From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska
May 3, 2011 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Sitka, Baranof Island, Southeast Alaska
On the island of Baranof is the fifth largest city in Alaska…Sitka. This pleasant city of around 9,000 inhabitants is a center for educational and health care facilities, an important fishing industry and of course, tourism.
We arrived under misty skies but set off to visit several of the town’s landmarks. First stop was at the St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, established in the early 19th century. Inside were incredible religious icons, many plated with gold or silver. Regular services are still held here.
Our next destination was the Alaska Raptor Center, Alaska’s only full-service avian hospital and educational facility. We learned about their important work of rehabilitating injured eagles, owls, falcons, and hawks and had the opportunity to photograph a number of the avian “patients”.
Then we were off to the Sitka National Historical Park. Behind the visitor center, which also houses the Southeastern Alaska Indian Cultural Center, is a network of trails that wind through verdant, temperate rain forest past one of the finest collections of totem poles in the Northwest. The original poles were carved by Tlingit and Haida artists in the early 20th century and shown at national exhibitions in 1904 and 1905 before being donated to Sitka.
Afterwards, we had a little time to look around town and to possibly purchase a souvenir before sailing back into the watery wilderness to search for brown bears, humpback whales, and other wildlife.