Alaska Cruise Report: Ideal Cove and Petersburg

From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska July 15, 2010

We woke up this morning at the southern end of Fredrick Sound in southeast Alaska, off the Coast of Mitkof Island. After stretch class and a hearty buffet breakfast, we went ashore at a place called Ideal Cove. We landed at low tide, so the walk to the edge of the forest was full of thousands of mussels and barnacles attached to rocks. The trail through the temperate rainforest is constructed of wooden boards laid end-on-end. To either side of the boardwalk, we saw devil’s club, mosses, lichens, and lots of blueberry bushes with fruit just ripe enough to eat. As we made our way deeper into the forest and past several lakes, we snacked on the blueberries and enjoyed the peaceful quiet of the woods.

After picking up anchor, we spent the afternoon at a small fishing town on the northern end of Mitkof Island. Petersburg, named for a Norwegian emigrant who began homesteading a site along Wrangell Narrows in the late 1800s, is home to 3,100 people. Although a relatively small town, we had a number of different options on how to spend our afternoon. Across Wrangall Narrows, on Kupreanof Island, is a nice muskeg walk where guests learned about a variety of native flora, including two species of insectivorous plants: the round-leaf and the long-leaf sundews. There was also the opportunity to view Le Conte glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America. Six people per floatplane, our guests got a birds-eye view of the celestial snowfields and iridescent blue glacial melt pools. Other options for the afternoon included touring the town by foot, browsing the local bookstore and gift shops, pedaling farther afield on mountain bikes, learning about the commercial industry and fishing boats on a guided dock walk, or simply relaxing in a lounge chair with a good book.

Dinner was a long anticipated event. Guests hurriedly took their seats and tucked into the pile of freshly caught Dungeness crab legs that never seemed to diminish. Dipped in butter, spritzed with lemon juice, or simply by itself, the crab was delicious and a perfect ending for a great day in southeast Alaska.

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