After a beautiful and restful night at anchor outside of Sitka in Beehive Cove, we awoke. With our bodies and minds recharged after our previous day of travel, we set sail to Sergius Narrows and Peril Strait – a narrow waterway that meanders its way between Baranof and Chichagof Islands in Southeast Alaska. Humpback whales entertained us with their breathing as we made our way to our afternoon destination of Sitkoh Bay. Sitkoh Bay is on the southeast corner of Chichagof Island, and it serves as a magnificent reminder that even an area that has been clear-cut in its past can rebound when left untouched by man. We spent our afternoon hiking in this spectacular area – witnessing new growth forest, banana slugs, bald eagles, and brown bears. We frolicked amongst them, breathed in the rich fresh air that surrounded us, and gained new perspectives on life in this spectacular temperate rainforest. With more days to come, our desires for nature were satiated for the day. Thank you, Southeast Alaska!
National Geographic Quest
Morning fog swallowed the Southeast Alaskan wilderness. As we cruised into Ushk Bay, anticipation seized the vessel. This morning’s hikes and Zodiac cruises were to be our final operations of the trip; every last one of us was eager to be ensconced in the wonders of the Tongass once again. Following a delicious breakfast — prepared by head chef Paul Cotta and his dedicated team — we set out for shore. Through a light rain we cruised on Zodiacs toward our landing, scattering bald eagles and common mergansers that had congregated along the shore. Ushk Bay’s annual salmon run was nearing its conclusion —and we could smell it. The shoreline was littered with rotting carcasses of pink and chum salmon, many of which were picked apart by corvids, gulls, and bears. Whether or not any of these individuals survived long enough to spawn is a mystery, but there is one certainty amidst this carnage — their sacrifice is not in vain. Their carcasses will enrich this place, injecting the forest with nutrients from the sea. Our last afternoon was spent cruising toward our anchorage near Sitka. The final day of a Lindblad Expeditions cruise is always a hard day. We have all forged new bonds in the fires of wilderness. Every one of us has found ourselves challenged and rewarded, humbled and humored, inspired and inspirational throughout this week. Our new bonds will, thanks to modern technology, be preserved in photographs and videos. Many will be carried on through photos and emails, but this group will never be reconstituted. Though it’s hard to say goodbye, the impermanence of this troupe makes the experience all the more poignant. These adventurers will surely be missed.