We were in The Alexander Archipelago Forest reserve, which formed the heart of the Tongass National Forest that covers most of the region. The Tongass National Forest is in Southeast Alaska. We started our trip in Ketchikan one of the islands. Just image, we were in the largest national forest in The United States at 17 million acres. For 14 days we were immerse in its vastness.
I thought wilderness was lost from Earth. Now I can say there are spots on The Globe where humans have not put a foot on them.
We visited part of the temperate rainforest eco region. It is remote enough to be home to many species of endangered and rare flora and fauna. We found the biggest slugs, among other things.
One day while walking around the Carlanna Lake in Ketchikan, we heard the frogs in an intimate symphony with the buzzing bugs and the singing waters from the flowing river. It was a beautiful experience with on and off little rain. Majestic silver silky reflections of the skies, and the woods; like a perfect mirror. The hiking was invigorating and rewarding, the lake is about one mile following the trail for visitors surrounded by luscious vegetation.
Some other time, in one of our tours by boat, between the coasts of Wrangler and Ketchikan; the tour guide, Max, explained how timber was at first the principal source of commerce in the region. Also, the archipelago, was for a little time part of the route to the Klondike, but people found inland routes soon. Later, fishing came to the islands to stay.
We thought we were far, really north; but Max, revealed that by plane from Washington to Ketchikan is only one hour and a half. If the distance is covered navigating by the ocean, you do it in 20 hours at 40 miles per hour.
Max told us about a race. The race goes through an inside passage from Washington to Alaska. The passage has been paddled by native canoes, sailing craft, and steamboats for centuries. Nowadays, people, also race in this passage; it is a yearly event called Race to Alaska or R2AK. It is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind powered race, and currently the largest cash prize for a race of its kind.
Organizers say; “It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.” “You go for 750 miles no motors no supports all the way to Alaska”. Maybe one day we will participate.
We admired the Totems. They are all over Alaska. In Ketchikan there are much more totems than other islands. They are monumental poles of heraldry. They can feature many different designs like bears, birds, frogs, people, and various supernatural beings and aquatic creatures that function as crests of families or chiefs. They recount stories owned by those families or chiefs, or commemorate special occasions.These stories are known to be read from the bottom of the pole to the top.
A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe. The term totem is common to a number of cultures worldwide. However, the traditional people of those cultures have words for their guardian spirits in their own languages, and do not call these spirits or symbols “totems”.
We went to a little exhibit of a replica of a town with many totems and houses with beautiful totem like paintings in the outside and inside walls of the houses.
In Ketchikan we stayed at a B&B house, in “The Raven Room” with several pictures, sculptures and items with ravens or related to ravens decorations. The walls, blankets and towels were purple. The bedroom had a very comfortable covered terrace with a pretty view of the ocean and a well manicured garden. The garden had artistic niches with little statues. There was a railing adjacent to a veranda with the sculpture of guess what? A raven! This one was made by Nathan Jackson, famous sculptor from the Raven Clan. The raven looked so real, infused with a special calmed attitude inviting you to pet it.
Eating ginormous crab legs, succulent wild salmon, mussels, raw fish, crab cakes, scrumptious desserts; drinking the best hard cider and memorable beer was Ketchikan treat. Ah! The water, just plain water was really something we enjoyed at all times. In our daytime excursions we covered Ketchikan museums, its old town made all with wood, even its little streets built above the river, very picturesque. Ending with nice souvenir stores. What marvelous time!