The final two legs of our Alaska trip took us in different directions: south to Tracy Arm on His Idea – so we could share that memorable experience with our daughter Vanessa, who joined us for a week – and north via ferry to Skagway. The second leg gave us a chance to see the Lynn Canal, plus the opportunity to take the White Pass and Yukon Railroad along the path of the Klondike goldrush.
Although it was the second time for us, Tracy Arm did not disappoint, with even bigger icebergs and clearer waters that allowed us to get closer to the face of the North Arm Glacier (perhaps our growing familiarity with these waters had increased our confidence…..or made us more foolish).
The excursion to Skagway and beyond was a nice change. Someone else was doing the driving, we had a chance to regain our ‘land legs’, and interesting history that shaped both Alaska and the Yukon was on full display. If you plan on visiting this part of Alaska, taking a trip on the ‘narrow gauge’ WP&YR is highly recommended. The inland Alaska and Yukon scenery also made a major impression, so much so that we’ve been inspired to return on a road trip one day.
After an unexpected overnight delay in Skagway – our small plane, a Cessna Caravan, was grounded due to poor visibility along the Lynn Canal – we bid farewell to Vanessa on July 27th. It was time to start the journey home, with a deadline to be back in Vancouver by no later than mid-August.
Fortunately the sea conditions continued to be favourable. Although very windy weather in the straits north of Ketchikan caused a further days’ delay, and foggy conditions with visibility less than a quarter mile slowed us down a few times, the rest of the trip was generally calm all the way back to Vancouver. With respect to navigating in foggy conditions, this trip necessitated greater use of our radar and VIS (ship identification) systems than ever before. Although dense fog is still somewhat unsettling, this experience has served to boost our capabilities and confidence with these technologies, which is a good thing.
Our trip to Alaska was interesting, enjoyable, and at times exciting. It turned out to be cooler and damper than expected, however the seas were more friendly, a very fair trade in any seafarer’s book. It exceeded our expectations, and will remain a highlight of our cruising adventures. Although we probably won’t cruise as far north as Alaska again – it’s a long way – we’ll likely return to explore the mid-coast again, where we barely scratched the surface of all there is to see there.
We hope you enjoyed our pictures and commentary. Thanks for joining us.
(Note: The usual trip stats will follow the pictures.)