Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lindblad in Alaska: Red Bluff Bay and Lake Eva

by Susan Weber, Lindblad Expeditions staff

20 June 2012

Red Bluff Bay and Lake Eva

Early morning found us cruising into the beautiful Red Bluff Bay, a striking inlet that cuts into the corner of Baranof Island. We were rewarded with the sighting of a brown bear and two cubs at the base of the cove, foraging on grasses and mussels early in the day. Mid-morning, naturalist Pete Peterson gave an informative lecture on "terrain tracks," highlighting the kinds of rocks and geology of Southeast Alaska. He explained that bits and large pieces of the earth's crust moving from the areas of the South Pacific, transported and grafted on piecemeal, make up Alaska. These blocks have been as large as several thousand square miles, traveling thousands of miles across the Pacific basin and added in waves, the last one beginning about 200 million years ago and continuing through to the present.

In the true spirit of adventure, our expedition leader, Larry Prussin, and Captain Coughlin offered us an unexpected treat to explore a place called Takatz Inlet. In no time after the anchor was set, our efficient crew lowered Zodiacs and kayaks for us to explore this captivating place. Steep walls, cascading waterfalls, verdant forests right to the edges of the cliffs surrounded us in the roomy fjord, and with low tide, provided interesting outcroppings and nooks to explore. Crystal-clear waters offered up great views of lion's mane jelly fish and rocky ledges for small fish to zip in and under amidst numerous crustaceans. Harbor seals showed their cute faces intermittently, providing a photo-op for the ready camera. The surrounding beauty, with sun peeking out, giving reflections of the walls on the water in this calm peaceful place, will no doubt be one of the highlights we can store in our minds' memory banks!

Lunch brought us inside and afterwards, just when we thought we might grab a siesta before landing at Lake Eva, a humpback whale lured us to the bow. Our first good sighting was well appreciated, as we observed the behavior of lunge-feeding and diving. Continuing our journey up Chatham Strait and into an arm called Peril Strait, we anchored at Hanus Bay, a small cove jutting into the northeastern coast of Baranof Island. Various hikes were offered into this rich mossy forest; some leg stretchers with a fast walk to Lake Eva and the reward of numerous old growth Sitka pines, or simply meandering into the soaring canopy along the river, neither options disappointing.

Truly a full day of grandeur in Southeast, and the magnificent beauty that we were fortunate to "step" into. This is the reason I've come back here many times, and I know this to be true for others who shared this day—the eve of summer solstice!