Dense fog shrouded the mountains of Baranof Island as we anchored in Hanus Bay to embark on our morning hikes. We broke into small groups to explore the rainforest trails of Lake Eva at our own pace. An inland lake on the east side of Baranof Island, a small river descends from the lake to the sea close to our anchorage. The salmon were running, and we spotted them occasionally jumping out of the water at the mouth and further up the river. We wandered over narrow bridges and across quiet estuaries, watched fishermen cast their lines and haul in their salmon catch, and found fresh (but good news, not steaming!) bear scat along the trail. Having soaked up the expertise of our naturalists this week, we were able to identify a number of species on our own–from devil’s club to monkshood to coral root to paintbrushes. We inspected nursery logs for familiar fungi and lichen. As we hiked up the slope, we spotted bald eagles soaring amid the treetops.

Departing the bay, we cruised through Peril Strait. We scouted for wildlife both ashore and in the water. We saw several humpbacks in the distance during dinner before entering the narrow passage. Enjoying cocktails, we navigated through Sergius Narrows at slack tide.

It’s been a celebratory and bittersweet day as our adventures in Alaska come to a close. We couldn’t help but imagine fairy tiaras as we came across patches of Tiarella trifoliata, and we felt the ooze of Adam’s enthusiasm for whales as some humpbacks cruised by during his orca presentation. Witnessing downed trees in the rainforest, we thought back to Tony’s glacier presentation and of the thin soil common to the region that resulted when glaciers scraped across rock at the end of the last Ice Age. We saw the tip of the iceberg of Rachel’s oceanic expertise as she shared her knowledge of the five species of salmon found in North America while overlooking the salmon run. We leave our voyage grateful not only for the spectacular scenery and experiences alongside family and friends, but also for the knowledgeable and passionate staff who brought our voyage to life.