Yet another perfect, sunny day was dawning as we approached the fishing town of Petersburg, Alaska, this morning. By this point in the voyage guests seem more adapted to the slower pace of life aboard and in Southeast Alaska. We all enjoyed breakfast as the ship docked, and then prepared to set out and explore by Zodiac, bicycle, or foot.
Some guests chose to cruise the docks by Zodiac, learning about the local fishing fleet along the way, while others motored to Kupreanof Island to hike a boardwalk trail to a muskeg bog to view this exotic environment. Bicycles were available for those that wished to explore the local town on Mitkof Island. As we spent the entire day in port, people also had time to relax and take advantage of the pleasant weather to sit quietly, read, and enjoy the views of Devils Thumb across Frederick Sound. For those with good knees and extra energy after lunch, naturalist Shannon Malone led an aerobic hike up Petersburg Mountain. Time limits kept the group from reaching the summit, but none felt shortchanged by the experience.
Those of us that headed out on the boardwalk trail encountered the muskeg bog on Kupreanof Island across the Wrangell Narrows from Petersburg. Muskegs are very common in Southeast Alaska, covering over ten percent of the land, but they’re rarely visited due to the difficulty in traversing the landscape. While dominated by common sphagnum moss, they host several exotic plants that have adapted to live within the acidic and saturated soil. No doubt, the most interesting of these is the roundleaf sundew. This plant derives some of its nutrients by entrapping and digesting small insects!
The vast, open sky contrasted with the close-up, small-scale perspectives within the muskeg. Perhaps this contrast will encourage us to reflect on the importance of wildness as we live our normal, busy lives. Regardless, it was an amazingly beautiful day!