Saying goodby to the small hamlet of Myers Chuck, we have another beautiful day as we enter Ernest Sound. It is only May and the temperatures are in the 70’s with bright sun. We stop for several hours in search of a Halibut. We catch several nice size Rockfish. The largest is a Yelloweye weighing in at 11 pounds but no halibut.
Thoms Place, one of our favorite anchorages, is our home for the evening. Not wanting to put down the dinghy, we decide to try a new method for putting out our crab traps. Our inflatable paddle board is extremely rigid and easy to deploy and maneuver. We had good success here last year with the crabbing so we have high hopes. So far this year, we have been struggling to get one or two crabs per day. This is a great spot to try the paddle board as we can set the traps just a few feet from the boat. Our new method proves to be highly successful. We find our pots full of crab and manage to get our limit of 3 each in the evening and also again the next morning. Thoms Place has renewed our hopes for crabbing.
The snow capped mountains come into view as we work our way along the eastern side of Wrangell Island to the small town of Wrangell. The water turns to a milky green as we near the Stikine River with its glacial runoff from the Shakes Glacier and others further up stream in British Columbia. We are surprised to see the Star Legend at the docks when we arrive. We spent a month on this ship in January cruising SE Asia. Wrangell is primarily a fishing town with a population of 2000 but is starting to cater to tourists.
The Stikine River delta which runs 330 miles through British Columbia and Alaska is just outside of town. We sign up with Alaska Adventures to take us by jet boat up the shallow river delta. Stikine means Great River. It is the fastest flowing navigable River in North America as well as being one of only a few remaining free-flowing rivers. We have a fun day with our tour guide Mike as he expertly maneuvers his speedy jet boat around the shallow sandbars of the river. You have to know what you are doing to run this river. Our first stop is the Shakes Glacier. This non tidal glacier gently terminates at the head of the bay. We don’t see or hear any calving but it must be going on as we must weave between several large ice bergs. Continuing up the Stikine River, we spend some time enjoying the Chief Shakes Hot Springs. Where else but Alaska would you find a hot tub in the middle of the wilderness. This wooden tub was built by the Forrest Service for everyone to enjoy. The warm water is awesome on the cool and rainy day.
Back in town, we spent one afternoon hiking to Petroglyph Beach. This State Historic Site contains the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Southeast Alaska. These boulders were probably carved by the Tlingit 1000 years ago. Although some archeologist believe they could be more than 8000 years old. We had a good time searching out a few of the over 400 petroglyphs along this public beach.
About five miles outside of town is the Rainbow Falls trailhead. Since we are riding our bikes there, we opted not to bring the bear gun but do carry our bear spray and bear bells. Noisily clanging our bells we encounter a hiker coming down from the shelter 2 ½ miles away. We couldn’t help but notice his sidearm as he tells us it would be wise to have a gun when hiking up to the shelter. Two weeks ago a brown bear pulled a sleeping hiker by his sleeping bag outside of his tarp enclosure . At first he thought it was friends pulling a prank on him. He wasn’t injured but the Forrest Service later had to put the bear down. Susie’s mind is quickly made up and we hike only the one mile trail to the falls. We will save the shelter for another time.
After a busy three days in Wrangell we are ready to move on. Tomorrow’s travel will take us through the Wrangell Narrows to the Norwegian town of Petersburg.
Thanks for following along.