Little Norway

20140601_011 petersburg memoria RESIZEKnown as “Little Norway”, Petersburg is a fishing town on the NW corner of Mitkof Island.  Its proximity to the Le Conte Glacier made it a perfect place to establish a fishing community in the late 1800s, with the ready supply of glacial ice to keep the fish fresh for transport to Seattle and other markets. The area had been in use by native people as a summer fishing camp for 1000 years before.
As the new community grew in those early days, some of the Norwegians ended up marrying native Tlingit (pronounced “kling-get”) women, and the resulting blend is known as a “Tlingwegian” (pronounced “klingk-weegin”).  Established as a fishing community, Petersburg is still a fishing town with canneries in between the docks on the waterfront and a constant flow of boats coming in to offload their catch – halibut, salmon, crab, etc.  20140601_001 petersburg unloading fish RESIZEEveryone fishes, and we saw people of all ages on the dock jigging for herring to use as bait.  They start them young…20140605_037 petersburg father daughter fishing RESIZE
The fishermen are pretty friendly and they take a lot of pride in their boats. Commercial fishing boats suffer from hard use and they usually look it, but we noticed that most of the Petersburg boats were clean, tidy and very well cared for.  I hope they don’t run me out of town when they find out that I don’t eat seafood!  We’ve heard that there are a lot of pot luck dinners during the winter, and I’ll probably have to carry a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my pocket just in case.
The highlight of our visit was meeting up with a group of other cruisers, centered around Krogen friends Rolynn and Steve Anderson aboard INTREPID.  Rolynn writes suspense-romance novels and her latest book is set in Petersburg (“Lie Catcher”), so she stopped to do a book signing during their summer cruise through SE Alaska.  A number of other Krogens arranged to be in town for the festivities, and we were graciously included along with a nice couple on a Selene.  It was so nice to meet other cruisers as well as some folks who will be living aboard there for the winter – we had a lovely time, and reading Rolynn’s book in situ was great fun!
Across the Narrows from town there is a public dock and hiking trails, so we put the dinghy in the water and headed over to explore… prepared for bear, as always.
After a short hike through the forest we came out into a more open area known as “muskeg” – a bog comprised of sphagnum moss and peat, spongy and pocked with pools of water.  20140604 7964 petersburg muskeg meadow RESIZETrees and plants are stunted and sparse in the muskeg because of the acidic nature of the soil.  Luckily there was a narrow boardwalk to walk on, and the fishing net on the boards helps with traction – it rains a lot and wood is pretty slick when wet.  The boardwalk eventually led back into the forest and out to the edge of Petersburg Creek though there wasn’t much to see at dead low tide.  The locals like to kayak up the creek, but you have to head up an hour or two before high tide and you ride the current up, get as far as you can, and then let the flow of the creek and the outgoing tide carry you back out.  Parts of the creek are nearly dry at low tide, so you don’t want to get stuck up there – it’s a long wait.
20140605_013 petersburg macro robin RESIZEI loved the muskeg and all the delicate little flowers so much that we came back the next morning so I could do some macro photography.  Jim came along to “keep me safe from bears”, I suspect, which is very sweet.  I was dressed in grubby clothes and knee pads since so much of what I wanted to photograph was very close to the ground.

Bog Laurel

Bog Laurel

Bog Orchid

Bog Orchid

Maidenhair Fern Fiddles

Maidenhair Fern Fiddles

One thought on “Little Norway

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