Day 33 - Saturday - June 28 - Cone Point to Ketchikan
A look back at last nights campsite as I paddle off to Ketchikan.
It rained most of the night, but by morning, the sky was clear with a few scattered clouds. My paddling clothes were all soaking wet, and I had to put them on with the air temperature at a chilly 55 degrees. By 7:15am, I had the kayak all packed and was launching towards today’s destination, Ketchikan, Alaska. It had been 10 hard days since I left Prince Rupert and I was anxious for a shower and some restaurant meals.
Clear skies and calm seas in Revillagigedo Channel.
The scenery that had been hidden from my view for the last few days because of clouds was now clearly visible. What had before been a solid mass of gray was now a beautiful mountain range with snow capped peaks sparkling in the brilliant sunshine. I rounded Cone Point, crossed Thorne Arm, and headed up Revillagigedo Channel. As Mountain Point came into view, I started seeing the suburbs of Ketchikan taking shape along the shoreline ahead of me. The wide channel now started to be squeezed tighter finally becoming Tongass Narrows by Pennock Island.
Ketchikan comes into view.
I paddled into the Ketchikan waterfront and past two huge cruise ships tied up to the dock. The Coast Guard does not like boats coming close to the cruise ships and wants you to stay 500 feet away. They are not concerned that you might be injured as you may suppose, what they are worried about is that you might be a terrorist intent on doing harm to the ship.
Before reaching the Harbormasters office, I came across a rack full of kayaks on one of the docks so I pulled over to investigate. This turned out to be the headquarters of Southeast Sea Kayaks where I met the manager, Chelsea, right as I pulled up. She graciously checked with the owner and got permission for me to store my kayak on their rack for a couple of nights. It seemed that my good fortune was returning. After the 4-day fiasco at Cape Fox, things were starting to look up.
Let me make an important point here. Do not go to Ketchikan expecting Southeast Sea Kayaks to let you store your kayak on their dock. That is not their business. I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. A surer alternative is to arrange a mooring spot in the harbor at the Harbormasters office. That is why they are there.
I tried contacting some B&B’s that were listed on my Inside Passage recreation map and found that all within walking distance had closed. I called the local American Youth Hostel to see if they had any space. No one answered the phone so I took a walk over and was able to book a place to stay for the next two nights with the very nice young couple who were running it for the summer. After taking a shower and changing into some clean “city clothes”, I headed out looking for some lunch. A place called “Burger Queen” right by the tunnel downtown filled the bill with a great burger and fries. I went back to the boat to get all my dirty clothes and then headed off to a nearby laundermat. While my clothes were being cleaned, I called home with the news of my safe arrival in Ketchikan. I took the bus back to the hostel, stashed my clean clothes, and then went off for a walk around town.
Creek Street in Ketchikan.
After seeing some of the sights and having dinner, I got a big cup of coffee and headed back to the hostel. I ended up spending a long time talking with a young woman named Beth from Perth, Australia who was staying a few days in Ketchikan before continuing her three-month summer tour of Alaska, Canada, and the US. This was the second hostel I had stayed at on the trip and it provided everything needed for a comfortable stay while in Ketchikan. It also turned out to be a great way to meet other adventurous people with many of the same interests.