Tongass National Forest: Enjoying the Lush

Tongass National Forest surrounds Ketchikan, Alaska. Temperate rain forest makes up most of the Tongass. Thus, a shit ton of rainy days, and, subsequently, so much lush greenery!

Carlanna Lake Trail.

Carlanna Lake Trail making me feel like I’m in a Tongass fairytale.

My first week, we rallied a crew of twelve ranging in ages from 3-30 to hike the Carlanna Lake Trail. We all met in town at Carlanna Lake where the trail started. Because it was recently improved (and lengthened), we didn’t totally know where we were going to end up. The kids were so impressive, no complaints, except sometimes, maybe we were going too slow.

If you’re ever in Ketchikan for just a day (maybe on a cruise), I would definitely suggest this hike. It’s a quick taxi ride from downtown and a pretty moderate hike. The lake itself is gorgeous so even if you don’t feel like hiking but still want to get away from town and the infinite supply of jewelry stores…go check it out. Get a little taste of the Tongass National Forest that surrounds this cool little fishing town. Wander around the lush for a bit.

Our crew at the end of our hike overlooking the Tongass (:

The entire hike felt like we were walking through a fairy village or something. The lush greenery never ceased to amaze me either during my summer. It felt cozy and exotic at the same time. It worked as a constant reminder as to why the rain shouldn’t depress us either. The rain had a purpose and the result was incredible.

It was easy to just want to cozy up on the couch with a coffee or at the bar with a beer every time it was raining. During my first couple weeks there, I was having a drink with a buddy from Ohio who was a veteran seasonal in Ketchikan. I made a comment about the rain keeping me from doing things. And he went into a speech that I feel like he’d said before to other newbie seasonals. He talked about how the rain can’t be a deciding factor. Don’t make plans hoping it won’t rain. Make plans, be prepared for the rain, and then be stoked if you get a beautiful sunny day instead. So, I tried to maintain that mentality throughout my summer. Thanks for the tip, Ryan!


The view from Rainbird Trail overlooking the town of Ketchikan.

The first time I went out fishing, it poured. A couple buddies and I planned on going out in a skiff, a boat with no cover. One buddy bailed because of the rain. However, the guy who had access to the boat was still down. So, after suiting up in some extra rain gear, we romped all over the place in that skiff. Yes, the rain dumped on us pretty much the whole time. Despite feeling cold and even a little miserable at times, it was one of the most fun days I had all summer.

We ventured farther than I had been before. New forest scenery to pleasure my eyeballs everywhere I looked. Thankfully, we even got little pockets of sunshine here and there. Thank you for that Sun Gods. We cruised until noon, came back to run home and get a dry change of clothes and then headed right back out until sunset. It was killer.

tongass national forest

Our yummy halibut!

The first time we decided to drive Betsy, the van, up to hike Dude Mountain, it also rained. Shocker. It was my first time to do the hike, and the best part was the view from the top which you needed clarity for. We romped our Ford Econoline Van on some narrow, winding roads all the way up to the trailhead. A little sketchy at times. Betsy has grown a bit tired of climbing mountains after all. Still, we made it. There was rain here and there. As well as copious amounts of blueberries which we picked and ate throughout the hike. As we came to the top, there was no chance of seeing a thing past the fog and clouds. And it was still epic.

tongass national forest

Some blueberries I picked on our hike (:

There is definitely some wisdom in finding paradise in a place where it isn’t exactly paradise all the time. Without the absence of the sun, sometimes even the feeling of being sun kissed can loses its marvel.


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