Petersburg, Alaska
July 1, 2010 - July 12, 2010

7 July 2010


Today was a very warm and sunny day and I got my first view of the mountains around us. It actually got up into the 70's and between today and Thursday I managed to get a sunburn on my nose.

The view from the boat on the ride back to Papke's Landing

We had a lot that we needed to do to get my friend's boat ready to go into the water. It had been dry docked since last summer and was at the repair shop getting a tune up. We finally got everything we needed; gas, the anchor, oil, etc and hooked up the boat to put it into the water.

We backed down the boat ramp at Papke's landing and got the boat into the water. I pulled the truck up to the parking area while my friend was checking the boat out doing a few laps to make sure everything was okay, when the plug that allows you to drain the water out of the boat popped out. The unfortunate side effect of this is it also allows water to drain IN TO the boat. He quickly pulled the boat to shore and called me over to grab the towline so he could go back up and grab the truck. He backed the truck back down the ramp and I got into the truck so I could pull up when the boat was on the trailer. I was impressed as he stood waist deep in the cold ocean water and fought not only the boat filling with water but also the tide trying to move the boat away. The wind seemed to be on the side of the tide also trying to push the boat sideways and away from the trailer. He finally manhandled the boat into the trailer and I pulled it up enough for all the water to drain out.

After all the water drained out we reseated the plug and I backed the trailer back down into the water for our second attempt. This time we had success and he did a few laps and motored the boat over to the dock to tie it up. We had a few more errands to run before we could actually take out the boat but we were soon back, got into the boat and cast off for Castle Island.

The boat ride was great, it was warm and sunny for the first time since I arrived and the sun felt wonderful on my face as we made are way out. For the first time I really got to see the mountains around us. I didn't realize how much I had been missing with all the cloud cover and was amazed at how beautiful everything was. We motored down the Wrangell Narrows, around the Lindenberg Peninsula, and up the Duncan Canal to get to Castle Island.

We pulled up to Castle Island and I know words won't do it justice. We came up on the island on the side that was a sheer rock face with trees growing around and in the rocks. We pulled into a little cove and up to a rocky beach. The rocks were difficult to walk on, they were sharp and covered in barnacles. We made our way up the rocky beach and into the thick trees. The rocks were immense and all around us as we made our way into the trees towards a naturally formed rock cave. We had to climb over fallen trees to get into the cave and it truly felt like I was in the wild. The cave itself was about 25 feet deep and about 30 feet high. I walked into the cave and put my hand against the wall. It made me think of cave paintings and I almost expected to see a stylized painting of a salmon or halibut. You could see where large rocks had fallen from the sides of the cave onto the floor and it felt dangerous and exiting at the same time. I walked into the cave and put my hand on the wall, aware that anything could cause a rock slide. There was a pile of sand in the back of the cave that had slide down from above. The entire back wall was sand and I was unsure where it came from. Someone had made crude benches and there was a fire pit in the center of the cave. I couldn't imaging spending time in a place that constantly felt like it could crumble at any minute.


Castle Island
Click thumbnails to enlarge

The trees we crawled through to get to the cave
Moss grows everywhere
Low tide
The smaller rock outcropping did not touch the other rocks
Across the inlet
This rock was about 20 feet high
Rock slide

We got back into the boat and I was very thankful for my waterproof hiking boots. My feet never got wet or cold but there were many times during this trip that I had to stand in a few inches of ocean water to get in to or out of a boat. I turned and watched the island and we moved away from it. It's such an amazingly beautiful place.

As we were motoring back towards Papke's landing my friend would point out different things and explain them to me. There were houses on islands that were not connected in anyway to modern technology. They had to use generators or solar panels for electricity, catch rain water and use pumps for running water, and use satellite dishes for connections to the outside world. It was beautiful and strange all at the same time.

At some points during our journey back the wind would pick up and in tandem so would the ocean swells. I enjoyed the feeling of the skiff jumping the larger swells and was very thankful for the cushion between my butt and the metal seat! When we hit the larger swells the ocean spray would hit me in the face. I found myself leaning into it enjoying every moment of the experience.

We made our way back to Papke's Landing and I jumped out to hold the tow line. As I was standing there...

an eagle landed on the pylon next to the one I was leaning on. He had a fish in his talons and from 20 feet away I watched him tear into it and start eating. At one point he looked up with a large filet just hanging from his beak. I would have loved to take a picture but my camera was in the boat and my hands were full with the tow line. He finally decided he'd had enough of an audience for his dinner and grabbed what was left of the fish and flew away.

We got back to the house and exhausted from the day I ate leftover pizza from the day before that I was too tired to even heat up. I fell into bed soon after. It was a great day.