Inian Islands and Fox Creek

Jul 26, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Gray clouds hung over the horizon as we woke to National Geographic Sea Cloud making her way towards the Inian Islands. This small group of islands constitutes a wilderness area south of the Fairweather Range and lies roughly 30 miles from Glacier Bay National Park. Their position between the Inside Passage and the Pacific Ocean, along with their proximity to the mountains, means the weather can be quite changeable!

We dropped anchor in the morning and started our day with an adventurous expedition into the heart of the Inians. As the tides move in and out, Pacific seawater mixes with the Inside Passage to create a whirling, riotous array of currents which bring deep water rushing to the surface, along with the nutrients and fish that inhabit it. Steller sea lions, sea otters, bald eagles, and an array of other wildlife swarm to this area to take advantage of the literal seafood buffet that accompanies these changing tides. By taking our small inflatable boats into the currents, we had the unique opportunity to view many of these species up close, resulting in incredible wildlife photography, as well as one of the most memorable experiences of the trip.

The rain and fog began to lift as we cruised to nearby Fox Creek in the afternoon, where we split into groups to go kayaking and hiking. Our shore excursion was a true Alaska experience over bear trails, including a bit of bushwhacking! The rewards are worth it: Fox Creek is one of the few places in Southeast Alaska where perennial bear tracks are visible. These semi-permanent prints are the result of local brown bears walking in the exact same footprints left by previous bears and creating foundations in the ground over time, not unlike human footprints or handprints left in wet cement. While there were no bears visible today, we’re keeping our eyes open for tomorrow’s excursion to Glacier Bay National Park!

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About the Author

Lauren Buchholz

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Lauren’s wanderlust has taken her from the Appalachians to the Rockies to the Southern Alps.

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