The waters around Haines, our starting point for this 3 day expedition are part of the famed inside passage. The northern most section and maybe the most beautiful part of the inside passage is a fjord, a glacially carved valley filled in with sea water as the ice sheet retreated thousands of years ago. In excess of 2000 feet deep the Lynn Fjord is the longest in North America and runs about 90 miles from The capital city of Juneau to the famed goldrush town of Skagway. Home to an immense amount of marine life, this fjord has significant populations of marine life including both permanent and transient groups of Humpback and Killer Whales. Endangered Stellar Sea Lions are common as are a number of other seal and smaller whale species. Maybe most importantly of all the Lynn Fjord still has significant runs of all 5 species of salmon, the life blood not only to marine life but to all the creatures living in this section of the Tongass National Forest.
The coastal temperate rain forest which runs along the coast of the Lynn Fjord and for that matter the entire southern coast of alaska is part of the largest expanse of protected wilderness in the world. This forest comprised of old growth spruce and hemlock primarily, along with a lush green forest floor of mosses, devil’s club and a variety of other small plant species, starts at the sea. This forest is home to an enormous number of species including brown and black bear, wolves, moose and Sitka black tail deer, and as you start to move away from the coast into the mountains we see mountain goats and wolverine enter the picture.
As you enter the northern most leg of the inside passage you will arrive at a small town of around 2200 brave souls, Haines, Alaska. A small mostly fishing town, Haines has recently become known as the adventure capital of Alaska do to its proximity to towering mountains, vast expanses of ocean and huge amounts of wilderness with relatively few people. We make Haines our home and our sea kayak expedition will both start and end in our backyard.
Pre-trip meeting with your guide the night before we depart.
We meet in the morning to check our gear, discuss the weather and make our plan for the next 3 days of sea kayaking and exploring. After we go over a short safety briefing we will finish stowing our gear and shove off into the fjord that surrounds Haines. Before we venture too far we will discuss paddling techniques and our plan for traveling as a group safely on the water, then once everyone is comfortable, off we go in the direction of our first camp. This first morning of paddling will be about getting our rhythm so we can stop frequently to adjust our boats or just stretch our legs and have a snack. By mid afternoon we are starting to think about our first camp and by late afternoon we are pulling in and scouting out a nice dry bench above the high tide line. Welcome to the Tongass National Forest our nations largest at 16.7 million acres.
Waking at a respectful time we can relax with a hearty breakfast and take some time to scan the water for spouts from Humpback or Killer whales who cruise these waters, some of the deepest in south east alaska. As we break camp and load our boats we can talk a bit more about paddling technique, tweaking things just slightly can take some of the work load off of tired muscles. Hugging the shoreline or deciding cross the fjord we have plenty of options depending on our weather and everyones comfort level but no matter what keep an eye out for Stellar Sealions. Endangered as a species but common here in theses waters, these marine mammals are curious and will pop up behind you some times just a few feet away to check us out. Stopping again for lunch and some impromptu beach combing we can cruise the beaches looking for treasures or venture into the coastal temperate rain forest of the Tongass. Climbing back in our boats we will discuss where we want to camp for night number 2 and then come up with a plan for our afternoon of paddling. Choosing our second campsite with the tides in mind, which can swing 20 feet or more form low to high tide, we will pitch our tents and secure our boats in some nice beach grass and have a fire on the sand below our camp.
Our final morning over coffee or tea and of course another delicious breakfast has us contemplating our arrival back in civilization. On this day we can choose to stay in camp exploring the area around it and maybe catching a glimpse of a brown bear, from a safe distance of course, while we wait for a water taxi to retrieve us and take us to Haines. If the weather seems a little dicey we can hike to an airstrip and catch a quick flight aboard a bush plane back to Haines international airport or if everyone feels fresh and the weather is looking good we will pack our things, climb into our sea kayaks and finish our journey back to Haines the way we started. No matter how we arrive we will be back in Haines and off to a well deserved and needed shower.
Food while in the field
Group camping gear
Tents, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc.
Kayak, paddle, PFD, safety gear
Professional guide service
Lodging while not in the field
Food while not in the field
Gratuity for guide(s)