Whale Watching

My boss Ryan has a boat that he drives in the summers for tourists- mostly wildlife tours and water taxi service (to the surrounding islands where people like to hike). His boat fits six, and sometimes he has smaller groups and he’ll let me tag along and “help out” (aka get really excited and take lots of pictures of whales and stuff). One time he paid me 20 bucks to sit in on a tour, which is both completely and utterly ridiculous, and also very indicative of how extremely nice my boss is and how sweet and giving Sitkans are in general (I tried to give it back but he wouldn’t let me).

The first time he took me out on the boat, I was working at the elementary school in town helping out with inventory  and bulletin boards and other boring stuff, when I got a text from Ryan asking if I could be at the harbor in 15 minutes. I think this was like a Tuesday afternoon. Of course, I raced over to the harbor on my bike, and jumped on board his boat. It was a beautiful day and full of creatures- we saw a sea lion, about 6 humpback whales (swimming all around, pretty close to the boat) and some ADOORRABLE sea otters which are almost impossible to get a picture of.  And bald eagles of course. It was such a spontaneously awesome Tuesday afternoon, and such a casual way to experience whales for the first time. Living in Sitka means that some truly amazing experiences, that people pay a whoooole lotta money for, are free, at my fingertips, and incorporated into my every day life. AH! Does it sound too good to be true!? Cus it feels tooo too good to be true. :)

Anyway, here are some pictures from trips out on his boat. Pretty cool, huh?

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Verstovia Hike (or, My Favorite Day in Sitka)

So there’s this mountain. Verstovia Mountain. It’s huge and beautiful and it juts out above town. When it’s cloudy, the very tippy top is covered, but sometimes it peaks through the clouds just a little bit, so you still know it’s there. I’ve been hearing about this mountain since I got to Sitka. Most people climb to this big flat rock most of the way up, Picnic Rock. Rhiannon did that the week I arrived here, and she was sore for a week. But the real test, the scary climb, is up to the very tip- the arrowhead. It’s a steep hike, and I have no pictures of the process, because it basically involves crawling up a wet, muddy rock slide, holding onto tree branches for your dear life. The whole time, I just kept reminding myself that I had bungee jumped off a bridge before so it should be a piece of cake. (it wasn’t.)

 

Here is Verstovia, taken from my street (a few blocks down from my house):

 

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And here is the arrowhead, taken from picnic rock:

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Stopped at picnic rock for lunch and gearing up to go to the top of that mountain!

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I made it!!

 

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There was this insane wall of clouds that kept rolling around us while we hung out at the top:

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Freaking amazing. AMAZING.

Cross Trail Hike (Or, Learning to Hike in the Rain)

Did you know that Sitka is located in the middle of a beautiful temperate rain forest? Bet you didn’t picture rain forest when I told you I was moving to Alaska, huh!? Here is a cool 2min video about the Tongass National Forest (where I live). Check it out! http://sitkawild.org/2013/08/video-sitka-gateway-to-the-tongass/

One of the first hikes we went on was the Cross Trail, which runs along the back of town (right behind my house, actually). It was a beautiful rainy day, so we suited up in our gear and headed out.

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It was a fun and beautiful way to start adjusting ourselves to living in the rain! If you want to have fun outdoors in Sitka, you have to be able to handle a little water. Luckily, with more than 15 other AmeriCorps volunteers, there are usually a few people who are willing and free when I am. Here’s to many more soggy hikes this fall (and hopefully winter)!