BREAKING: DON’T STRAP IN. DON’T KEEP READING. WE WILL NOT BE ISSUEING A REPORT ABOUT OUR RECENT TRIP TO PRINCE OF WALES. DO NOT KEEP READING.
Ron here. I don’t have anything to say. Please ignore everything past this.
Sunday, I got back from a dive trip to one of the more remote areas of Southeast Alaska; Prince of Wales island. It was my first time on the island (it was really my first time in Southeast Alaska outside of Juneau). Because I promised my wonderful friends and hosts on the island I wouldn’t blow their cover, I swore I wouldn’t tell anyone about the Land That Time Forgot.
So, I can’t really tell you anything about it.
I definitely won’t mention the incredible hospitality I was shown in the weeks leading up to my unexpected visit, and while I was there. I won’t mention people going out of their way to find me a place to sleep, cars to drive, and boats to dive off of. I won’t mention the diving around POW holds its own as a heavy-weight contender in the wild world of cold-water scuba diving.
I promised I wouldn’t, so I would never say that.
I won’t mention the completely bonkers hydrology, geology, and marine life of the area, that creates some of the more unique and startling diving I’ve ever done. I won’t mention how much I appreciate the humans that live on Prince of Wales, and their willingness to invite stray dogs into their homes and treat them like family, for no reason whatsoever, outside of a shared passion and joy of where they live and the water that surrounds them. They asked me not to, so of course I won’t bring that up.
I also can’t mention scallops the size of dinner plates, drinking top-notch beer from First & Main Brewing while hanging up dive gear (which is ‘hypothetically’ the sole brewery on the island), or the fact that sea cucumbers (prepared properly) make fried clams taste like cardboard. We definitely didn’t have a grey whale surface 20 ft. from the boat while we were getting ready to dive. I explicitly did not see nudibranchs the size of Nalgene bottles.
I definitely won’t mention any plans to go back and keep exploring.
What I CAN talk about is that getting to Prince of Wales is a colossal pain-in-the-ass. No exaggeration: it would have been faster to fly to Florida, New York City, or Hawaii. I can tell you that the drive between Craig and Thorne Bay in a blizzard is awful. There really isn’t anywhere to get breakfast early in the morning on a Sunday. It rains a lot.
I’ll happily tell you that diving in the middle of a radio dead zone is unnerving. My question about who to radio in an emergency was met with a “Yeaaaahhhhhh…. nobody.” No Coast Guard, no harbor, nobody. I can say that the flight from Ketchikan to POW was disturbingly similar to the first act of The Grey. Paying for internet by the megabyte isn’t fun, and the cell reception is spotty and slow.
And let me be the first to tell you: all of that definitely means it’s not anywhere you should want to go. All of the minor inconveniences grossly overshadow the immense amount of life and exploring possibility around POW. Don’t go; you’ll just be disappointed.
(Guys, I think I fooled ‘em.)