Girls' Trip, Redefined

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Off the beaten trail

Words and Photos by Erica Ticknor

Dusty boots, bear sightings, failed Halibut snags: just a few things we keep in our memory bank from the girls’ trip. We know that it is something out of the ordinary, but we like it that way.

2018 meant our second annual girls’ trip, and it was going to be tough to beat our camping trip to Glacier National Park in 2017. Our instinct was to keep with tradition:  a girls’ trip that is “off the beaten trail,” so to speak. When the idea came about that we should go to Sitka, Alaska, and stay with a friend’s family, there was no way we would pass that up. After a few months of planning, it was set to happen, and the 2018 girls’ trip to Sitka was underway. Our itinerary was full of mountainous hikes, salmon fishing, and stops at the local brewery, Baranof Island Brewing. Lucky for us, our host, a brother of one of the girls, had a fishing boat and a plethora of experience as a tour guide. 

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Alaska is a vast state, with many different landscapes packed into a small area. In a single moment, you can see a range of snow-covered peaks with flowing rivers leading to an endless ocean. And then, with a quick turn of your head, you can see a retired volcano on an island. 

Our first day commenced with a 6-mile hike on Harbor mountain, a peak that provided a vista of strung together islands and the small village of Sitka down below. After a few hours passed, we skipped down the mountain and found ourselves back in the village, ready for an afternoon of fishing.

Sockeye salmon, silver salmon, and halibut: words that make my mouth water, but seem so out-of-reach as a novice fisherwoman. Sitka behind our wake, we set out to fish, leaving a halibut trap on our way to the river. The bumpy boat ride lasted about a half-hour before we reached a river estuary with a shoal of salmon springing from the water. Though we did our best to catch the next morning’s bagels and lox, the few hours of fishing turned out empty-handed. The adventure wasn’t a complete failure, though, as we had a cinnamon black bear friend we could admire from afar. 

Trimmed with snow covered mountains, the Sitka Sound is so full of life. Seals crowd the light buoys, and if you’re in luck, you can see a whale breach. Amidst the breeze, you can hear the honks of fishing vessels and seagulls. We cruised back to check our halibut trap, and following suit, we came up short.

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Maybe it was the hunger of filling day one with all of the activities or maybe it was the one-too-many beers at the Pioneer Bar, but our day two started off a little bit later with not as much activity. However, we supplemented our laziness with our best catches. Fishing on the beach was much easier than fishing from the boat, and every one of us caught a salmon. We cherished them like trophies, while daydreaming of the cream cheese and caper spread we would be making with our rewards. 

After our trip, I was left with the question of what exactly is a “girls’ trip”? Is it a trip filled with feminine activities, used as an escape to leave behind lives of responsibilities? Or is it simply a tript aken by a group of girls? Regardless of the definition, I am grateful to be surrounded by women willing to get their hands dirty rather than manicured, eat their own salmon catches rather than pay for a fancy brunch, and take time to disconnect and embrace each other’s company rather than stay glued to the virtual world. 

Sitka, we will be back. 

Caroline Royce