First stop in AK was Ketchikan which I loved, except… the downtown “heart” itself, not so much. It’s a town with a population of about 8k and with a daily cruise ship influx of more than 8k so it’s really impossible to maintain any kind of authentic character in a situation like that. I’m speaking from experience. I lived in Key West for 12 years and when I first moved there there was little to no cruise ship traffic and after they opened the floodgates and the onslaught began local’s stopped going within about a mile of the docks except to work the ship trade. Likewise, anything within a mile of the docks in Ketchikan had all the usual suspects: overpriced food catered to patrons that will never be seen again, jewelry shop after jewelry shop (seriously, just how many jewels are these cruisers buying?), and authentic Alaskan wares made in china. I understand the financial temptation of allowing cruise ships into your small town and I’m sure it’s a great business move but nothing of the original character will be left after the deal is done. That said, just a short distance to the north – a mile – and you’re back in what I imagine was like the Ketchikan of 20 years earlier: a bit rundown and real. Very nice.
Passing what appears to be the super-discount ferry.
My very excellent camping spot in the National Forest at Ward Lake about 15 min or so from Ketchikan.
I finally got to do a bit of fly fishing in Ward Creek that feeds into Ward lake. My very first Alaskan fish on the fly!
Ok, things got a bit better after that.
Unfortunately, even while catching those I was watching these guys swim around my feet! I actually did hook one up but like a bonehead I forgot to swap out my leaders and only had stuff for eastern, small-stream trout fishing, the heaviest of which was 5x (4.75 lbs) so that fight lasted about as long as it took for the salmon to realize he’d been hooked.
While fishing I’d occasionally hear a whoosh whoosh whoosh and look up to see a Bald Eagle flying down the river – this is serious eagle country. This shabby looking fellow landed on a branch about 20′ above the river presumably to see if I’d catch a fish he could poach and then just sat there watching me disapprovingly as I fished beneath him.