My favorite thing about an Alaska cruise? The great outdoors is brought right up to my doorstep every day. Passing so close to forests in the Inside Passage you can almost smell the pine and touch the glaciers, pulling into small mountain communities that welcome nature lovers.
We pull into the lively town of Ketchikan, population 14,000, and cruise right past the tourist shops, heading directly for the Deer Mountain trailhead. As in every port, we’d rather take a walk on the wild side, than through a mall or shopping district. Apparently not everyone feels this way though. Many Oosterdam passengers seem to prefer the treasures found in the approximately 70 jewelry shops in Ketchikan, to the treasures found in nature. I guess that’s the joy of cruising— something for everyone.
Interested in taking the road less traveled? You’re in luck— America’s largest national forest, Tongass, is spread throughout the towns of Southeast Alaska, making hiking a breeze.
The Deer Mountain trailhead is a 45 minute walk uphill from the Ketchikan cruise-ship dock. We decide to hop in a cab for the 5 minute ride, costing us $10. The hike takes us through a dense old growth rainforest where plants are sprouting from every direction. It’s a magical experience for this scenery starved city girl, and I hope a life-changing one for my 12-year-old son.
We hike for almost 2 hours, seeing almost noone, then start heading back down the hill to the harbor. Along the way we pass by a couple popular tourists stops. Ketchikan is both the salmon capital and the totem pole capital and there are some great places to learn about both.
Join us tomorrow as Oosterdam sails to Victoria, capital of British Colombia.
Andrea Guthmann is a Midwest Emmy Award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist. She spent many years as a TV producer for WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago. Her writing’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites. She’s also the Midwest blogger for TravelingMom.com.
A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations. She’s thrilled to be sharing tales of her Alaskan adventure aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam through August 5th, 2012, through daily reports on AvidCruiser.com.
Disclosure: Holland America Line is hosting the author and her guest for purposes of this review.