Skagway, Alaska

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May 12, 2014

Sunrise 4:35am, Sunset 9:24pm

High 68, Low 44

Skagway was my personal favorite of our stops in Alaska and I’ve been most excited to write this post, so let’s get to it!! 🙂

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We arose eeearly this morning to step off the boat right at 7am (dock time) to meet for our first excursion at 7:15! We made our way down the path to where all the excursion guides were waiting with signs of what they had to offer. We already booked our excursion through our cruiseline, so we were set.

We find a group of 4 mountain-men-lookin’ guys, and one of them mutters they look like adventurous people, I bet they’re with us! Dang right mister!

Our chosen adventure that day: snow shoeing. From Celebrity’s website: “Begin your shore excursion with a train ride aboard Skagway’s White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, followed by a wilderness snow shoe trek through the Alaskan wilderness. You’ll gear up at Glacier Station and begin your 3-5 mile guided snowshoe adventure over Skagway’s snow-covered glacial landscapes..”

Packer Expeditions was the company in charge of the excursion and as you will soon find out, they are amazing!! This is the specific adventure we chose for the day, and Ryan and I highly recommend!

There ended up being ten of us excursion-ers, all couples, ready to tackle the day’s journey. One guide briefly told us the day’s order of events, including the 1/4 mile walk to the train: a pass or fail test to see if we could handle what was to come. He said if you’re out of breath during this 1% incline, then this may not be the excursion for you. Ha!

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The train ride itself was part of the paid excursion. It offered amazing views on our way!

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IMG_1599Standing out on the platform during the train ride

While on the train, the guides had laid out quite a spread of food for the day … this was a huge concern of mine given that this excursion was labeled things like “strenuous” and “8-hour.” Molly’s first thoughts on anything lasting more than 1.5 hours is where/when I will be getting food 🙂

We made sandwiches to put in our packs for the “lunch break” we’d have somewhere along the trail. Inside those packs were also a bunch of other snacks including 2 water bottles and CANDY BARS. Yep, we had picked the right excursion. We got off on our stop and put on snow pants and boots. The snow shoes would come on later, we were told.

IMG_1614This man can sport a fanny pack better than anyone I know

IMG_1615Our gear! Just kidding, the guides were the ones that had to carry those beasts. Although with all the extra candy bars I snagged, my fanny pack did get a bit heavy

Before we set off, one guide asked Ryan to pick a song, to which he chose “Don’t Stop Believin’”. Our guide told us should we encounter a bear, our group would huddle up close together and all start singing Don’t Stop Believin’ as loud as we could to scare it off. (Spoiler alert: that song was never sung!)

And we were off! The 4 guides dispersed themselves among us so there’d be no man left behind. And since our group was small, if we had any questions, there was always a guide super close by to answer! They made everything fun and funny and well worth the “strenuous” day 🙂

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Everyone in our group was fairly fit, which I’m sure our guides were more than thankful for, so we all stayed pretty close during the hike. We would stop at any points along the way where a guide wanted to point something out to teach us about. Ryan and I really appreciate a good guided tour … being in a new place, learning interesting facts about a new place, and doing something adventurous in a new place … right up our alley!

Fun fact: when you sweat, you can wipe the oil off your nose to lubricate your lips! I was told this fun kinda-gross fact by a guide while scrambling for my chapstick during the hike.

20140512_093553We were one of the first tour groups to be taken out on the trail (our excursion is seasonal..we went in May). The guides had headed out a few days prior to pave the way for us!

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20140512_124500Our snow shoes! We wore “creepers” on our shoes up to this point. The creepers allowed for a better grip on the trail. Once we hit snow, we threw on our snowshoes to trek on out!

IMG_1620Filling up his water bottle with fresh water! It was delicious and coooold.

IMG_1621And oh-so thirst quenching 🙂

IMG_1622A tang snowball!! We were given strict instructions: Dig your hand down and scoop up some fresh snow. Hold it out in front of you. Think back to your childhood. And then he came around and sprinkled Tang mix onto our snowball. It was soooo good! (Does anyone remember Tang?!) Pretty fun, plus now we can say yeah we’ve eaten a Tang snowball while snowshoeing in Alaska, you?

20140512_111946May not look like it, but this was a brutal uphill.

Halfway through our hike, it was time for lunch! We each found a rock to sit on and chowed down on our pre-made sandwiches. One of the guides brought a thermos full of hot chocolate, so yum! It was nice to take a break from focusing on the path we were on, to look around at the scenery around us. Unreal. It is crazy to think that not many people have stood in our exact spot and took in that exact beauty surrounding us. I want to see it all 🙂

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During lunch, we spotted a mountain goat and also listened to some poetry read by the guides. Too fun!

IMG_1636This was taken full-zoom, ha! But hey, a mountain goat!

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After lunch (and a porta-potty break taken by all … yes thank goodness they had actually installed a porta-potty way out there) we took some pictures with the Alaska state flag before starting our hike back.

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Our hike back was a little bit challenging, given that there was a lot of downhill. Unless you are a snowshoe pro, you will fall. I think everyone in our group had somewhat of a wipeout, and it was pretty funny! There was also a part where we each had to squat down and sit on our snowshoes (while wearing them) and slide down a small hill. No lie. Ryan even got video but I can’t figure out how to get video on this thing….

IMG_1618Deciding on the safest route back. Take your time fellas.

20140512_122206Check out that awkward waddle walk I’ve got going! Snowshoes are difficulty to walk in, k?

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Once our hike was through, we ended back at the train “station” (aka a platform in the middle of nowhere). We finished off the day’s trip back on the train for more great views!

20140512_153438You guys KNOW I wouldn’t let my last candy bar go to waste. I’m not me when I’m hungry. I’m also in love with this picture. (Ryan….rude)

Views from the train….

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This was such a fun, but exhausting day! We found and hit up the Skagway Brew Co that was recommended to us by our guides before getting back on the ship, where we crashed.

20140512_175227The town of Skagway! (Is small)

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I don’t think we took any “dinner pic #6″ pics but we did manage to hit up the outdoor hot tub to soothe our muscles that night! What a day!

Tell me…

Have you ever tried snowshoeing?!

Ever seen a bear? Where?!

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