2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 10 – Watson Cove – Echo Bay | NW Explorations

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2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 10 – Watson Cove – Echo Bay

With the fleet waking for a 9am departure, taking in the last bit of our environment was an incredible way to spend the morning. Once we picked up our anchors, we rounded the corner to Lacey Falls. The granite was so incredibly smooth that the falling water draped across the rock like lace. We are headed to Echo Bay today but took couldn’t help taking a slight detour to spend some time observing the stunning sight.

Ecologists often use the wear and tear of waterfalls to indicate shifts in ecosystem health. They can do this by simply observing the flux in volumes a waterfall outputs throughout the seasons. With cascading benefits, no pun intended, a vast downflow of water feeds the soils and ensures a moist environment. The vegetation utilizing the run-off tend to take off with growth and soil health increases dramatically. As the river beds containing the waters soak the roots of lining trees and brush, their rapid growth helps mitigate soil erosion and becomes and incredibly important factor in soil stabilization.

Moving into the falls we were greeted by waterfowl that were taking advantage of the gathering fish at the bottom of the falls due to what we think is the highly oxygenated zone from the freshwater. Each boat poked their nose into the cove of Lacey Falls, and we were able to capture some awesome pictures of each crew celebrating their experiences. Once we turned off and began our trek to Echo Bay, reentering Tribune channel made for a smooth crossing.

Greeted by Coco and Luna, the marina’s dock dogs, turning into Echo Bay was incredibly inviting! The scattered house boats were brightly colored and with calm waters they reflected off the ocean decoratively. Echo Bay had been utilized by First Nations for thousands of years, with a stunning shell midden presenting bright white sands of crushed shell along the edges of the bay. In 2020 the Kwiḵwa̱sut’inux̱w Haxwa’mis First Nation purchased back this land as it resides in the heart of their traditional territory. The Marina is a fifteen-minute boat ride from their main village of G̱wa’yasda̱ms and is surrounded by ancient villages by the Kwak̓wala name Ḵ̓wax̱wa̱lawadi, as these village sites had offered communities a major source for clams.

With Hemlocks and spruces making for stark contrasts in the environment with their vivid new growth, it was a perfect time to teach a bit about the variations in coastal tree communities. Taking a closer look at the characteristics of the needles can offer you all the information you need to know when identifying. Hemlocks have needles sparsely attached directly to the stem, while spruce needles are very sharp and abundant, with very soft and vibrant new growth. With just that information, it’s possible to differentiate the identities of the two major species in this picture.

Here in Echo Bay lies the small and tucked away, Proctor Bay, where Billy Proctor himself resides and manages his collection of native artifacts, bottles, fishing gear, and much much more. Billy has made his home into a museum, displaying local findings that he’s either come across himself or have floated into the bay with the changing tides. Author and rain coast explorer, Billy was born in 1934 and has spent his entire life here in Echo Bay’s remote coastal community.

He teaches visiting travelers all about his findings and his unique path into the fishing community, having learned to jig a rod before he could even read. Billy takes donations and the proceeds that he receives to pay some of the wages at the Scott Cove salmon hatchery. With being so intimately in touch with the salmon populations since he was a young boy, Billy watched the populations dwindle and has since been actively involved in re-stocking and rehabilitating local streams where salmon have disappeared.

Throughout our day we found that the reviews were true, Echo Bay offers lovely trails and stunning vantage points. As the fleet stretched their legs and explored the forests in every which-way, we were greeted by our favorite dock dogs, Coco and Luna around every corner. They made a point in making sure they were both very aware of our where abouts, checking in on our vessels quite often. With the fleet sharing two docks, it’s always a great time conversing with each other as we are tied up, feeling a bit like a floating neighborhood.

 

P.S. Is Alaska on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Mother Goose AK Flotilla. charters@nwexplorations.com 

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