Our first day started out in true Alaskan style… a brown bear before breakfast and humpback whales after! The humpbacks presented us with a rarely seen tandem dive with flukes up simultaneously. We continued to cruise up Chatham Strait to our afternoon destination, Lake Eva on Hanus Bay. On our way, Mike Greenfelder, gave a photo presentation followed by a hands-on workshop to practice photo techniques.
Lunch was served and then it was time for our first hike in the Tongass National Forest! The day had been a bit misty, so we geared up with our raingear and rubber boots, but once inside the forest, the overhead canopy of Sitka spruce and Western hemlock trees shielded us from the liquid sunshine. Lake Eva Trail is an excellent walk that winds around an estuary, gradually climbing above a salmon stream and waterfall. Above the falls is a holding pond full of pink salmon, waiting to travel upstream to spawn.
A variety of options were offered for our time ashore; some chose an exercise hike, others a moderate-paced medium hike and there was also a kayaking option. The first round of kayakers was able to paddle up to the waterfall, but the tide was dropping fast and it was tricky to find a way back without getting grounded on the rocks. However, good things come to those who wait… the last hiking group out saw a mother brown bear and cub fishing for salmon on the waterfall!