Inside Passage: Ketchikan

Our small cruise ship docked at Ketchikan, Alaska, in the morning. With an afternoon flight, we walked through town and saw old totem poles.

We looked for spawning salmon in Ketchikan Creek, but the salmon run was late due to low rainfall and water flow.

The Totem Heritage Center has 19th-century totem poles retrieved from Native villages. The totem poles are weathered because they’re wooden and were left outside for decades in a wet climate. For example, Ketchikan gets 160 inches of rainfall a year. Totems were carved to tell a story, but the stories were lost after the Alaska Natives left their villages a century ago.

These old photos show Alaska Natives in ceremonial clothing.

Walking by a local grocery store, Tatsuda’s, we went in to browse. A local man was buying cans of salmon to take to family in Arizona. Following his example, we bought several cans, and they turned out to be excellent — rectangular pieces of lightly-smoked salmon placed in the can.

Finally, we walked back to the port and saw a large cruise ship and the Wilderness Explorer tied up to the pier on the right. Huge difference between the ships.

big cruise ship with Wilderness Explorer on the right
big cruise ship with Wilderness Explorer in the distance

Sailing the Inside Passage on a small ship, we sailed, hiked and kayaked Alaska’s vast and beautiful wilderness — enjoying fjords, glaciers, whales, orcas, and rainforests — up close and personal, without a crowd.



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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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