Thursday, 7 July 2011

False Pass

False Pass is the site of an abandoned cannery, situated on Unimak island, just across the Isanotski Strait from the Alaskan mainland. Geologically, the island is part of the Alaska peninsula: there just happens to be a flooded channel between them, and it is also the first island we came across which has bears. We didn't actually see any bears, but from what the locals told us, they do occasionally find their way into the village. It certainly seemed the sort of landscape from which bears might emerge.

We had thought that Adak was small-town, but False Pass took this to a new level: a summer population of under 100 goes down to around 30 in the winter! The people we met turned out to be very friendly, and very interested to hear about our travels - the few cars around would frequently stop to say hello. One family who greeted us had a 10-year-old son with an unbelievable amount of pure unbridled enthusiasm. He energetically told us about all the different fish he caught in the area, and took a great interest in the various foreign coins we had amongst us when he and his friends came to visit us aboard the boat.

One day when P-O and I were wandering around the village, we were passed by  the coin collector and his friends riding quad bikes. The boys were keen to show us around, and we thus inadvertently found ourselves hitch-hiking on quad bikes driven by 10-year-olds...

(what does it say on that sign?)

After being taken through a narrow gap in a hedge and along a bumpy track through the undergrowth at the whim of our drivers, P-O and I were transferred to one vehicle and both driven to the cannery.
Only a few of the old cannery buildings are now in use - mostly as stores and workshops; the majority of the site is left as it was when the cannery closed. You can look through the windows of the buildings and see the offices left just as if the employees had been planning to return the next day.
The threat of bears and a lack of time prevented us from going to explore the mountains, which are beautiful, and big enough to support glaciers.

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