Thursday, June 10, 2010

From my journal - Haines, Alaska


On a whale-watching expedition to the Southeast Passage of Alaska

Wow.  Today we had several choices of activities, all in and around Haines.  We, along with three others, chose to fly over to Weeping Trout resort to Lake Chilkat for some fishing.  The ride over was quick, about 15 minutes in a Cherokee 6.  There wasn’t much to see on the flight over, but we all saw the gravel strip where we would land and all cringed a little.  

When we climbed out of the plane on the landing strip  - if you can call it that -  the air was perfumed with the sweet aroma of scrub willow.  We walked for about ten minutes through a bush-like area to the landing for our boats.  The path was lined with willows and wildflowers and other fragrant plant life that we did not recognize.

The flatboat ride (jet motors) across Lake Chilkat took about another ten minutes.  We passed through a gate where salmon fry are counted and we saw a group of otters playing.

By 11:00 we were out on the lake - Clint and I in one boat, the others in another.  We fished - hard- for two hours, but all the work was to no avail.  Clint caught two little cutthroat trout, and I never even had a bite.  It was hard to be cranky, though.  Just to be fishing in that magnificent setting was a privilege.  Twice I looked up and saw bald eagles in a tree above us, watching us intently.  A couple of swans flew down the lake on the other side.  There were waterfalls along both sides.  While we were eating lunch , a Rufous hummingbird visited the feeder at the lodge.

The flight back, in a 4 seater Archer was longer and more interesting than the flight over.  Our pilot took us up the Yahkin River valley, a glacial valley that still has several glaciers.  They were so blue and beautiful.  They appear blue because the ice absorbs all colors except blue, which reflects back.

After we departed Haines, before dinner, we had an opportunity to see dozens of Stellar sea lions,  most of them hauled out onto the rocks, some playing in the water, even hauling out over and over again to dive off.

What a day.

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