Chatham Strait and Lake Eva

Jun 18, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

In short today was a perfect day.  The only aspect missing was the usual precipitation that Southeast Alaska is known for, though our guests didn’t seem to mind its absence. Well, before breakfast the early risers were rewarded with some personal time with a lone humpback whale casually travelling southward through Chatham Strait. The skies were clear with the exception of dramatic fog banks clinging to the forested shorelines and tidal inlets. There were whale blows visible over the horizon at nearly all perspectives and as the morning progressed the wake-up call was made at 0645 by our Expedition Leader Sheri Bluestein. With the bow and forward decks filled soon all were engrossed in the spectacle of these magnificent whales making easy work of their breakfast. Under dead calm conditions and with literally tons of activity we watched the show for over an hour prior to tending to our own breakfast needs. But the morning show wasn’t over yet, as we had spotted some killer whales in the distance just before we started breakfast. So with the keen eyes of our staff and crew we positioned the ship in their vicinity so that we could view these amazing top predators just after breakfast.  There were three individuals, spread out over several miles; they too were in search of an early meal of Pacific salmon. The mornings viewing of these iconic creatures had been so wonderful that we had to slightly alter our plans for the afternoon’s activities. That’s the way we like it, as our motto often is, “wildlife trumps all”.

Plan B as it happens was every bit as good as Plan A. Here in Southeast Alaska, there’s little or no second best, for the stunning beauty and rugged coast line always holds something special for us to explore.  The afternoon was spent kayaking and hiking at Lake Eva, where so many facets of life here are concentrated. The lake itself is nestled in the valley that glaciers carved out thousands of years prior. Part of The Tongas National Forest, our nation’s largest national forest at roughly 17 million acres, Lake Eva has a well maintained trail that parallels the idyllic salmon stream that drains the lake spilling out into a tidal lagoon. This would be our first foray into the temperate rainforest where towering Sitka spruce and western hemlock rule, where moss laden limbs and the forest floor still hold the precious moisture from the abundant rainfall that graces this landscape. While several of us trekked through the forest and up to the lake itself, others would split their time between a shorter excursion into the forest and paddling along the shoreline by kayak, making our first day a complete and well-rounded introduction to Southeast Alaska. 

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri


Doug Gualtieri has worked as a Naturalist interpretive guide for over 20 years, beginning his career in Denali National Park and Preserve at a remote wilderness lodge leading hikes and giving lectures on the ecology and wildlife of that region. Later he began leading Lindblad Expeditions land extensions to Denali in 2002 and has worked with Lindblad in some form or another ever since. With a background in Biology and a lifelong passion for the natural world Doug moved to Talkeetna, Alaska in 1999 from his home state of Michigan, and never looked back.

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