Haines, Alaska (with a visit to Skagway)

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This area has been settled by the matrilineal Tlingit for 8000 years. The town sits in a (currently) tranquil fiord and gently responds to tourists and changing seasons. The channel here does not support docking of multiple cruise ships so there is less attendant consumer economy on shore but still plenty of access to the things that support a comfortable life style.

I got a bed in a hostel cabin for 25$ a night and the owner welcomed Selkie. His 11 and 13 year old sons help maintain the place so things are unevenly managed but the price is right and I have no complaints.

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(Above is NOT my lodging. It is Fort Seward, from the bad old days of dispute with Canada.)

On Day One I explored out toward Battery Point but didn’t quite make it. It wasn’t just my complaining knee but also my fear of bears that turned me around when I got to a meadow dense with cow parsnip and lots of large animal sign. Just after that a young man whisked through on his way back to start sourdough at the bakery where he works. He had seen a pod of dolphin and was in a great mood and said I should walk out with him next time so I wouldn’t feel alone and he told me how to find him. IMG_2528

I visited stores and cafes and had sweet little conversations everywhere I went. ‘Even found an art exhibit with little peace flags, pussy hats and little felted demonstrator grannies with big tennis shoes.

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Lastly I followed the Chilcoot River out to the lake and saw this little bear fishing at the weir.

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That evening the only FM station was playing Chopin. The sun came out and I got some beautiful photos of the area. I was as elated as the young man who’d seen dolphins. IMG_2597

Day 2 On my Fast Ferry trip to Skagway with Selkie I had a very dog-centric experience. Of the thousands of people visiting that commercial tourism center I’d say a quarter of the ones I got within 20 feet of wanted to comment on or pet the dog. I think she liked it but it was exhausting for me.

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The only parts of the town I enjoyed was a relatively quiet outdoor salad and seeing salmon swimming their ancient way upstream in the little creek paralleling town.

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Day 3 was my last day to piece together the (accessible) geography experientially. Today I went out the Mud Flat Road to Chilkat State Park, which is less visited that the Chilcoot inlet on the other side of town. From there I could see the incredible hanging Rainbow Glacier with the grand waterfall below it as well as dolphin and bald eagle.

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I drove up the Chilkat inlet later in the day, on the Haines Highway I will take when leaving town, I saw no more eagles but there were miles and miles of incredible scenery. So much so that I had to stop and rest from grandeur fatigue.

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