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Recon Run into Bay of Pillars


By Dan Tucker, Licensed Deckhand

It was the first week of the season and here we are, back in action as if I never left last fall. I have so missed this great big land up yonder. I have wonderful stories and memories of so many places—several of the bays and inlets that we travel feel I’m returning home. Bay of Pillars is one such location. It’s nestled on Kuiu Island, just opposite Baranof Island, whose grand range of white peaks stretches for nearly 95 miles down Chatham Strait.

This afternoon, Dan Blanchard, our CEO who joined us by kayak earlier this week, decided to go on a recon hike far into the back of the Bay of Pillars. I’ve visited this bay several times, but never the narrows leading into the back of the bay, which is quite an expansive, remote locale. It’ll be farther than we’ve ever explored and I’m stoked!

We load a group of intrepid explorers, a few guides, Dan, and myself (driving) into the skiff. Off we go in our fastest small boat—named Grizzly. After a 40-minute ride, roaring through the narrows as the tide speeds us on, we burst into the back bay, and the cloud layer shifts and wafts, revealing snow-capped peaks and mysterious rain forest that awaits our adventurous group.

Snow-capped mountains

Snow-capped mountains shrouded in a fine mist

We finally reach our landing, and disembark. Soon after we scramble up from shore, we run across a fresh deer skeleton, and moose scat. The trees are wispy in the wind, and the hike before us reveals a lone peak, still covered in it’s winter pack. Several of us stop to admire the solitude and silence, the grandeur and majesty of a land that retains a stoic beauty that is indescribable for those who’ve never seen it.

Grand, majestic land

Taking in the majesty of the Great Land on the hike

We hike for an hour and a half before returning the small boat. A large waterfall and small rapids plays backdrop to a group photo as we prepare to head back to Wilderness Discoverer.

Recon Group

The intrepid explorers pose for a group photo

As we enjoy the ride back, watching otters play as we pass by, ducking under the water and rafting together, I think about how wonderful it is that no matter how often you visit Alaska, there is always a new place to explore. Always a new angle to view the scenery, and always a new adventure that awaits you.

So, what are you waiting for?

Dan Tucker is the licensed deckhand aboard the Wilderness Discoverer. He visited the Bay of Pillars while cruising the Inner Reaches Western Coves itinerary.

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