From April to October, the Alaska Marine Highway makes a monthly run to several of the villages. Our trip in August we dubbed the "teacher's cruise" as most of the passengers were teachers going out to start the school year.
Our first impression of the villages is the pier. Some are close to town, some are around a harbor. Chignik's pier leads into the village. Each village pier has it's own personality, and it's own dog!
The pier in Chignik has two arms with tie up's in the center for short term parking for smaller boats to take on fuel and supplies, or to off-load their catch.
The Dog in Chignik was a Malamut, dirty, hairy, and friendly. Be sure to bring "Purell" to wash your hands afterwards.
Part of the charm of Chignik is the boardwalk. This is a nice break from gravel paths. Of course you will end up on the gravel later, but this is a nice touch, and it keeps your XtraTufs clean.
"XtraTufs" are the standard footwear in coastal Alaska. A brand name for the most popular rubber boots, you can call them whatever is popular in your lexicon: glaoshes, rubbers, wellingtons, mud boots . .
A meandering stream in the tall grass on one side of the road makes the village build on the other side of the road, and means you have a view of the harbor and this field. A peaceful setting, and a wonderful place to contemplate what is good in life.
In Alaska, people are the intruders on the landscape, and rather than bulldoze nature out of existance, people stay where nature allows, what a concept.
If you go to Chignik in late summer. See the "Humpys" swim upstream to the spawning grounds. You can look from the road bridge or this pretty foot bridge. It looks like it is in need of some repairs, but it seemed stable enough. We had to leave the road on a small footpath to get to this bridge but you get a view that is less crowded.
Do not be afraid to explore, there are wonderful things to discover.
What in the world are you looking at in this picture? If you look carefully (or enlarge the picture) you will see the salmon swimming in the stream.
This is a fascinating migration to watch. The river is full of fish fighting their way up to the spawning grounds. I can watch them for hours. There is a lot going on, fish fighting for position, bullying, chasing, and just working their way up to where the females lay their eggs. And you thought life was tough at your local singles bar!
Chignik has a purple post office. Stop and mail your postcards for a unique postmark "Chignik, AK 99564" and say "Hi" to Sonya the postmaster.
As a postal worker, I like to visit the smaller offices and collect the postmarks. Anyone can get postmarks from Anchorage, so take advantage of your opportunities.
Check out this old anchor just off the pier. These old anchors can be found in many villages, and are very beautiful remnants of a time when wooden ships sailed in these waters. Beautiful! you may say, seeing the rusted iron and wormy wood, but yes! they are beautiful for what they are.
Castle Cape presents a beautiful entrance to Chignik. If the for is down, you can miss this sight in the morning, but be sure to look for it on your way in, and your way out. You will get another chance if you book the round trip out to Dutch Harbor.
If you wonder how it got its name, take a look at the picture.