Haines Alaska

Jul 01, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird

We awoke to a partly sunny day among the first “civilization” we had seen since we left Sitka three days ago. The small town of Haines sits at the scenic mouth of the Chilkat River and the head of Lynn Canal, surrounded by many snow-capped 4500-foot peaks. The home of the Klukwan clan of the Tlingit people for hundreds of years, it is now the most northern reach of the Inside Passage and the Alaskan Marine Highway System. From here, native people accessed interior trade routes and today’s travelers exit the state ferries with their campers and RVs intent on exploring Alaska independently.

We all did our own share of independent travel today, choosing among a list of excursions that would make any adventure seeker happy. Some, including this author, chose to visit the ancestral home and cultural center of the Klukwan people, followed up by a Chilkat River float and lunch. Others opted for a fly-fishing tour with a local guide, while the active-minded hopped on a bike to explore town and its outer reaches. Many guests took advantage of an aerial perspective of the surrounding peaks, valleys, and glaciers and hopped on an afternoon flightseeing trip and came back wide-eyed and awed by the vast beauty of Southeast Alaska.

A crab and barbecue brisket dinner was followed by a rousing round of Alaskan Wildlife Jeopardy. Guests had a chance to compete with their fellow travelers and test their knowledge, or learn from others, about animals that make Alaska their home.

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About the Author

John Pachuta


John has been interested in traveling, what can be learned from it, and sharing it with others, since his days as a youth growing up in rural Ohio. A graduate of Marietta College with a BA in Recreation Management, his wanderlust and yearning for adventure has taken him to 49 states (forlorn for Fargo) and over 35 countries on 5 continents.  

About the Photographer

James Hyde


James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf.

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