Our UnCruise ship left us in Sitka, Alaska, a quaint harbor town filled with friendly people who don’t mind visitors asking where things are or where to eat. Without a car, we stuck to downtown Sitka. A walkable area. We only had a few days, and there were plenty of scenery to discover and trails to hike.
We took a walk through the hemlock and Sitka spruce and alder trees by the bay on a gravel and boardwalk path. Piers, playgrounds, and park benches—some in the shape of sea animals—lined the trail. Kids were fishing for salmon in the bay. They watched the salmon swim by and cast their lines with spinners on them. They didn’t have much luck as we looked on, but they enjoyed sharing their tales of the one that got away with us.
This boardwalk and gravel path led to Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska’s warmest, wettest, and oldest national park, according to the guide. It features two miles of maintained trails through the rain forest along the Indian River, or “Kaasdaa Heen” in Tlingit. [From All About Sitka 2023-2024 newspaper]
We learned so much from the cultural center and totem pole museum. The bear always has his tongue out on the totem and has clawed feet. The eagle has no ears and has reddish clawed feet. The raven has human-looking, black legs and feet and ears. A person with a top hat-type hat at the top of the totem is the village watchman.
Within the park, Totem Pole Trail features red cedar totem poles of Tlingit and Haida Indigenous artwork, according to the guide.
We rested on the benches along the trail. I took a side trip and walked on the beach. Various rocks, each telling their own history, crowded the beach. Craggy mountaintops pierced a blue sky. Snatches of snow tucked into crooks and cervices of these peaks. Peaks that glaciers hadn’t scoured smooth. Thickly forested mountains flanked them. The bay glistened in the foreground.
We crossed the footbridge over Indian River to the Russian Memorial for the battle of Sitka 1804. The history between Russia and the Tlingit is fascinating. The park’s website has an informative video of the “Voices of Sitka.” This is what they show visitors at the park.
The next day it was misty in the harbor. I went out on an adventure anyway, wearing raingear. I saw a guy filleting “silver” salmon, carving the fillets off like they were butter. Another fisherman told me that the salmon are fighters when you catch them. He’s lived in Sitka his whole life. He’s seen the aurora borealis a few times. [Lucky him!] He said Sitka gets about 8 inches of snow a year. The sea keeps the temperature mild. That’s why they have a rain forest. Sitka gets rain, a little snow, and then rain again.
The point of our adventures in Sitka was to slow down. To stop and notice our surroundings, the people we engage in conversation. This is what nourishes our souls. Nature. Visiting new areas, new people. Listening. Learning new things. Sometimes we need to rest from the hurry-hurry of life. From the hurry-hurry of vacation. This is what nature and visiting other areas of the world provides for me and my family. How about yours?
Thanks for stopping by Camping with Five Kids. I hope your Thanksgiving is restful and full of meaningful conversation. Enjoy!