After an evening that offered a surprise treat of Northern Lights (a solar wind phenomenon), there was an extra buzz on board for our final day of operations. Cruising the waters around Chichagof Island, we anchored in Rodman Bay after breakfast. It was proving to be another spectacular weather day with clearing fog and more blue skies.

The morning’s activities consisted of hikes of varying abilities ashore, kayaking and standup paddleboarding, or a Zodiac ride. The salmon were running up the streams, and we got to see the life cycle complete as those that spawned returned to the sea for the benefit of other animals. The biodiversity of Southeast Alaska is amazing.

There was a bushwhack hike for the brave. It was full of banana slugs, devil’s club, and downhill mudslides. Returning from the hike, the trail was visible on the bushwhackers’ rain gear, which was streaked with mud. Smiles were on everyone’s faces.

Shorter hikes moved from the vast and open intertidal zone into the temperate rainforest, where moss-covered forest floors revealed old growth stumps from the forest’s past.

Rodman Bay was a logging dump site where loggers staged timber ready to bring to the processing mills. There are remains of the infrastructure and industry dotted along the shore and an old logging road within the forest. With the large tidal swing, we needed to plan our operations for before lunch.

Upon completion of the day’s ops, we sailed on to get closer to our destination of Sitka and to time the slack tide of Sergius Narrows. We enjoyed Dall’s porpoises riding the bow wake on approach to the Narrows, as well as an indescribable account of a humpback whale cow teaching her calf how to breach. The spectacle lasted at least 45 minutes, and no one could tear their eyes away. Applause was given to the whales and to the captain for ending our trip with such a magical experience.