Throughout the night, National Geographic Quest traveled east across Frederick Sound. We found ourselves navigating a waterway between the islands of Mitkof and Kupreanof, known as the Wrangell Narrows. Fighting the outgoing tidal current in the narrows, we secured ourselves to a floating dock on Mitkof Island, right outside the quaint fishing town of Petersburg. Spending the entire day docked here allowed us to explore a multitude of activities, whether it be on Mitkof Island, Kupreanof Island, or in the town of Petersburg.
We had Zodiac cruises all day through the busy fishing docks, and we learned about the ins and outs of the commercial fishing industry. Being the “town that fish built,” this was a must do. Boats ranged from Purse Seiners to Long Liners to Gill Netters to precision Trollers. Simultaneously, there were hikes through the muskeg, bike tours that took the long way around town, flightseeing in a six-seater float plane over LeConte Glacier and the Stikine River, and two separate guided hikes by local community members.
Guests were pleasantly surprised by the simple complexity of the muskeg, an Alaskan bog-type environment. One of our groups even watched as an unbothered Sitka black-tailed deer got within about ten yards of them! In any environment, it’s always an eye-opening experience to be immersed in native cultures. Some of our guests had just that opportunity. We had a Petersburg local lead hikes to a wonderful beach and a natal creek to observe some species of salmon. Other guests got to experience a hike with a local native Tlingit. Our guide described how the native tribe used and still uses foraging methods and how they see the land, from the smallest berries to the tallest trees.
Text by Michael Desiderio