Sea Kayaking on the mothership Home Shore in SE Alaska. Destinations included Endicott Arm, West Chichagof, Icy Strait and a circumnavigation of Baranof Is.
June, 2004. An American Dipper beats a small, inch-and-a-half long fish – perhaps a candlefish or salmon fry – against a rock. She (or he) repositions the fish in her bill and beats some more – she’s like a meat tenderizer – beating it fifty, sixty, a hundred times. Finally, fish in bill, she flies a zig-zag course upstream. At first I think she’s going to reveal a nearby, stream-side nest, but she zips erratically onward, disappearing into the mist of a waterfall.
We’re in Patterson Bay, Baranof Island, SE Alaska. It’s my second of two tours aboard the sea kayak mothership Home Shore. Rain has impeded photography last few days, but today the overcast sky is perfect for scenics in a slender, un-named Baranof gorge that plunges through temperate rainforest. The scenery rivals canyons like Oregon’s Eagle Creek, and the waterfall, reminiscent of Metlako, bursts in from the side. A steam cloud floats aloft. Heavy mist blows downstream. I want to hike closer, but the current is swift, and I see no easy route on the bank. So I find some foreground ferns to give a photograph depth, and set up the tripod. Pretty soon I’m wiping mist from the camera lens.
When I return to my kayak, the piccolo crescendos of a Winter Wren rise above the din from the waterfall. The Dipper is back too, bobbing up and down on a rock, perhaps a bit stressed at my presence. I pack my tripod and camera gear, slide the kayak down rockweed into the sea, and paddle up the inlet to where the Home Shore awaits.
On our first tour we traveled to Endicott Arm, with stops at Baranof Warm Springs and the Brothers. On the return over the north end of Admiralty and Chichagof Islands, we paddled sea kayaks in Taylor Bay, on the outside of Yakobi, and to White Sulphur hotsprings.
Our second tour took us around rugged and fjord-like Baranof. Halfway through the trip the sun broke out, and it stayed until we arrived in Sitka. In addition to Patterson Bay, we had some exquisite paddling in Whiskey Cove, the Yamani Islets, and around the National Wildlife Refuge island of St. Lazaria in Sitka Sound.