Alaska Day 5
Hoonah, which translates to village by the cliff in Tlingit is the ancestral village of the Tlingit tribe. Legend has it that the Tlingit occupied Glacier Bay and were driven out across the sea when the glaciers grew. They then settled in Hoonah. The salmon poured out of the sea and into the cannery for packing and shipping. With the decline of the salmon industry and canning, the village is now fishing and tourism.
Just outside of Hoonah is Icy Point Cannery. It is a former cannery that has been converted into a tourist attraction for the cruise ships (typically 2 stop by a day). We scammed our way onto the tourist bus and got a free trip to the cannery. We strapped on the camera and played our best ‘tourist cruise passenger’ role and did a walking tour of the history of the cannery, the salmon fishing and all about the town of Hoonah. Icy Point has a nature walk, the longest zip line in the world (according to them) and several excursions they organize for bear watching, fishing and kayaking. The pictures and history of the cannery are very interesting and worth the trip.
Upon return from the cannery we went into the Carvers Den. The artists are working on totem poles and carved walls that will be erected in a new long house at Glacier Bay. The long house represents all the clans of the area and the artwork is a combination of the different clan history and stories. The artist spent a great deal of time showing us how he carves the totem, about the materials and such. We saw some of the most intricate totem poles I have ever seen. Every single piece is done by hand. Each totem takes about 6 months to carve and will be capped in copper to help protect it. The copper will keep the moisture out and the rain will cause the minerals to seep into the totem. This will protect it from bugs. I always wondered why totem poles survive for so long! The building smelled wonderful and was a great piece of history.
Honnah is on the Chichagof Island which has one of the densest populations of bears in Alaska at 1.7 per acre (it is 50 miles long and 30 miles wide). The island is ripe with berries (thank to the logging that took place to supply the cannery) and streams abound. A perfect environment for bears. While we saw some bear scat at the cannery, we did not see any bears in Hoonah.
A great meal of barbecue pork and enjoying the warmth as we finished off the day. I suspect the great warm weather is coming to an end. Next stop is Pavlof Bay and then Appleton Cove.