Lake Eva

Aug 27, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Walking into a temperate rain forest for the first time can, for some, be a jarring experience. Moving from the bustle of embarkation in Sitka and the busy hub of activity aboard National Geographic Sea Lion, to the deafening silence and majesty of the forest primeval, stopped us in our tracks. After only a few steps in, we were forced to pause, crane our necks upwards, and breathe deep.

Surrounded by a rich understory of devil’s club, blueberry, skunk cabbage and dwarf dogwood, draped beneath a towering canopy of yellow cedar, western hemlock and Sitka spruce, we marveled at the lush and verdant flora that engulfed us. Upon entering this natural cathedral, one must simply stop and take it all in. If you were to try and paint the scene, you would quickly seek every hue of green on your pallet.

After recomposing ourselves and filling up our lungs with the pure air, our eyes with pure green and our ears with pure silence, we continued our walk to Lake Eva. The well-maintained trail was conducive to easy walking and long looks into the depths of the forest. Occasionally the trail took us near giant conifers, both standing strong, and long fallen. While dominated by greens and browns there were several splashes of bright orange in the form of the fungus “Chicken of the Woods.” Approaching the lake, a common loon called out, breaking the silence—for some, a call that epitomizes wilderness.

On our return from the lake we ambled down a small embankment to the shores of a salmon stream flowing out of the lake. It was plugged with pink salmon in the final stage of their amazing life cycle. These were the survivors--the rare few that had survived countless threats and challenges to be able to spawn in their natal stream and create a new generation of salmon to follow in their epic wake.

On a day where we saw a brown bear, bald eagles, harbor seals and several humpback whales cavorting about, for many of us, the day’s highlight was bearing witness to one of the most difficult, dangerous and arduous reproductive strategies of the animal kingdom set within the silent, serene solitude of the temperate rain forest of Southeast Alaska.

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About the Author

Sean Neilson


The summer after Sean graduated from college, he waited tables in Yellowstone to delay entering “the real world”. It was there, in the unending beauty of such a special place, where he realized the natural world was the real world—and it had captured him. 

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