Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Petersburg, Alaska

I visited Petersburg, AK during mid-January via the Alaska Marine Highway (the best way to travel in southeast Alaska, in my opinion).  It rained almost constantly while I was there, due to an unusually persistent series of storm systems emanating from the northern Pacific.  However, rain is something we are all used to in southeastern Alaska, and it didn't stop me from getting out to see the town and surrounding wilderness.  Day one was dedicated to exploring the landscape south of Petersburg along the Mitkof Highway, which is situated along the Wrangell Narrows.  The scenery was spectacular, with mountains surrounding both sides of the Narrows, and waterfalls cascading down road cuts.  There was also a stretch of road located along an area of bogs and marshes.  Camping sites were numerous along the highway, and would be a major reason for me to return in the future due to their location along the channels.

I hit the local bars each night I was in town (Harbor Bar and Kito's Kave), and had a great time interacting with the locals.  Several different groups of people took me around downtown in between a few drinks.  This working class fishing town definitely knows how to unwind at night.  During the final day of my visit, I hiked from downtown to the Sandy Beach Recreation Area, and then walked a couple miles of trail under a rainforest canopy located adjacent to Frederick Sound.  The rugged trail was interwoven with periods of forest solitude occasionally broken by clearings that revealed the glaciated peaks of the Coast Range.  I then walked back into town, caught the second half of an NFL playoff game at Kito's Kave, and then jumped back onto the ferry for a return trip to Juneau.

The pace of life is slow in Petersburg, even slower than Juneau.  And in some strange sense, I think it has helped me slow down my outlook on life in Alaska, and allows me to better appreciate the community I'm embedded within.

Downtown Petersburg, AK.
Fishing dock in Petersburg, AK.
Small farm located across Wrangell Narrows from downtown Petersburg.
View of the Coast Mountains.
Trail leading away from Sandy Beach Recreation Area.
Small road cut waterfall located along Mitkof Highway.
Sandy Beach Recreation Area.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Aurora Rings in the New Year

An active vivid aurora occurred over Juneau a few days after the new year.  I was working a midnight shift at the NWS office.  A coworker went outside to take a weather observation, and then came back inside stating that the northern lights were on display.  I subsequently spent the rest of the night going outdoors to photograph the aurora in between updates to the local weather forecast.  The aurora continued after my shift was over, so I headed out to Mendenhall Glacier and continued photography until the sun started to brighten the sky in the southern horizon.  A full moon added further drama to the surrounding landscape.