24-27 August 2006
Days 37-40: Skagway, AK
Another long, bumpy, rainy/foggy drive into Skagway. The weather didn't really improve while we were there, which put a bit of a damper on some of our sightseeing. Skagway is a nice little town that caters to the cruise ships that arrive daily in the harbor. There were as many as 3 ships in the harbor at the same time while we were there. Skagway is surrounded by mountains - the famous Chilkoot Trail starts here (a route over a high mountain pass taken by many gold rushers). We got up the first 40' or so - can't imagine what it'd be like in the dead of winter with big packs on your back!
I was expecting a FedEx package to be waiting for me, but, to my chagrin, FedEx doesn't deliver in Skagway (despite their assurances to the sender that they do). They leave the package with the USPS in Anchorage (!!), and it can take 3 weeks to arrive in Skagway. I am hoping the package can be retrieved by FedEx for return to the sender.
We took a 3 hour train ride on the White Pass and Yukon RR - the scenery was fantastic. (The White Pass was an alternate route for the people headed to the gold fields - before the train lines went through). We also, as a group, took a boat ride to Juneau, which is across the sound. The waves were at least 6-8 feet, with really high winds. The boat was a relatively small catamaran, and the waves were coming up over the top of the cabin. We thought it was calmer when it came time to return to Skagway, but the open water was just as bad, if not worse. Apparently, during the trip back, a crack developed in the hull, and one of the engines got wet and had a problem. They took a tour group out the next day, and then had to fly them all back from Juneau! The boat is now out of commission! Makes me wonder how at risk tourists may be when tour owners won't cancel trips because they want the income. (We couldn't see the outer harbor and open water from the dock at the inner bay where we boarded).
While we were in Juneau, a bus took us to see the Mendenhall Glacier, which was beautiful. It seems like there are glaciers everywhere! Many of us did some window shopping while we were in Skagway and Juneau. Lots of nice things. I found a great quilt shop in Skagway, and bought 4 quilt kits with designs that will go well in the house in Bucksport (once I get them made!) I also bought some of the super soft (and super expensive) Qiviuk (Muskox) yarn. I'm looking forward to working with that.