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Cruising Alaska:
Coral Princess (Southbound, Whittier - Vancouver)

by Murray Lundberg

    Day 1: Whittier
    Days 2 & 3: Hubbard Glacier & Glacier Bay
    Day 4: Skagway
    Day 5: Juneau
    Day 6: Ketchikan
    Day 7 & 8: At Sea & Vancouver

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Tuesday, June 22: This was a day I'd really been looking forward to - my wife, Cathy, took the day off work and brought our huskies Kayla and Monty down from our home near Whitehorse to see me.

This photo shows one of the more distinctive peaks along Taiya Inlet. It was shot at 4:34, about half an hour before docking at Skagway.

The sun was trying to break through the clouds, but it wasn't clear what the day would bring.

The tug Western Titan was backing out with an AMS barge. Note the scale - there's a tiny Kenworth right above the pilothouse of the tug.

Here's an example of how tiny we are in this world. When you hear of a small aircraft going missing up here, this is what the search crews are dealing with.

The Golden Princess arrived just after we docked, then the Infinity (which we sailed on in May), the Zuiderdam and a small Cruise West ship within the next hour or so. That's a fairly busy day, but not the busiest.

A look at the ship signature wall - the Canadian National Steam Ship "Prince Rupert" was added on July 19, 1930.

"Soapy Smith's Skull" was added to the wall in the early days, though nobody seems to know exactly when or even why.

The first gangway being put in, at 05:37.

Shuttle buses run constantly for those who would rather ride.

The walkway that's been built from the Railroad Dock to town over the past few years has been beautifully executed.

Cathy arrived at 10:30 - it's about a 2-hour drive, mostly along the South Klondike Highway. We had an early lunch at the Bonanza Bar & Grill, then drove over to Dyea to let the fur-kids play on the beach. The wildflowers were wonderful.

This is my favourite of the handful of historic sites left at Dyea - the rotting pilings of the wharf used by stampeders 112 years ago.

The bugs were really bad on the beach so we didn't stay as long as we had expected. There was an occasional light mist of rain, but it was barely noticeable.

Snack time for the kids.

The irises were certainly at their peak. We're always thrilled by the richness of the coast after getting used to the dry interior forests.

As in 1898, there was a great deal of money being made at Dyea today - buses were constantly bringing people to the dog sled and horse trail ride operation.

I hadn't been in to the Dyea townsite for many years and Cathy had never seen the famous "false front", so we took that short walk through the forest. The National Park Service has a Dyea walking tour brochure online.

All of the Gold Rush era buildings at Dyea were bulldozed by the guy who owned the land 50+ years ago, but this one false front somehow escaped.

Back to Skagway, where we gave the kids dinner before hiking up to Lower Reid Falls.

Lower Reid Falls. This very short trail is one of several excellent hiking trails in the Skagway area - you can pick up a free map at the National Park Service office downtown.

Devil's Club - lovely to look at, nasty to touch. I well remember this stuff from when I was a kid living on the coast - I got nailed by it many, many times.

The fast-cat dropped its last load of passengers and headed back to Haines for the night. It's passing a breakwater that was built last year. The Golden Princess was the first of the ships to leave. The Infinity was supposed to be next in line but was having "propulsion problems" and couldn't move, so we left next. I hope that the problem on my favourite ship was quickly solved.

Passing the mouth of the Katzehin River, 18 miles south of Skagway, at 10:15pm. There may some day be a highway from Juneau to this point, to make it easier for Juneauites to get Outside. All Alaska needs to do is find $400 million to make it happen - they've already spent $25 milliion studying it in recent years.

To Day 5: Juneau