Subject: Alaska Dispatch #3 - from Skagway, AK
Greetings from Alaska! I just typed out a lengthy travelogue that apparently got lost in cyberspace, so if this ends up being a duplicate, please pardon.

I neglected to mention in my last dispatch that we had a wonderful dinner in Prince Rupert - local sockeye (red) salmon from the Skeena. Yum.

Saturday morning we took a taxi down to the ferry terminal. The weather continued overcast and misty. Waited in line for what seemed like forever to check in (had already purchased tickets via internet), and then waited yet longer to board. Waiting in line seems a staple feature of ferry travel; that's been our experience so far, at least.

Another feature we discovered is that the ferry docks are often a few miles from the towns en route. I think I had a vague idea of this fact, but it hadn't really hit home until our first stop at Ketchikan. Of course, our first priority there was to retrieve our luggage from the car deck so we could dress a bit more warmly. For the remainder of the time in port we walked about the terminal area, checked out the Lost at Sea Memorial.

Since the weather was still foggy and wet, combined with a stiff breeze when the ferry was underway, we spent most of that day relaxing inside ... napping in our cabin, eating in the cafeteria (another incredibly slow line, but decent food), reading in the lounge (good beer, Alaskan Amber). Couldn't see much because of the fog, though there was plenty of daylight. Still not used to having so much light at 10pm! Slept very well, only vaguely aware of the stops at Wrangell and Petersburg.

Sunday we disembarked for a slightly longer docking at Juneau, but since the dock there is 14 miles from town, we opted instead to take a jaunt up the road. Visited the Auke Village Recreation Area. Saw someone preparing to scuba dive. We weren't tempted. As we left Juneau the sun began to peek through, and there was much rejoicing. :)

The clearing trend continued, and the remainder of the trip up to Skagway was perfectly gorgeous - snowy mountains on either side, bald eagles, cascades down the mountainsides. We even saw a humpbacked whale! The whole boat came alive for the whale siting.

Arrived late in Skagway; easily found Dyea Dave's yellow van, but no sign of his person. Laura went to investigate and found his sister, who was taking his run since the ferry was late. She shuttled a van load of Germans to her hostel in Skagway, then came back to take us to Dyea before she was due to board the ferry herself at 9pm. She had been a ranger on the Chilkoot Trail for many years; when Laura asked for her best tip, she said, "Don't spend the whole hike looking at your feet!" She clearly loved the trail and it was inspiring to listen to her. As we drove up the valley she gave us a great tour, explaining the history and geography. We had a real treat, too - going along the Dyea tidal plane we saw two bald eagles doing their mating dance, where they lock talons and momentarily free fall. Amazing! I only caught a glimpse at the end; Laura saw a bit more.

Now we're ensconced at the Chilkoot Outpost, a brand new B&B very near the trail head in Dyea. It's a wonderful place. Last night after checking in I joined the communal campfire where our hostess showed us how to make the best s'mores I've ever eaten. This morning's breakfast was hearty and quite delicious. We snagged a ride back into Skagway so we could get our trail permits and run errands.

Tomorrow we hike. By the next time I write, we will have conquered the Chilkoot, Lord willing. :)

Cindy currently in Skagway, AK