With only 20 miles to cover today, we had a late start and were able to continue to enjoy the beauty of Red Bluff Bay. The sun rose on another clear, blue-sky day. The reflections of the mountains in the calm water were just stunning. Don from Thea engaged in an early morning fishing trip, only to find a muddy bottom, with no halibut. Arctic Star’s Captain, Chris, was treated to a close encounter with a juvenal brown bear; a mere 50 feet from his early morning kayak trip!
We arrived in Baranof Warm Springs in the early afternoon and settled amongst the fishing vessels on the dock. Rafting at the dock in a 2 by 2 formation, we were lucky enough to fill the remaining spaces at the dock next to the water fall. The Baranof River falls were rushing into the bay and creating quite the current to test our crews docking abilities. I am proud to report that all of our Captains passed with flying colors! After a moment of reflection, (and lunch), most sped off to explore their new surroundings.
Warm Springs is a small smattering of houses and buildings all connected by boardwalks. Back in its heyday apparently there were 200 people who lived here and worked the sawmill. You wouldn’t think it today based on the quiet little area. The boardwalk trail meandered through a boggy forest with skunk cabbage, salmon berry, spruce and alder. We walked along the turquoise, glacial meltwater that makes up the Baranof river until we found the large lake that fed the stream. The small beach was in the direct sun and it almost felt like swimming weather, until we dipped our toes into the icy water.
Our crews opted for the hot soak rather than the cold plunge today. The hot springs pools have been built up right alongside the rushing river. The pools blend in so well with the surroundings that at first glance it seems like they are a natural feature. A couple of commercial fishing boats and their crew were enjoying a night off in the springs. We happily joined them for a soak and had a lively conversation about their work.
One of the great things about this location is that you either have the option of taking a soak in the communal pools or in a private bath house on the dock. There are three private baths, all with great views of the falls and with both a cold and hot tap to get the temperature just perfect. We all spent a beautiful, leisurely afternoon and evening exploring the area, soaking in the tubs and enjoying the fabulous scenery.
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