May 22, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Under bright, windy skies National Geographic Sea Lion left her early morning anchorage heading for our first destination of the day, a hike to Lake Eva. This picturesque lake is located on the northeastern side of Baranof Island just inside Hanus Bay. Our arrival, in the early summer month of May, celebrates the beginning of the wildflower season. Throughout our trip Southeast Alaska, we had been treated to many hikes and the joy of finding the flowers of early summer along the Northwest Coast of North America. As soon as sunlight returns to the northern hemisphere, in early spring, a growing season bathed in 19 hours of daylight out of every 24, brings a vibrant and diverse array of wild flowers!
Upon arrival to Hanus Bay hikers, kayakers, and paddleboarders were brought ashore by Zodiac. We were divided into groups and headed up the trail along the river that flows out of Lake Eva. In the forest the bright sunshine found its way through the coniferous trees in wonderful dappled patterns. Looking up one saw the backlit bows of western hemlock and a myriad of mosses and lichens all enjoying the warm May sunlight.
Kayakers and hikers soon traded spots and a second round walked back into the old growth forest while kayakers returned to the surrounding bays to explore. All too soon we were all called back to our vessel for lunch. As we relaxed in the dining room, our ship began a leisurely cruise south in Chatham Strait. Watchful for marine mammals, we continued cruising throughout the afternoon. National Geographic Sea Lion continued her course along the eastern side of Baranof Island, stopping occasionally for Humpback whale sighting and a lovely late afternoon visit to Kasnyku Falls. Slowly our captain made his way ever closer to a 400-foot-tall waterfall, until we could easily hear the water pouring down over many cascades of rock ledges making its way into the waters of Chatham Strait.
As our ship began a slow retreat, a small vessel was making its way towards us. Soon announcements were made and we were going to be treated to a late afternoon program by the Director of the Alaska Whale Foundation, Andy Szabo, who has been doing whale research in Southeast Alaska for nearly 20 years. Andy had everyone thoroughly engaged for over an hour, as he described his latest research about the “culture” involved in the lives of humpback whales. As we listened and learned, many of us commented, once again, on the beauty and complexity of this unique sliver of land along the northwest coast of North America known endearingly as Southeast Alaska.
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