Cruising Day 6. Ketchikan.
We finally slept in! The ships all ashore time wasn’t until 11:15am so we had no reason to wake up early. We didn’t have any character meet and greets, breakfast plans, or activities to go to. It was blissful. When we eventually woke up we wandered up to Deck 9 and picked up breakfast items from the poolside options. They have some fruit plates and pastries to choose from for breakfast. We enjoyed a nice easy morning of just relaxing, walking around the ship and chilling in our stateroom. Right around 11:00am we headed back up to the Deck 9 poolside food options to pick up lunch. They have pizza, burgers, hot dogs, etc. We grabbed a quick lunch and then headed down to leave the Wonder.
Ketchikan is another port where the ship docks right in town. It is an easy walk to most of the main parts of town. We headed out to try to find a post office box. Back in Juneau we had wanted to mail several post cards, and we could not find anywhere to drop a stamped postcard. We finally asked at the information booth, and they told us we could drop them off at one of the tourist stores. We went there, and could not find anywhere to drop them off, we asked at the registers, and they pointed us to a little basket we could put our postcard in. So in Ketchikan we were once again on a hike to find a place to mail our pre-stamped postcard. We had used the internet to find that there was a post office in town. Figured that was an easy enough place. We walked over to it, and its no where to be seen. Walked all over the place, circling the block. Nothing. Found out it had closed…….. So we headed back to the visitors center right by the ship. They said go out the back of the center and there was a blue mail box. We circled the building and there it was! An actual post office box to drop mail in. Amazing. If you plan to mail postcards from Alaska, be forewarned it’s not easy! You can drop your post cards off at the ships guest services, and they will mail them at the next port for you, but if you’re looking to make sure they leave from a specific town, be ready to hunt for somewhere to mail them. Skagway is the easiest with a post office right in town with very friendly helpful staff.
After our mailbox adventure under our belt we headed back inside the visitors center to pick up our locator beacon. The Ketchikan visitors center offers free locator beacons to visitors or local resident. You can pick these up for free, but they must be returned by close that evening. They also have you fill out a form stating where you are going and what your plans are for the day. Why did we need a locator beacon? We planned to hike up into the rainforest. Yes Alaska has a rainforest. We were not going on a Disney Port Adventure, but had plans to head off on our own. Our plan was to hike Deer Mountain Trail. After doing some research before the trip, we had found that Deer Mountain Trail is a free trail into the local Rain Forest. It was located close to town, and offered some spectacular views. The biggest draw back is that it is about a mile outside of town. No big deal we planned to just hike to the trail head. After climbing up a road that felt like it went straight up hill with about 5 switch backs, we made it huffing and puffing to the trail head. It was well marked with signs. A lot of people just hire a taxi to get to the trail head. I could understand why after we did it. It’s not impossible, but it is a good hike upward.
We started up the trail head on the trail.
We learned very quickly that “trail” was a loose term. It was a cut path in the woods with log steps up the steep parts. No paving, no gravel, and a LOT of slick mud. This trail basically goes uphill, the entire way. It is a combination of switchbacks. The environment was amazing. You could tell you were alone. The rainforest has these crows that live in it, and their calls sound so exotic. It was hard to believe they were just crows. Bears do inhabit this area, so trail information advises you to be on the lookout and aware of your surroundings.
We had trail maps, and there were supposed to be mile markers, but it seemed like we had walked FOREVER without seeing one. We knew there was a vista point at the 1 mile spot. Had we missed it? After climbing what must have been the equivalent of Mt. Everest we finally saw a mile marker sign. We had walked 3/4 of a mile. ARE YOU KIDDING?!!?! There was some talk of turning back. But we pushed on to make it to mile marker 1 and the views. Finally after more switchbacks then ever seemed possible, we make it to a flat rock just off the trail with some views through the trees.
The views were great. But there was no benches, no clearing to put down a blanket and rest, nothing. It was literally a small rock outcropping just off the edge of the trail. After that hike one of us was ready for a rest, so a rain poncho made for a nice dry seat on the rocks to admire the views.
Our plan for the day had been to hike all the way to the summit, which is couple more miles up the trail. One of us was so sore and tired, we decided to just head back down the trail.
On the way down we noticed some of the biggest plants. One leaf was larger then our feet.
Going down was easier then going up, but we also had to go slowly so we didn’t slip and fall on the wet muddy steep trail. Even so we made progress at a much faster rate then we had going up. Soon enough we were back at the trail head, and then headed back down the mountain to town. We made it to the main tourist area, and plopped down on the first bench we saw. We had a great view of Creek Street. This is where the salmon run during later summer, and also was a notorious part of town back in the Gold Rush days.
You could see the Wonder at the edge of town from Creek Street.
We headed across the pedistrian bridge toward the Visitor Information Center to drop off our locator beacon.
The harbor areas was was just off the bridge.
Since we had cut our hike short, we ended up with some extra free time in Ketchikan. We decided to just walk around and take some photos.
They get a lot of rain in Ketchikan. We only had a few drizzles. The locals told us it was the first sunny day they had enjoyed in forever.
Ketchikan has a totem pole park, but they also have some displayed right in down town.
There was a small but really pretty park in the middle of downtown with tons of flowers in bloom.
The variety was amazing.
We decided to head back onto the Wonder. All Aboard time wasn’t until 7:45pm but we were ready to go back to what now felt like home. We cleaned up after our sweaty muddy hike into the rainforest, found some dinner on Deck 9 by the pools, and the just relaxed for the remainder of the evening.
We decided to do a little house keeping this evening. We stopped by Shutters to look at the pictures the ship photographers had taken over the week so far. There were a few we thought we liked, but at $20.95 per print we decided to pass. We also went ahead and booked a onboard booking for another cruise. You pay a small deposit ($250.00 at the time) and you given a reservation number to apply toward another cruise in the next 2 years from the date of your current cruise. The benefits of booking another sailing while on board are discounts and onboard credits. The amounts change but for us was 10% off our next cruise and a onboard credit. When we returned to our stateroom that night the tip envelopes had also been left on our bed. They explain that the recommended minimum would be automatically changed to your ship account but you were free to go to guest services to change that amount. You can also add cash amounts to the envelopes. We worked on filling out a few of these because we had to deliver them all tomorrow. We were setting our clocks back forward one hour as we began to head back toward Vancouver. It was going to be a very late night for us, because we were headed to Match You Mate at 11:15pm. One of us had gone and enjoyed it so much early on in the cruise, we made a note to both attend the second time it was offered. While still amusing, the couples in the second show didn’t have as great of answers as the first night couples. I think this may have to do with the fact that many people knew what was coming and were not so willing to volunteer! If you have the choice, I think the first show of the cruise probably has the better chance at being the better of the two.
We had a great time in Ketchikan. Deer Mountain Trail ended up being much more challenging then we expected. We do a lot of walking and we figured a several mile hike would be a piece of cake. Or at least conquerable. I don’t think we were prepared for the steep incline. Deer Mountain Trail is a much more intense hike then we normally do. It felt like being on a treadmill set on the max incline. The views were worth it though. And the experience of hiking in the rainforest in Alaska. It was enjoyable to be free to go at our own pace and experience Ketchikan in a less structured way then our previous PAs. I enjoyed the combination of both types of experiences in ports.
After the show ended around midnight(or 1:00am on the new time) we headed off to bed. Tomorrow was our last day on the Wonder. We wanted to be well rested to enjoy our day at sea.
Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.