Cascade Creek & Petersburg

Aug 29, 2017 - National Geographic Sea Lion


The funny thing about Southeast Alaska is you just never know what the day may bring, either weather wise, wildlife encounters, or hiking experiences! This particular morning started out very foggy, with maybe only one hundred feet of visibility, as we dropped anchor off of Cascade Creek, a National Forest Service trail located just a short cruise north of the town of Petersburg.

Luckily, by the time breakfast had finished, and the ship was gearing up for the morning activities, the fog had lifted almost entirely, revealing a mostly cloud-free sky above the magnificent scenery of Southeast Alaska! So, we had almost perfect weather for the first kayaking opportunity, and first forest hikes of our expedition under near perfect conditions!

As soon as the hikers arrived on shore they started off on several different lengths of hike, long, medium, and short. All of these went on the same trail along a roaring mountain stream, up to a dramatic waterfall that had a wall of mist emanating from it, which created rainbows and dramatic beams of light through the surrounding forest as the sun rose over the nearby mountain top! The medium and long hikes continued on up the newly improved trail to a bridge crossing Cascade Creek above the falls, and then beyond to differing degrees as the length of hikes dictated!

Soon it was time to return to the ship, pick up our inflatable landing craft, weigh anchor, and head south through Frederick Sound to the fishing town of Petersburg for a full afternoon of activities. First, round one of the “flight seeing” groups headed off to experience glaciers, wildlife and the mountains from a seaplane, for most an once-in-a-lifetime experience! Then the first hiking groups navigated Wrangell Narrows, crossing over to Kupreanof Island for walks through the bog, or muskeg, habitat, which is a unique feature of the day’s activities. About ten percent of the Tongass National Forest is covered by this acidic wetland habitat, and this is our best opportunity to experience it over a boardwalk that greatly limits any damage to this sensitive environment. Next there were several rounds of “dock walks” to learn about the fishing industry, more “bog walks”, a photo walk in town, some biking if inclined, and finally just a chance to relax, or maybe walk around the community to get a better taste of life in a Southeast Alaska working town!

All aboard was six o’clock, we had a talk by a local resident about life in Petersburg, and what it’s like to be part of the fishing industry, and then the day’s final highlight, a “Dungeness Crab” feast. A great way to end a great day!

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About the Author

Rich Kirchner

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Rich Kirchner has worked as a naturalist in Antarctica, Alaska, the Bering Sea, Baja and the High Arctic, including Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Iceland. His 25 years as a professional wildlife photographer has granted him international publication credits included in magazines such as Geo Germany, Geo France, Natural History, Audubon, National Wildlife and Ranger Rick, as well as more than a hundred books.

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