Alaska 5 — The Wild Shore

Another day, another wilderness paradise! We have crossed back to the mainland, but you can’t tell from the landscape. The long, steep-sided bays could be anywhere in this wild country. Adventurers explore by kayak, and even paddleboard.

2023 paddles

I take another shore tour and see more intertidal life. The locals love to hide under rocks. Sea stars, sea cucumber, sea urchins, clams and mussels galore.

2032 treasure chest

2035 painted

 

 

 

Our guide shows us a few unexpected uses for the resources here, like how to extract pigment from mussel shells to make face paint. 

 

Also, some fresh Sea Lettuce is a nice refreshment if you were suffering from a lack of fresh vegetables from the ship’s galley.

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2042 forest margin

I want to take a closer look at the forest, which is dominated here by old-growth hemlock. At the margins, we find young Sitka spruce, Devil’s Club, willow shrub, blueberry, skunk cabbage. Under the old canopy, the peace is inviting, but there is nothing resembling a path. Fallen trees are everywhere, and the carpet of moss between them is not covering solid ground, but a bed of rotting branches. Hard to see how even bears travel through this, but clearly they do: the blueberry bushes have been stripped of most of their fruit.

2047 moss
Moss and low-growing understory

2049 old stump

It’s not quite impossible to travel through this kind of terrain. One team of bushwhackers reports covering one mile in a two-and-a-half hour trek—about 12 yards a minute!

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