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A Glorious Hiking Adventure

09-06-2012

By Mark, Expedition Guide, Wilderness Discoverer

The small boat filled with orange, lifejacket-clad hikers moved rapidly toward its drop-off spot on the somewhat rocky, kelp-draped beach adjacent to an unnamed river. Each guest touched ground and readied for the morning hike at Port Houghton – a scenic bay on the mainland coast just east of Frederick Sound’s merger with Stephens Passage.

The Level-4 trek opened with grassy, tidal-flat terrain, alive with varied wildflowers like Red Paintbrush and Alaska Cotton intermixed with bright-green mosses. Soon the walkers entered the forest where towering Sitka Spruce blocked out the sky. Within minutes, the area changed yet again as the group emerged from the trees into the open muskeg – a northern peat bog. There few trees exist, but numerous berries thrive. Guests tasted cloudberry, crowberry, and bog blueberry. Yummy!

After dropping down a short but steep hillside, the hikers walked along the river. An abundance of Pink salmon were seen making their way upstream to spawn. Many of these determined swimmers showed signs of decay, a reminder that each neared the end of its life cycle. Partially-eaten fish carcasses were scattered along the river bank. A clear sign mainland bears, likely both Coastal Brown (grizzly) and smaller Black, had been earlier fishing for a meal. Bear scat, too, confirmed their presence. Eagles lined the trees, ready to swoop down to scavenge the leftover fish.

The group continued to move along the river’s edge, climbing over and under logs, wading ankle-deep in the water and bushwhacking through the scrubby undergrowth. Eventually all made their way upstream toward a small but scenic waterfall. Another glorious adventure in Southeast Alaska!

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