Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 3

May 12th, 2010 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 2.”)

Part Three: Layover In Ketchikan, Alaska

Totem Pole, Totem Bight Park Near Ketchikan, Southeat Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde.

June 23, 1971: It rained hard all night. We arose at 7 am to find the tide was low again. After breakfast we drove to the 13-mile end of the road. We put on rainproof pants, jackets and boots and continued on foot to where we could see old cannery docks and fishing boats. We crossed a stream rushing down the steep slope to the sea. We passed by an electric power plant on the stream. We walked up the boardwalk part-way and stopped where the walk became a bridge that crossed the creek again. Everywhere beautiful white flowers of different varieties were blooming. A dogwood-like flowering ground cover was quite showy.

Back to town in the camper, straight to the Centennial Building and the Museum where we ate lunch and went in. Beautifully designed and situated building with the Graham Jennings archway overlooking Ketchikan Creek. Drove out Tongass Avenue and stopped to look at the float plane ramp up close. Private boats and planes everywhere. Philip made a photograph of the Ketchikan Pulp Company Mill. The next long stop was at Totem Bight Park on a point of land near the water’s edge. We walked through the forest to get to a grouping of totem poles and ceremonial house. The best view was from out on the rocks in the water looking back. Rain had stopped so photographs were easier, though it was windy and cooler.

We continued out North Tongass Avenue to an overlook point. Bay island broke through across the bay with snow capped peaks appearing and nearby islands in the foreground, one of which had a light house on it, more photographs. High mountains on Gravina Island also now visible. More stops at each of the two waterfalls for pictures. Near the second waterfall Philip concentrated on a close-up of the dogwood carpet. At the end of the road we turned into the Forest Service campground to find it small and already full. Pulled back up to the main road and parked at a turnaround to eat dinner.

From about 7:15 until 9 pm we parked back at the boardwalk. We could see it disappearing into the forest. We continued to wander slowly down what became a narrow spongy path lined with the blooming dogwood carpet through a deep cedar forest. We came out to the water at a small private cabin. It appeared to be unoccupied so we continued to follow the tidal zone bordered by the forest. There was a richness of flora: cinquefoil, shooting star, flowering wild fruit trees, fruit of cedar trees and so on. We observed a deep ochre and shades of orange in the seaweed cover of the rocks at low tide, black mussels and white barnacles interspersed, purple sea stars. Philip took Hasselblad 2 1/4 photographs with his high speed Ektachrome film. We could make out where the sun was still up, above rising clouds.

We had so much light that the last picture of the day was not until nearly 10 pm when we drove back toward town. It was complete with a soft sunset color, foreground of water reflections, and islands, close to the road that turns off to go to the Totem Bight Park, labeled “Recreation Road.” Prince of Whales Island with snowy peaks plainly visible.

With David asleep we wandered around downtown Ketchikan window shopping as it was still light around 11 pm. We finally hit the hay as dark fell around 11:30. We had parked at the nature trail parking area at Ward Lake Campground. As we drove in we could see small ponds and lakes on either side of the road with lily pads on the surface. Decidedly cooler and down to 40 degrees during the night. We wondered if it could be clearing.

June 24, 1971: I woke up at 7 am and announced sunshine, our first since Victoria six days ago. Philip broke out his 4X5 for the first time on the trip and…

CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 4.”



  1. “path lined with the blooming dogwood carpet through a deep cedar forest”

    What a lovely picture your mother paints for us! I can close my eyes and see it…beautiful.


  2. Hi Sharon, thank you. You can tell that she loved what she was describing too.

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