A big chunk of my heart lives on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. When my sweetheart told me that he would be going to work on Prince of Wales Island (P.O.W.) this summer I was ecstatic!
Southeast Alaska has four of the ten biggest islands in the United States, and P.O.W. is the biggest of those four at 2577 square miles. Where POW has it all over Chichagof, Admiralty, and Baranof Islands, even more than just size, is in the number of communities and miles of roads.
Prince of Wales Island has nine communities on the road system: Coffman Cove, Craig, Hollis, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Klawock, Naukati, Thorne Bay, and Whale Pass. Not connected by roads are Point Baker and Port Protection.
P.O.W. has over 2000 miles of roads. Only 105 miles is paved, and another 150 miles is improved gravel roads. That leaves miles and miles of logging roads to explore!
We ran the boat from Ketchikan, on Revillagigedo Island, to Thorne Bay, on Prince of Wales Island. It is a five hour trip in good weather. It took us six hours, so while Clarence Strait was bouncy, windy, and pretty rough in a couple of spots, it wasn’t so bad as to make an interesting story.
On the way in to Thorne Bay there are some floathouses anchored in little coves. Doesn’t this look like an interesting and fun way to live? Okay, it’s not for everyone, but it is perfect for some people. Now you can’t just anchor a floathouse anywhere in Southeast Alaska, but if you talk to the right agencies, and fill out the paperwork, then there is just a chance that you will be able to get a permit to anchor a floathouse. Then keeping the house in place and afloat through wind and tide is its own challenge! But I won't go into that today.
There was a blustery westerly so people were out making sure things were secure around their floathouses.
Thorne Bay has a harbormaster, and he made sure that we were taken care of. This is a friendly town, and everyone has not only been outgoing and nice, they have included us in the community. So welcoming!
On an island with this much road we needed wheels. The Interisland Ferry Authority has daily ferry service between Hollis and Ketchikan. A friend brought our truck over on the ferry, so we had to go for a drive! Or two.
There is a LOT of road construction on P.O.W. this year. There is even a schedule of when the pilot car goes through with wait times of up to two and a half hours.
Parts of the island still have snow in late March and some of the side roads are impassible. The roads connecting communities are open, though.
Many of the lakes still have ice on them.
Deer are regularly seen along the roads. On one drive we quit counting at a dozen. Most of them are does and fawns, but there is the occasional buck, too.
They still have their winter coats on. Overall the winter was not severe, so most of the deer made it through in good condition. We did see a couple of yearlings that had prominent hip bones, but they should fatten up on spring growth soon.
By one of the beaches we found this hammock that appears to be crafted of old seine net.