We’ve got just two more hops to make it to Haines. It should be around 130 miles to Juneau, where we plan to stay a few days visiting friends, then 100 miles to Haines!
Wrangell to Petersburg
We left our stop in Wrangell after two days, but we actually had 9 miles of paddling just to reach downtown. The forecast was for a high pressure system to move in for the rest of the week, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but by the time we started paddling, there was already a northwest wind blowing in our face. If the wind picked up, we would be lucky to make it the 9 miles to town.
Fortunately, shortly after we started the wind dropped to a breeze. We were sore from the long day we put in to get to Wrangell, so we plodded the 9 miles to town and stopped for lunch. After eating we got back on the water to see how far we would get. We paddled and paddled hoping to make it to a forest service cabin on Little Dry Island, but we started running into the outflow of the Stikine river and decided to follow the current around the back side of Rynda Island. We ended up making a great tent site at the top of a short beach where we could enjoy an amazing sunset. We left the fly off the tent and in the middle of the night we also got a show from the meteor shower.
We woke up to another blue sky day, and started paddling by 7 AM, hoping to make a campsite before the wind picked up. We rode the current down to and into Dry Strait, but the wind started to pick up and the current turned before we left the strait. We ended up pushing really hard to get over to shore where we thought we might be able to hide from the wind that quickly built to over 20 knots. When we got into the shelter of the shore we took a short break. There was a small nook between the logs that was above the tide line, where we would be able to pitch the tent if we had to, but after a little while we thought we should push on and see if we could make it around the point. We kept paddling into the wind. It was rough, and hard, but it was also sunny and warm. We kept chipping away until we reached a rocky beach we thought might have a campsite. Just as we reached shore a crab fisherman pulled up to let us know there was a kayaker campsite around the next point, about a half mile away. It was really nice of him to motor over to help us out. A lot of advice we get is only about half right, but we found a great campsite right where he told us it was. We landed in rough waves, and my boat got beat up a bit on the barnacle covered rocks, but the next morning we would have an easy launch at the top of the beach. We marveled at the sunset while we ate dinner, and at the sunrise while we drank our morning coffee. We could have spent the day staring at the glacial mountains, icebergs drifting down the sound, and islands filtered by the smoke of wildfires in BC, but we loaded up the boats once again and started paddling.
We thought we could make it to Petersburg on our third day if we started early enough. We paddled for 2 hours before the wind again started to blow hard. We knew we could make the remaining 10 miles to Petersburg so we started to look for a beach. It was only 10 AM, but we knew the wind was going to blow all day. As we paddled along the beach we came to a couple splitting wind on the beach in front of their cabin. They waved and looked friendly, so I pulled in to ask about a place to camp before we reached the point. Don and Jenny turned out to be some of the nicest people on the planet, and invited us to setup our tent on their porch. They had built a beautiful log home above the beach, a mile walk from the road to town (which was only open in the Summer) and 10 miles by skiff to town. We spent the day perusing their life off the grid, picking blueberries, and enjoying their view.
The next day we got up early to make it the last hop to Petersburg. It was another day of perfect blue skies. We paddled the last 10 miles easily, but I realized as we approached the channel that the sun was starting to bake my brain. I was getting burnt despite the thick layer of sunscreen I smeared on when we started a few hours earlier.
Just as we reached the channel we saw the first killer whales of our trip. A juvenile and small adult swam slowly past then disappeared just as we thought they were going to get close. We waited a short time then continued on to the marina, where we tied up our boats and found a place to get out of the sun.