Alaska Cruise 2017: Part Five – Skagway Alaska

When we awoke on day 5 the sun was coming through the patio window as normal, and there was land not far from the starboard side of the ship (our side). Guess we had better close the curtains while we get up and get ready for the day!

Not much later, we pulled into the Skagway harbor where we were greeted with this sight. These are logos from ships, cruise lines, and other organizations that have docked here. A little unsightly considering Alaska is known for being a “natural beauty”, but I guess everyplace needs a “hook”. This must be theirs.

We disembark to meet up with the tour guide for our “Skagway In Focus” photo tour of the area. Once more we choose a photo specific tour, not so much for the learning basic camera techniques, but to have a tour that is a little slower paced and give us time to “focus” on what we want to see.  (Did you see what I did there?)  🙂

Our first stop was at the north end of Nahku Bay on the Dyea Road. During the gold rush of the late 1800s there was competition between Skagway and Dyea as to who had the best passage to the Yukon. Since Skagway had the better deep water harbor Dyea soon fell out of favor with the travelers as the larger ships began coming for the gold. Considering that Wikipedia calls Dyea “a former town”, you can guess who won that competition.

There were plenty of sea birds fishing in the bay. You can see them here fighting over a small fish. Apparently they haven’t learned to share.

And there was a herd of seals in the bay as well. While the bank was pretty steep, this one came close enough to look up at the group of photographers to try and figure out what they were doing.

I love Texas, but the mountains still take my breath away! I can’t look at them without the sense of awe at how big God is.

One of the more touristy areas in Skagway is the gold rush cemetery, where many of those who came here to find their fortunes found their final stop. Two graves to note are that of “Soapy” Smith, the town villain, who is actually buried outside of the graveyard proper, and the largest tombstone which belonged to Frank Reid, the man credited with giving his life to stop Soapy. If you want a good story, google these two and enjoy! Here is a short one just to get you started <<here>>.

On our way back to town we stopped at an overlook where we were able to get a full shot of our ship in the harbor…

And to let the tour guide take a shot of us as well!

Once the official tour was over, Karen and I took to the streets of Skagway to explore on our own some. The Camp Skagway No 1 of the Artic Brotherhood building is known as the most photographed building in Alaska. The facade, which dates to 1900, is covered with nearly 9000 pieces of driftwood in 1899.

Definitely an interesting looking building! Add my two shots to the list!

Compared to the stories about its past, Skagway seems to be a quiet little town nestled in the mountains of Alaska. However the locals tell me things can get pretty hectic when more than one cruise ship docks on the same day!

Here is a mural showing the trek up the pass that the prospectors had to take to get to the gold, while taking a ton of supplies along. The Canadian government apparently enacted that rule because they got tired of people searching for gold, running out of food, and dying on their side of the boarder. Note the pictures of Soapy and Frank Reid in the upper left corner. Frank was killed by Soapy at the Shootout on Juneau Wharf which is where Soapy was also shot, though he died later.

Yes, times were lonely for the gold miners in Skagway. Women were in short supply. No, we didn’t visit this place.

Although, I did get a picture of Karen at the “House of Negotiable Affection“. Sorry guys, her contract has already been signed and negotiations are over!

One of the early residents of modern day Skagway, not counting the native residents, was Captain William Moore. He was captain of the mail steamer Queen which was the first of the gold rush flotilla. He built this cabin and settled here. Another interesting story if you care to follow the link attached to his name.

This was the inside of his “house”. I asked about the newspaper and was told by the attendant that they recycled almost everything they could in those days. The newspaper was used as a type of insulation for the cabin.

Skagway is full of colorful buildings against the majestic mountain backdrop. They certainly play to the tourist, but what else would they do?

More colorful buildings recalling the town’s past.

I even found the local Presbyterian church! What a great place this must be for a church!

And…we finally found that turnip truck, and Karen fell off.  🙂

As we return to the ship, I take time to set Karen in place for a shot of her with the ship and mountains. Just a few of my favorite things!

And back in our stateroom, the critter showed up early today. Our cabin steward (stewardess?) was very great. Because we never knew when we would be out of the room she worked around our schedule to keep our room in tip-top shape!

While we were out walking around Skagway, the sun came out and we actually got very warm. In fact, this was the only day we had where a jacket was no longer required! We spent time in the afternoon lounging on the Serenity Desk, watching the clouds and mountains. I might have even caught a long look at the inside of my eyelids while I was there!

And, Karen skunked me again on a bald eagle that flew overhead. She’s really liking the Canon 28-300L lens that I got her for this trip. The quality and extra reach are really working out for her. Once more I was stuck with a wider angle lens as we were just walking around the ship.

From the deck of the ship you can get a nice view of the small town of Skagway nestled between the mountains. What a beautiful place!

As evening approaches we begin our departure from Skagway. Here, as the sun begins getting lower in the sky, the remaining light is only clipping the peaks of the magnificent mountains.

As we round the bend in the Chilkoot Inlet, I notice another small village across the bank.

Pulling up google maps, I find that this is the town of Haines, Alaska. Haines calls itself the “Adventure Capital of Alaska”. It sounds like a place we might wish to plan a return visit. I have also heard it is a great place for Bald Eagles!

Also in the inlet we spotted a raft of sea lions, at least I think they are. With the sun setting it is difficult to make out the ear flaps.


More mountain goodness!

Have I mentioned how much I love mountains?

Finally, the shadows of the mountains begin to fall and the valleys start to become dark. Nightfall is coming. And you know what that means?

Sunset photos! Not a lot of clouds for dramatic effect, but the orange and yellow soon start to appear in the sky.

And as the sun sets behind those beautiful mountains, we are reminded once more of what a wonderful day we have had.

Next stop, Glacier Bay National Park! Stay Tuned!

All words and photos copyright 2017 MHampton Photography
Equipment used: Canon 5DS-R, Canon 7DmII, Canon T6S, and various Canon lenses