Monday, February 13, 2017

Deer Mountain Trail, Ketchikan, Alaska

Deer Mountain Trail is Ketchikan's most easily accessible trail, and it's certainly a beauty. Steep and often very wet, it's a lush and peaceful environment to enjoy some of Alaska's beauty. If you get high enough, it'll also give you great views. I've hiked it twice, and I would hike it again tomorrow if I had the chance.

From my journal after the first hike up Deer Mountain:

From the second lookout, fog rose and fell, obscuring and revealing. I could see nothing but clouds, then islands would appear below me, then disappear again into the fog.”

View from Deer Mountain Trail

View  from same spot less than 1 minute later

Almost better in the rain, so green—shiny green and misty. And the sound of raindrops.”

My second hike up Deer Mountain was even rainier and foggier than the first. Here are a few snippets from my journal that night:

"The trail was wet wet--practically a river running down in. I had my emergency poncho (the heavy-duty one) but I was still immediately soaked from the ankles to knees and elbows to wrists. Then it started wicking up my sleeves and pant legs until I was completely soaked. My 'waterproof' boots stopped shedding water at about 1.5 miles, so my feet were in a swamp. But that made it easier to not care about the puddles and rivers. Adventure!"

I recognized where snow had covered the path last time. It was clear, so I went on, past a foggy pond, more scrub, sloping fields of some giant clover-looking plant, where the trail slanted through it and the land disappeared below and above into soft blankets of fog, as if the trail were an island. And then around one bend, half behind a bush, stood a deer, looking at me. Gorgeous. I spent a long time watching her, trying to photograph her through the mist, stalking her—and then a second deer. They munched on the plants, looked at me with just a touch of wariness, then began munching again. It was past the time when I should have turned back, in order to catch the boat, but I didn't want to leave the deer so quickly, so I watched and lurked and eventually turned—regretfully—back.”

My advice: plan more time than you think you'll need, so you don't have to turn back before you want to. The trailhead is uphill along Ketchikan Lakes Road from the small city park. From the trailhead, it's 2.75-mile (4.4 km) climb to the 3000-foot (914 m) summit, but you don't have to go all the way to experience the greenery, the boardwalks, the views, and even the alpine meadows. You can get a basic map at the visitor center.  

If you want to learn more about this and other Alaskan hikes,

Do you want to know more about Deer Mountain Trail and other great hikes you can take while on an Alaskan cruise?  

Then Cruising Alaska on a Budget is for you.  It includes many free and inexpensive things to do in the ports, including hikes and/or easy walks in all the mainstream cruise destinations.  If you're traveling independently, you'll still find the information useful.  

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You'll love Alaska.  

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