Salmon are the lifeblood of Alaska. They return each year to spawn up her rivers and streams like many cells in the veins and arteries of the varied animals they provide substance to; eagles, bears, whales, and people alike.
The important role salmon play in this cycle of life was perhaps nowhere more evident than in Ketchikan, where salmon literally swim through the heart of town: the Creek Street Historic District.
We arrived early morning in Ketchikan with only a few short hours in port. It was too early to schedule an excursion (at least for us), so we chose instead to spend our time with a short exploratory walk around the town.
We headed away from the crowded cruise ship berths towards the Downtown National Historic District. We quickly passed the saccharine taffy shops, faux furriers, and tacky gift stores, to make our way to Creek Street, recently named to the Register of Historic Places. Creek Street has been many things over the years, from a Tlingit fish camp to the site of a sawmill, but perhaps it is best known for its bars and bawdy houses of ill-repute that catered to the loggers and fisherman of the early 20th century.
Ketchikan creek was teeming with returning salmon gathering their strength before working their way up the Ketchikan Creek falls to the fertile salmon spawning grounds (and local hatchery). But there was also a small herd of harbor seals making of game of playing with their food.
We walked the “Married Man’s Trail” towards the waterfall and the fish ladder working our way up to the spawning grounds.
We worked out way past the fish hatchery and across Ketchikan Creek to the Totem Heritage Center. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the museum, but it was interesting to see the many totems place in around Ketchikan.
We headed back to town and our ship passing by and popping into the local radio station. Our daughter works at KEXP in Seattle and we thought it would be interesting to get her some swag from KTKN/KGTW.
We left Ketchikan around lunchtime. It was a short trip but a nice walk with lots of salmon, seal, and eagles. And it was a beautiful day, the first sunny and warm day of the cruise. We took over the best viewing site in the port left corner of the Spinnaker Lounge and spent our afternoon playing dominoes and shanghai rummy watching numerous (I stopped counting gray whales after 10) whales (grays and orcas), porpoise and the beautiful islands of Alaska pass us by as we headed to Victoria and then back home to Seattle.
Goodbye Alaska. Like your returning salmon, I too am sure to return to your icy waters one day…
Timelapse of leaving Ketchikan via Tongass Narrows.
Timelapse of arriving in Victoria: