Thursday, July 12, 2012

Haines, AK

Saturday, July 7th- Today was an early morning….up at 4 am to be lined up for the ferry at 5am. We would leave at 7am for Haines, the last stop on the Inside Passage and our final ferry ride. It was rainy, of course   ;- )   but it is sooo much easier to get hitched up now, than with the pop-up. A cup of coffee to go and a cinnamon bagel that we had picked up yesterday from the Silver Bow made the early morning hour tolerable.

The views on the ferry ride were not really impressive with the steady drizzle, but I have enjoyed the time to work on my blogs and Fred had been steadily working his way through a whole series of books on his Kindle. The Kindles have been one of our best ideas.  : )   

We arrived in Haines about 11:45am. We drove straight on to Chilkoot Lake State Park campground where we had stayed 2 years ago. We had remembered seeing a number of Brown bears feeding on salmon in the Chilkoot River on our last visit and wondered if we would see any this time. Unfortunately, we were too early in the season for the salmon to be running, and the river level was very high, and that was keeping the salmon out, too. And, without the salmon runs, the bears were not ‘hanging out’.  Oh well…..

Haines is also famous for its eagles. This time of year there are about 200 resident eagles around Haines, but in late Fall, several thousand eagles congregate around the Haines area for the final salmon run. I think it is unlikely that we will in Haines in the late Fall, so we just have to be content with the occasional sighting.


We were looking for eagles, but the only one we spotted was this fellow in a tree along the Chilkoot River.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the one resident of this temperate rainforest that is ever present….the mosquito!We experienced LOTS of them….everywhere…..and Haines was no exception. They are annoying, but if you spray with OFF, keep moving, or perfect the constant hand waving in front of your face, you will survive. They do take some of the fun out of sitting around outside, but, it has been nice to have our camper to take refuge in.

After setting up camp, we headed into Haines to look around and to go by the visitors center to see what we might want to do. It is amazing how much of the town looked familiar from our last visit. We remembered where the the library was, and we stopped in to get on the Wi-Fi and post a few blogs. There wasn’t much that we wanted to do in town, and the weather had cleared up a bit, so we drove out Beach road to the Battery  Point trailhead for a nice hike.

This trail was about a mile through the rainforest down to the beach.


The first 10 or 15 minutes of the hike was on a graveled trail……


With boardwalk over the low areas.


The trail became progressively rougher, stepping over roots……


And climbing up and down the little creek beds……But all in all, not to bad a trail……

We surprised ourselves at how many rainforest plants that we had learned to identify.


There is the Hemlock tree with its new green tips. It looks like a spruce tree, but the bark is a bit different and the needles are softer.


And the Devil’s Club, which is a woody plant that grows in clumps or groves and is named for the very prickly spines on its stem. Devil’s Club has a variety of medicinal uses and is often used by the locals in a salve or in soaps.


And Skunk Cabbage, which grows rather large and is edible, but, I am told that it can be bitter when mature. Skunk Cabbage leaves are sometimes used by the native peoples to wrap food in for baking over a fire. Bears are also fond of Skunk Cabbage. I picture them making a feast of Skunk Cabbage wrapped salmon (after stealing it, of course, from some poor camper.)


And there is Baneberry, which we were introduced to by the Glacier Bay Rangers. Baneberry, at this time of year is just getting its green berries, but will later have nice, shiny red berries. Baneberries are VERY poisonous! Only 6 or so berries will kill an adult. It is a good plant to be able to identify!

After about 45 minutes of hiking, we arrived at the Battery Point Beach. The beauty of this area is amazing!


Sometimes, when we take a quiet moment, it hits us……We are in Alaska! It is kind-of hard to believe……

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