Haines. The adventure capitol of Alaska. That’s the motto at least that welcomes you into this small community that resides between the Chillkat and Chillkoot mountain ranges, and is boarded by the sea. It’s not hard to imagine as you gaze upon the snow peaked mountains that house glaciers, crevasses and some of the best skiing in the state.
We arrived in Haines on one of the rare 70 degree days that happens every few months and remind everyone of why they put up with Alaskan winters. We drove off the ferry and I was stunned into silence by the bay, the greenery that surrounds it, the sail boats, and the mountains that frame the whole town. Driving through the town was a quick event, the town is home to only 2,000 people, and there isn’t a strong “downtown” area.
There is however Mountain Market, the quaint cafe, natural food store, and wine shop that provides a watering hole for locals and tourists to game plane. The cute storefront has a great patio, that has various tables and chairs to make yourself at home in. The natural food store, while small, provides people with various produce, boxed goods, and natural beauty products. I will still in remission from all the fried food I had eaten on the ferry so the thought of a kombucha and apple was mouth watering (I recognize that might have been the most Seattle thing that I’ve ever written).
After grabbing some breakfast we made our way out towards Chillkat State Park, a national park and campground that came highly recommended from everyone we met. Driving down the long Chillkat Inlet, there are various pullouts to take in the view and potentially freedom camp. I even saw a pullout that had three trailers with a tent, and I think a lazy boy, so it seems the rules surrounding pullout camping are pretty chill.
After securing a great campsite we headed back through town to go try our hand at fishing. After trying various locations along the river, we realized they just weren’t biting that day, so we headed back to the state park to cook up some super epic meal time. I was lucky enough to secure a few of the fillet’s from the King salmon fishing expedition and talked to a chef at Juneau Barry’s house about how to pan fry them.
Here was the recipe I used to cook my fireside salmon:
Brine the fish- in a large ziplock bag add water, salt, sugar, and any seasoning you want- you want the water to taste “like the sea” not to salty but the salt with absorb into the salmon and provide great flavor. You just need to have the salmon in the brine for about a half hour.
In a medium saute pan heat up some oil (vegetable is fine, try to avoid using extra virgin olive oil as it will burn quicker), and butter. Wait for the butter to start bubbling, then they the salmon skin side down in the pan. Keep an eye on it, using a pocket rocket to pan sear salmon is a bit tricky as the heat is not dispersed evenly. Flip the salmon after about 4 minutes, depending on how done you like it and the size of the fish.
Right before the fish is done, add more butter to the pan and some thyme (I used dried but fresh is always better) and ladder the butter sauce on top of the fish (skin side down again). You can do this for a minute or two to really get the butter into all the nooks and crannies.
Serve with a simple grain like garlic couscous or quinoa and some boiled broccoli.
The meal turned out excellent and if you’re lucky enough to catch a salmon in Alaska and fillet it- this method provides a quick and delicious way to cook your fish without grilling or baking it.
The next day we stopped along Mud Bay road to cook up some epic breakfast time. It was super sunny out so I was able to lay out my solar panel and charge up my batteries when I cooked. As we were driving we saw this epic pullout that had a fresh mountain spring tap. A simple pipe that was draining into a grate, this water was some of the best I’ve ever had. Locals were constantly pulling up to fill huge water containers and catch up. They were literally meeting at the watering hole.
We tried our hand at a hike and some more fishing but it just seemed like a day to lol about like a seal and catch up on sleep, and ground before the next stage of my trip. I would be heading towards Denali and then Anchorage to pick up a friend from Seattle for an epic Alaskan adventure.
Eat and buy : Mountain Market
Drive: Mud Bay Road
Drink: Fill up your water bottle at the natural spring out on Mud Bay Road
Drank: Haines Brewing Company- Captain Cooks Spruce Tip Ale
Camp: Either of the state campgrounds, there was no one there when we were there so we didn’t have to pay, but they average $15 a night.