While Erica took the skies in a float plane to view the Misty Fjords area surrounding Ketchikan, I started my day off with a view of two eagles hunting for fish near the cruise ship. Shortly after, I boarded a small jet boat to tour the surrounding waters south and east of Ketchikan.
After about a 30 minute ride we came close to an outcropping of rocks covered with seaweed near the shore. Two large groups of harbor seals were basking in the early morning overcast sky. We watched them for about 10 minutes. All of them were very leery of the boat and quite skittish, so we kept our distance. They looked like they were waiting for something, probably the salmon which are about two weeks late this year. We also viewed several eagles flying over the water and saw an eagle nest high in a tree.
We made our way to the next point of our expedition. After unloading on the shore, we donned our rubber boots and water/mud proof pants for a two mile hike into the temperate rain forest. It rains an unbelievable 13 ½ feet of rain after year. Yes, I did say 13 ½ feet or about 165 inches of rain per year. So, it was no surprise that a gentle rain fell almost the entire time we were hiking. There were many sections of this “unimproved” trail that were quite muddy sometimes going up to our knees. Other spots felt like we were walking on sponges because of the moss and roots.
About half way through the hike, we spotted a black bear about 150 yards away. I was able to see it for about 10 seconds, but the tour guide spoke a little too loud and that frightened it away. Later in the day we saw a black bear cub but not their mother. It was exhilarating to see these creatures.
As we hiked alongside the White River, which is a popular fly fishing area because the salmon spawn here, we ate wild blueberries and salmon berries. Very cool and quite tasty!
Only six of us were hiking; two guides and four hikers. It made for a very peaceful experience which enabled us to get in touch with the environment around us. I could not imagine walking through this almost impassable forest without the small bit of trail we had. The animals are completely adapted and get around very easily. We had some rough going at several points.
The list of wildlife I saw today was long:
- 17 eagles (one was immature; i.e. less than five years old)
- 2 black bears
- 2 or 3 dozen harbor seals
- 2 fire belly newts
- 3 very large banana slugs
- 1 kingfisher
I also was able to see two more eagle nests and the tracks of a mature black bear, a black bear cub, a wolf, a pine martin and some Sitka black deer tracks.
It was an incredible day experiencing and connecting with the immense wilderness that Ketchikan is but a small part.
Tomorrow we arrive in Victoria, Canada on Vancouver Island. Our mission is to see orca or killer whales feeding off the coast of the city.
Here’s to creating and finding adventure!