We visited Sitka on Thursday. I love Sitka! The town is small with a population of about 8,000. The harbor is small, so we had to take tenders to shore. Deciding whether to make it possible for more ships to dock is apparently a hot topic in town. I hope they keep it the way it is.
Steve contacted Deborah Lyons from Sitka Trail Works before we left home and set up a day hike. Sitka Trailworks is a non-profit organization that works with state, federal, and private agencies to build public trails. They do a terrific job and you can read more about it on their website. If you like to walk or hike and find yourself in Sitka be sure to look them up! You won’t find out about them from the cruise lines because cruise lines don’t promote local businesses that do not pay them a percentage of their fees.
Deborah is a Sitka Trailworks board member and her husband is a commercial fisherman. When I eat salmon and halibut at home, I can connect a face and story to that fish now.
Deborah and Max, her Australian Shepard, took us on a hike up to and around Beaver Lake. Those big rocks by the shore are part of the trail. Deborah told us that the rocks, gravel, logs, etc. that go into making the trails have to be brought in by helicopter.
It was a moderately strenuous hike and we were the only 3 people in sight. It was a lovely day… it didn’t rain on us and the clouds lifted some. We almost saw blue sky! We tasted blueberries and huckleberries growing by the trail. The salmonberries (salmon-colored raspberries) were almost ripe enough to eat, but not quite.
On the way back to town we stopped for chocolate at the Theobroma chocolate factory. It’s a small operation and they make wonderful chocolate! They are situated in what used to be a logging facility. When the logging operation shut down, small businesses moved in.
Back in town we visited the quilt shop (there is one at nearly every stop!) as well as the local book shop, an art glass shop, and a variety of other artists venues. I have to say that it felt good to help support the local economy.
We walked to the cultural center in the National Historic Park on the south side of Sitka. This park is devoted to totems. We happened to walk up as one of the rangers, who grew up in Sitka, was about to go out and she took us on a guided tour of the park. I am particularly fond of the raven images in the totems.
On the walk between town and the cultural we came upon these two girls selling homemade jams, jellies, and kelp pickles. It’s a family business (Simple Pleasures) and they are saving the money for a big trip to the lower 48 states. We helped by buying 2 jars of salmonberry jam. These girls are sure to be selling a lot of jelly – who could resist?