Hanus Bay, Baranof Island and Sitkoh Bay, Chichagof Island
  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 01 Aug 2021

Hanus Bay, Baranof Island and Sitkoh Bay, Chichagof Island

  • Aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird
  • Alaska

A few arching humpbacks and backlit blows led us to our anchorage at Hanus Bay, where we explored the forest service trail along the stream to Lake Eva. Sockeye salmon and their anadromous relatives mustered and rested in the waters past the cascade they ran, on their way to spawning and contributing their bodies’ nutrients to the “salmon rainforest” along the streambed.

 

Kayakers paddled into the lagoon below the cataract among lazing harbor seals, chattering kingfishers, and swooping eagles, before the falling tide precluded entry. Hikers experienced the splendor of the temperate rainforest and the massive spruce and hemlock trees that grow large on oceanic nutrients courtesy of the spawning salmon. The translucent green leaves of devil’s club and other understory plants juxtaposed with the bright orange ‘chicken of the woods’ fungus on decomposing trees, and on the pink orchid stalks of the saprophytic coralroot.

 

Across Peril Strait, on an afternoon excursion in the rectangularly cut Sitkoh Bay, we hiked along an old logging trail. We passed thimbleberries, blueberry bear scats, and banana slugs, emerging onto a vast meadow at low tide where eagles and gulls perched along streams and a distant bear grazed in the vegetation.

 

On our evening passage we sailed lavender seas up Chatham Strait around Chichagof Island towards our next day’s destination. The mighty Fairweathers, the world’s highest coastal mountain range, emerged silhouetted against a sublime orange post-sunset sky.

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