ADVrider (
-   Epic Ride Reports (
-   -   Alaska Ducati Goes To Annette Island, Alaska's Only Reservation (

AKDuc 08-19-2007 03:55 PM

Alaska Ducati Goes To Annette Island, Alaska's Only Reservation
Yay, Comet and I FINALLY made it back to the Rez! :D I'm related to many (most) in the Tsimshian Indian community of Metlakatla as my dad is from there. He's full blood Tsimshian. My mom is from Independence, Missouri, thus making me a wild halfbreed. Yep, half Indian and half cowboy. :lol3

Back when my grandmother Lucy Rainman was still alive I'd average getting to Metlakatla every couple years. I always had a VERY wonderful time each and every visit. Besides being one of my favorite places to recreate, now I'm really glad I spent as much time as I did visiting my grandparents and other elders in the tribe as most have since passed on.

I was on my way down there a couple years ago when, the day before my departure, a 17yo in a pickup truck caused the wreck of my lovely Ducati S4R Monster and the breaking of my right wrist. Consequently it's been about 6yrs since I last visited what some refer to as one of the most beautiful parts of Alaska.

It's also a fairly lengthy journey from Anchorage. First, almost 800mi of rough road to Haines. Then about a day and a half on one of our Alaska Marine Highway ferries to Ketchikan and finally a smaller ferry over to Metlakatla on Annette Island. This being my first trip there with a digital camera, be ready for a TON of photos. Since we can forever "sticky" ride reports in our 'Alaska' Regional Forum on here I've chosen to do a pretty extensive job recording (and sharing) this adventure with you, my friends and family. I hope you all enjoy it. I know I sure did!

And yes I had to drive my cage. After all, I wanted to take Comet, a motorcycle, a kayak, a mountain bike, and all the gear for each activity. I would've also taken my recumbent bicycle if I'd known it was gonna be as sunny as it was. The recumbent was a big hit down there on my last trip. I enjoy sharing my toys and activities. I also think that for many down there it's the only time they'll ever get to see and try some of this stuff in real life. While I had originally thought about taking the KLR so I could better explore the many dirt roads in the area, including the nearly completed 15mi Walden Pt Road going to the north end of the island, it proved too difficult to get in and out of the van. Even with the forks fully compressed it's tallness made it too much of a hassle to load (since remedied so maybe next time) whereas a sportbike goes in and out with the greatest of ease. :thumb Besides, I figured some would really get a kick outta seeing a Ducati Superbike down in Southeast Alaska. That and I knew there was gonna be a parade I could ride in while sportin my well renowned Vanson skeleton leathers. :evil So yes, please rest assured that there is some fun filled two wheeled action in this ride report. :nod

Here's the loaded van with Comet saying "ok, let's go already." :D

I saw a lot more bikes on the road when I headed down in July compared to when I returned in August. Everyone must be heeding our advice of June and July being the time to ride up to the 'Great White North'. :wink: I was a bit surprised at how most of the bikes I saw were Harleys. This guy went thru some serious frame wobble and nearly into a tank slapper rounding this corner headed into Glennallen north of Anchorage. Scary! :eek1

It's a pretty rough road much of the way so doing the whole 800 miles in one shot isn't much fun. Been there done that. So here we are with the sun setting and soon looking for a place to pull over and get some sleep.

Now we're going through Canada. Parts of the Alaska Highway are always under construction and that means replacing cool old bridges like this one too. While all this does make traveling less toilsome I think it also takes away some of the 'ol romance and uniqueness of the journey. I'm glad I got to experience this road back in the day of when it was REALLY narrow, tight, and twisty as it went up, over, and around all types of terrain. Fun! Years ago I hitch-hiked to Haines and camped out beneath this bridge. It will probably be closed down next year as the new one next to it is nearly done.

On another trip I offloaded a sportbike and had a lot of fun running the corners around Kluane lake. WAY fun! Now that area too is being straightened out. Big big job!

Ah, finally. Some wildlife. This sow and her little cub were munching away on dandelions by the side of the road just north of Chilkat Pass.

Heading through Chilkat Pass up north of Haines.

I think the road in and out of Haines is one of THE best! It winds it's way along the river through Chilkat Valley (aka "Valley of the Eagles") with spectacular mountains on the other side.

Alrighty then, here we are in Haines. Comet was VERY happy to stretch his legs and find himself his first of many beach sticks on this journey to play with. :jumpOne of my favorite heath food stores is in Haines, The Mountain Market.

I tell folks that up here you can turn onto most any dirt road and just find yourself a place to camp out. This was one such spot for us one night in Haines. Semi secluded and nice and shaded from the early morning sun.

On a side note, I chose to go to Haines a couple days early so I could check out the Southeast Alaska State Fair for my first time. So I had to spend a couple nights in Haines. On that second night Comet and I had an interesting bear encounter early one morning. I was awakened by some splashing coming from a pond we'd parked next to. I looked out of the van to find one of two LARGE grizzly cubs playing with something in the water! The even larger mother was standing over on the other side of the pond. I thought this was pretty cool to see but when I tried taking a picture the flash caught the attention of the playful cub and it started coming over towards us! :eek1 I'm bummed I didn't turn off the flash to get a better photo through the glass. Oh well, maybe next time. Anyway, I got concerned about the smell of all the food I had on board and possibility of the bear seeing Comet as a tasty morsel so I started banging on the window and saying something to the effect of "GO AWAY!" In all my years of bear encounters I've never experienced what I saw and heard next. The sow start huffing and flapping her lips and continued doing so while backing away from the area as the cubs followed. It was pretty interesting and exciting. Bear cubs can stay with their mother for as long as two years and these must've been two year olds because they were big. I love stuff like this when everyone comes through unscathed. Fun.

Here's that tasty little morsel sitting in the lush rain forest near Haines. :lol2

More of the spectacular beauty surrounding the Haines area.

Coming up next: boarding the ferry and heading south on the Alaska Marine Highway System. Mark H.

GB 08-19-2007 04:22 PM

a beautiful journey home... we'll just make belief you're on a bike.. :wink:


AKDuc 08-19-2007 06:23 PM

I love ridin the ferries. I enjoy camping out up in the solarium and socializing. I'd never pitch a tent as the recliners are comfy and they're under heaters up in the ceiling. I'll probably not ever pay for a berth again either as it leads to me sleeping too much and missing out on the passing scenery. This year I really lucked out with the Alaska Marine Highway System offering the (usually wintertime only) special of drivers going for free on round trips.

The ferry system is also very important for local transport of goods.

I wonder if someday I'll have any desire to travel by one of these "land barges?" Nah, I don't think so. :rolleyes

Also in port was the new fast ferry Fairweather. The other ferries cruise at about 16 knots this one cruises at about 36 knots or over 40mph! I'll end up getting an unplanned ride on it during my return trip when the AMHS MV Columbia has an engine go bad.

Coming into the Tongass Narrows that Ketchikan is on. That's the Ketchikan Airport that lies across the water from Ketchikan. Thus the desire by some for one of the two infamous "bridges to nowhere" up here. The other being in Anchorage across Turnagain Arm.

Many modes of transportation around these parts! You can see one of the small white airport ferries in the distance.

After a short stay in Ketchikan, on to another ferry over to Metlakatla. This is the view coming into Metlakatla with Purple Mountain on the left and Yellow Hill on the right. The population of Metlakatla is currently about 1,200.

Metlakatla is/was supposed to be a "dry" community. Meaning no alcohol allowed. It may soon be turning "damp" where it will be allowed for private consumption.

Here's my grandmother's old house where I've always stayed. She passed away a number of years ago. :cry

It was handy having the shed to use as my "closet" with all the toys I brought! :D

Comet and I would be camping out in the van the whole time as most houses were full of visiting relatives there for a big celebration going on through the week. We didn't mind at all. We've traveled across country this way a couple times already. Fun and comfy.

Cool thing about staying here was that we were SO close to the beach! :clap

That's Crow Island in the distance. I've collected a lot of eagle feathers there over the years when I paddle to it in my kayak. Looks like Comet's looking for another stick. :wink:

Found one!

And this is why he's so wet. He LOVES the water!

Shall we take a look at some of the local humble abodes?

And yes, of course there are Totem Poles.

Enough of the dwellings. I'll be back shortly with more shots of the surrounding area. Mark H.

AKDuc 08-19-2007 07:15 PM

Ok, how about some slightly more scenic shots? :D

It was good having the van down there to get around and take whoever wanted to go with me. One day I took my mom and my niece Raven out to the south end of the island to a place called Point Davison or Point D. Awesome. Raven is the youngest daughter of my Ducati 748 riding brother, Corbin. They and my dad are all part of the Native dance group Lepquinm Gumilgit Gagoadim that had flown down from Anchorage for the festivities. It was Raven's first time to Southeast Alaska.

We also stopped at a beach on the way back into town. My mom has had both knees replaced and was very glad to be getting around. Raven came back with a bunch of beach glass.

My mom said she remembered when this was still a usable dock! She once had to board a boat from here to go to Ketchikan for the delivery of my other brother Steven. LOT'S of history in these here parts. Besides ALL aircraft having to land on the island on their way north the Coast Guard also used to have a huge base here.

We also took the relatively new boardwalk out to the renowned Sand Dollar Beach.

On our first of three visits to the beach, the wind was calm which allows the ocean water to warm up to a very enjoyable temperature. So warm that Raven, a hot weather girl from New Mexico didn't even want to get out! :lol2

Oh oh. Is that Comet bringing something this way?

ANOTHER stick?!?!


Raven, Comet, and I also took another boardwalk up Yellow Hill just outside of town. A geologist told me that Annette Island is very unique in the area for its extreme mineral diversity. There are plans to mine a high grade marble from another part of the island. Yellow hill is a mineral that is gray in color till it weathers and turns yellow.

That profile on the edge of the mountain is know as 'Washington's Nose'.

Looking north at Metlakatla. Ketchikan is about 16mi around the point.

Next, we'll hit the water. Mark H.

Big Bad Bob 08-19-2007 07:30 PM

Very cool pics Mark!!!!


Beezer 08-19-2007 08:06 PM

Welcome back! Hard to belive you would leave a beautiful place like that... very nice pix... makes me wanna go.

AKDuc 08-19-2007 09:15 PM

This is my favorite area to paddle. No glaciers so the water is a very clear blue green color, warm sandy beaches, and mid eighty degree temperatures. Very nice. One year, pre Comet, I left my truck in Haines and just loaded everything onto the ferry to Ketchikan. Upon arrival we were told the little ferry to Metlakatla would be down for a few days. So I loaded everything into and onto my little recreational ocean kayak and made the 16mi trip over to Annette. Fun using my little boat for a utilitarian purpose. For some reason not many locals are into kayaking so it's another recreational activity I've shared over the years when I've brought one or two down.

The big tree in the middle of this photo is in our front yard. That's how close we are to the water. Very nice.

One Tree Island with Metlakatla and Yellow Hill in the background.

Most people think of boats as mainly being utilitarian rather than recreational around these parts.

The Discovery Channel did a special on this one because it got washed up on the rocks and nearly cost those aboard their lives.

Rez boats put out to pasture.

During WWII all aircraft heading farther north and on out to the Aleutian Islands had to stop on Annette Is. for refueling. And there wasn't a runway in Ketchikan till the '70's so all commercial flights also landed here. VERY busy place. My dad used to work in this tower nearly 50 years ago when he first started with the FAA .

Not much left of the big 'ol hangar from back in the day. :cry

The road from town out to the runway had some nice twisties that I enjoyed running. My brother and I once videoed each other doing speed runs up and down the runway on my 'ol Triumph Daytona T595. I did a few runs up and down on the Duc but I had more fun doing big high speed sweeping ess turns from one side of the runway to the other. Fun.

There were also quite a few more paved roads for me to explore on this trip. YAY! Those newly paved roads opened up some nice vistas for killer backdrop while photographing the Duc. :D

Ok, on to some of the celebrations and activities taking place on the island. It was 120 years ago that some Tsimshians decided to relocate from BC Canada to the uninhabited island of Annette and settle in Metlakatla, Alaska. August 7th has been designated 'Founder's Day' to celebrate this event. 4th of July and August 7th are BIG events on the island! :choppa

And that includes a parade in which I got to participate. I rode wingman for a cousin. He on his total "Res bike" dressed like a Mad Max Road Warrior and me on the Duc in my Vanson Dave Aldana replica skeleton leathers. Fun! He even had a real horse saddle on his bike that he'd gotten out of the local dump! :lol3 We were the only two motorcycles in the parade.

Other participants in the parade.

This is the dance group my family's part of.
LGG stands for Lepquimn Gumilgit Gagoadim which means "our own dance in our hearts."

Just being silly or making use of what's plentifully available.

The parade went through town ending here on the Fairgrounds.

Many different activities can be joined in or watched throughout the day. I've always won the slow bicycle race telling everyone it's gas money to get home. This year's 1st place was only $10 instead of the usual $20! Man, that sure can't get me very far. Next time I may take an ocean canoe with me as 1st in that race is $100! They knew better than to let me enter my kayak in the race. :evil Shucks. Looks like the egg toss here.

There are a lot age categories for each of the many events. And yes of course there's married vs single. :rofl

Native dance groups come from all over to partake in the festivities.

And there was a lot of indoor dancing each night. LATE into the night! That's my dad in his gray wolf robe on the left.

And here's Raven in her wolf robe that her dad Corbin designed.

Some of the many others. A great time was had by all!

I also got be part of the raising of a totem pole that my first cousin Aaron Horne carved. That's him in the buckskin shirt with the wolf design on the front. He and I were both very glad I was there to be part of this ceremony. It began by carrying the pole through town. This was a small pole with only six carrying it. It felt fairly light to begin with and I thought I'd be able to help carry it the whole way. I ended up being very glad there were others there to trade off with! I've also had the good fortune to be part of raising much larger totem poles in the past were there were dozens to help carry.

Getting ready to carry the pole into the Longhouse.

Next, the new Walden Point Road, climbing Purple Mountain, and the sun setting on Metlakatla. Mark H.

alaskaOE 08-19-2007 09:29 PM

Thanks for another ride report Mark, you alway have such great pictures and tell a wonderful story.


AK Bear 08-19-2007 10:03 PM

Very cool! Bear

Spicy McHaggis 08-19-2007 10:34 PM

Too cool. Is this the trip you guys stopped in Juneau on the transit down? I never got an email or message from ya, or I would have met you at the dock for a bit.

Waitin' on the rest...!

AKDuc 08-19-2007 11:38 PM

Another celebration that happened during my visit was the dedication of the new Walden Point Road. It goes from Metlakatla north about 15 miles north to the end of the Island towards Ketchikan. The idea is to only have a short ferry ride across a channel rather than the usual hour and a half. It's supposedly been the dream of some for many years. Many, like myself, think there's potential for a LOT of accidents on it as well as opening up the island to nonmembers to do who knows what. Many wonder the reasoning for it's being built and were looking forward to hearing more about it. You're not even gonna believe what the town Mayor kept repeating during one of the many speeches. He said, and I quote, "we don't know why we're building this road but our children will." :huh Is that not incredulous or what?!?! Oh well. It's being built by the military and is a VERY big but little known operation. I thought it was nearly completed seeing how a dedication ceremony was being held complete with congressmen, generals, and other dignitaries. Most of the dirt work is completed except for the ends. They're both so steep it's difficult right now for a normal vehicle to climb. On a positive note, if and when, it's paved it'll probably turn out to be my new favorite sportbike road in all of Alaska. :D Google Earth it. You'll be amazed! Because of the war in Iraq now there's question about when it may ever be paved tho.

The general public still isn't allowed to drive on it and there's a gate on the end. The evening before many visitors were scheduled to leave I was riding around the island with 4 lovely girls just having fun laughing and carrying on. :evil :augie:lol2 The driver, Roxie, who's one of the most humorous people I know, decides that we should try to go up the road in her little Subaru. We get to the gate as a couple guards are getting ready to lock it up. I got to see a lot of humorous sweet talking in action that led to us be able to go up and onto the road! :nod Too funny. Anyway after a failed first attempt, a few of us had to get out so the Subie could make it up the first part. From there on it was an amazing road.

The unsuspecting guards. :lol3

To further illustrate the steepness of this section this is a photo I took the next day when I had to climb up the first part on my way up Purple Mountain. It's an empty cement mixer coming down. It's rear wheels were totally locking up, a hoppin and a skippin all the way down! Wild! There was a bulldozer parked at the top with a chain to pull rigs like this UP the road. I used to do road construction like this so I was amused. :D

So here are some scenery shots from an angle few have ever seen. :wink:

Yay! We made it back down the road alive! We'll celebrate with photos of some of the fireworks that could be found in ABUNDANCE on the beach every night! Many locals had spent hundreds of dollars on fireworks that were shot off throughout the week. The town also put on a show that rivaled any I've seen in Anchorage!

The next day after most visitors left, Comet and I climbed Purple Mountain behind town. I was really hoping to do this for the sweeping panorama at the top. Many locals haven't even been to the top. I've climbed it a few times over the years and enjoy walking up the pipe that carries the towns drinking water down from Chester Lake up between Purple and Leadville Mountains. Last time here, locals told me that they'd never seen a dog walk the pipe before. Too funny.


Yellow Hill and some of the twisties on the way out to the runway. The smoke is from the garbage dump where everything is just burned in the open.

Views from the top starting with Chester Lake where Metlakatla gets it's drinking water.

Four mile long Puple Lake behind the mountain. I once carried a lightweight canoe up to this lake and paddled across it. Fun!

Looking towards the south end of the island with the runway barely visible. The tip of Purple Lake is in the lower left and Tamgas Harbor beyond.

Looking east towards the backside of the island.

The ravens seem to enjoy riding the thermals off the mountain.

Looking north towards Walden Point Road with Ketchikan in the background.

Some lovely higher altitude flora that I couldn't even identify with Verna Pratt's book 'Alaskan Wildflowers'. :huh

Comet sure seems to be doing a lot of squinting in this unplanned wonderful bright sunshine! :D

Well, shall we head on down now?

Back down on the dry and dusty road. I'd say Comet has pretty good camo for this terrain.

Coming up: some of my best ever sunset shots in Southeast Alaska!

AKDuc 08-20-2007 12:35 AM

Timber and fishing used to be very lucrative throughout southeast Alaska. Now timber is nonexistent and the cannery shut down and sold off most it's machinery in Metlakatla. There is still a cold storage that processes a nominal amount of seafood including the relatively new sea cucumber and urchin harvests. There is talk of the cannery maybe reopening next year. Over the years MANY of us worked the cannery. It was sort of a rite of passage for a young person and it included great socializing and camaraderie among the townsfolk. Fun!

The town used to be nothing but boardwalks before streets were put in. Most were elevated unlike this one. The last remnants of some leading down to the cannery.

A boathouse next to the cannery.

Looking out of the boathouse.

Alrighty then. In wrapping up my time in Metlakatla we'll start with another Comet shot then go into some of the best sunset shots I've gotten down there in a long long time. I was lucky enough to get some pretty good ones in the past on slide film that were fun to look at on the big screen.

vegasphotog 08-20-2007 09:13 AM


DOOD....a great read thus far with outstanding photography....I had never heard of your reservation and I would feel equally proud to have roots coming from such a great Alaskan community. I look forward to your teaser sunset photo. :evil


tkfisher 08-20-2007 10:16 AM

I rarley get to visit the website, and I always enjoy finding one of your reports. Thanks so much for your insights.:clap I look forwrd to the next installment.Your cousin.

Kilo Sierra 08-20-2007 11:32 AM

Nicely Done.

I miss southeast.

Times are GMT -7.   It's 05:18 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2015