. But it had been a banner day so far, and their luck continued and they got a big hit right away. Unfortunately, they lost that first fish but it got everyone really excited. Ultimately, they caught several juvenile “shaker” salmon that were too small to keep and then David landed a 20 lb keeper King Salmon.

After a very successful day fishing, they discussed the shipping options on the way back into shore. They had caught a lot of fish!! David generously offered to cover the costs to have them prepared and shipped back to Tim and Ruth’s house. The rock fish, which couldn’t be thrown back, were donated to a local charity.

All in all, it was a banner day for fishing, as everyone caught a “big one” and plenty of little ones that they didn’t keep as well!

While the guys were fishing, I headed off to Deer Mountain to attempt to make it to the summit. The season for this hike is typically June – September. Sooner than June you run the risk of the trail be snowed over. I figured it was worth the risk since the weather had been really nice the last few weeks, and the weather was perfect for hiking today. Bonus: this trail is considered one of the best day hikes due to it’s close proximity to town and the panoramic views that you earn. Although the trailhead was only 1.5 miles from the cruise ship terminal area, it is UPHILL. I didn’t know how arduous the hike would be, so I took a taxi to the trailhead.

My goal was to make it the 3.35 miles one way to the summit, hiking up over 3,000′ of elevation gain. The trail quickly began to switchback through moss-covered trees. The sound of running water was everywhere! After about 40 minutes, I reached the first view point, and it was just like the best pictures I saw on AllTrails! I was so lucky to have such a beautiful day, I couldn’t believe it. As I soaked in the views a huge blue jay kept me company, which was also super neat!

Continuing on, the trail continued to switchback and was very wet – at points water fully covered the trail and was essentially a shallow stream running down the trail! I walked carefully through the wet spots and eventually the trail began to reach the top of the tree line and I came across my first patches of snow just before reaching the second view point. The trail got a little confusing here, with the offshoot to the view point being just that – an off shoot. I worked my way back and continued along the trail which was quickly and suddenly covered in surprisingly deep snow.

At first I was able to follow others tracks through the snow but eventually reached a point where all that was ahead of me was a field of snow – no trail, no footprints. Being alone and with no other hikers in sight, I decided that it would be safest to turn back. I was about 2/3 of the way to the summit.

I knew that this had been a possible outcome for my day, so I wasn’t too disappointed not to make it all the way. The views thus far had been great, and the weather had held up perfectly. Heading down, I actually ended up taking a different route, although I don’t recall seeing any splits in the trail on the way up!

Since I wasn’t able to complete the full hike, I figured I owed myself a walk back to town. All in all, I got in about 6 miles and my feet were tired!! After a brief rest back on ship, Ruth and I met up to get some food and head out to explore Ketchikan.

As we were walking around, I couldn’t believe how tired I was. My feet were really tired of course, but my whole body was really tired too. It turned out that I was getting sick, which was a major bummer but I’m so glad it didn’t happen until the end of our trip, and we were still able to do pretty everything that we wanted to do.

We departed Ketchikan at 6 pm and began our 549 mile cruise back to Vancouver. We’d be cruising all day Friday, our last full day on the ship to make it back. Everyone had a relaxing day, and especially me – I pretty much rested in the room all day until dinner time.

Saturday we arrived back in port in Vancouver, and had a leisurely morning since our group didn’t disembark until about 9 AM. So we all enjoyed one last breakfast on the ship, then relaxed in our rooms until it was time to go. The entire disembarking process was super fast and easy – I think we kept waiting to find the line that wasn’t there. A great way to end the cruise in light of how much longer the boarding process took.

Looking back over the last week, we really couldn’t have asked for a better cruising experience. I would definitely recommend an Alaska cruise to everyone, even people (like me!) that aren’t big on cruises. Our particular itinerary was perfect as well, since you never were cruising for so long that you got bored/felt trapped on the boat. One day at a time was so great, since you got to relax a bit between the ports which were much more go-go-go, see-see-see. And we got SO lucky with the weather!

 

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