We arrived in Juneau at appx. 2 am. Slugging our way off the ferry into the car we drove to a friends house to park and sleep. We awoke to a dreary classic grey Juneau day. After a shower and some breakfast I was treated to a tour of downtown Juneau. Downtown Juneau is an array of cruise based stores and restaurants. Nick, my Juneau local, ensured me no one come downtown and that it’s reserved for the bevy of cruise ships that pull into the harbor, up to 7 ships a day in the summer. Needless to say we grabbed a drink in a bar and headed back home.
Barinoff Island is a large isolated island that is mainly accessible by air and sea, it is located in the northern Alexander Archipelago or the Alaskan Panhandle. A dark and stormy island, the small town of Sitka is the islands main attraction. Few roads lead around the island, and the primary mode of transportation are boats. Reminiscent of the San Juan islands off the coast of Washington, Barinoff island is far wilder, with snow capped peaks, hundreds of bays, and uncharted beaches- it is a true adventurers paradise.
We were greeted in Sitka by Sarah and Luke, a couple who are mutual friends, and live full time Sitka. After grabbing some breakfast at the delicious Homeport eatery, we were immediately swept off on Luke's family boat to go King salmon fishing, an enterprise I knew nothing about but was eager to experience.
King salmon fishing consists of setting two lines off the back of the boat and trawling around various water ways that are heavily guarded by locals. The opportunities to drink beer and nap are plentiful.
The next day the decision was made to go back out on the boat and camp at a forest service cabin. There are various forest service cabins that are available to rent, scattered throughout the island. We filled up the boat with venison burgers, Baranoff Island Brewing beer, and snacks. Our first stop was at Goddar Hot Springs- two tubs that are pipped to be filled with hot water from the spring up the hill and cold water from a neighboring spring. The steel tubs are protected by wooden huts and overlook the ocean where locals park their kayaks and boats. A very organized hot springs experience, I was shocked at the crude but efficient set up presented. After a little bit of soaking we continued our journey to the hut.
A small A-frame that was at the base of a large bay. Surrounded by Sitka spruce and a small stream the small two-story housed the four of us perfectly. These cabins are fantastic, and a small reservations system allows the huts to be maintained, and cleaned out every spring. The hut featured a few plywood benches for sleeping, a cooking area, basic table and benches, and an outhouse. The fire pit outside allowed us to grill most of our food. There is however, no fresh water source in the hut. The hut was boarded by a freshwater stream that would require filtering or boiling or you could just bring in a few gallons, which is what we did.
We awoke early the next morning, eager to begin our day of King salmon fishing. The 70 degree cloudless day greeted us as we began to fish in local’s only inlets and waterways. It was a slow day of fishing (I am 100% repeating what everyone else said because I have no idea what a slow day of fishing is). Only three hits overall, we were only able to keep 2 of the fish because of the size restrictions. I did however, learn how to cut the gills and gut the fish, both skill I knew I would need in my quest to become a great Alaskan fisher.
That evening, as few were sitting back in Juneau Billy’s kitchen, we were treated to King salmon sushi. We created various rolls and nigiri from the freshly caught fish. Caught at 3 eaten at 6- this Alaskan life isn’t to bad.
Top Tip: If you go to Juneau see if you can get out on the water - even if it's just a kayak tour, Sitka is meant to be seen from the sea not the land.
What I'm listening to: Rambling Man- Laura Marling
What I'm reading: Outlander (still)
What's up next: Healy
Note: My style of writing is generally a stream of conscious style, these thoughts are my musings, my concerns, my fears. It’s a vulnerable place to put your writing out into a world where everything is edited and critiqued. I hope you will forgive any stylistic errors as I am representing my own process and not one of dedicated editing.