Leaving Big Frypan Bay was a serene departure. It’s always a beautiful sight to watch the wake ripple across the smooth waters and listen for the scurrying critters, catching them poking their heads out to assess the scene. Harbor seals and mink tucked into the shorelines and kept their distance as their curiosities kept them engaged enough for us to say hello.
As the tides shift and the waters are calm, harbor seals are one of the most interesting critters to observe. Eating predominantly fish, harbor seals will also prey on squid, shrimp, and hidden prey such as octopus. One of the most tell-tale signs of being in the presence of a harbor seal versus the visiting California and Stellar sea lions, is the quiet grace that a harbor seal possesses poking their heads out from below the surface of the water. If you are ever in question as to if you are looking at a harbor seal or a sea lion, a sea lion will take a large auditory exhale as soon as it breaks the water and has a coat that varies from a light to a dark brown. A harbor seal’s speckled grey, white, black, and sometimes light brown coats, will blend the animals into the ocean’s ripples with ease.
Making our way north, we took a short cut through Addenbroke Island’s narrows. Due to the new moon’s lower low spring tides, the shorelines were full of exposed marine creatures. From hundreds of purple Ochre Sea stars to speckled Leather stars, this route made for a scenic cruise worth throttling back for.
Touching down in Codville Lagoon, the fleet prepared lunch and rested a bit before our trek up to a forested lake. Codville Lagoon is a protected park that was established in 1965 and is an incredibly significant site for the Heiltsuk First Nations community. Thus, this park is encouraged to be respected as the heritage site that it is.
The Heiltsuk Territory encompasses 16,658 square kilometers of land, and these boundaries are defined by six different tribal groups. The Heiltsuk oral tradition states that their ancestors were set down by the Creator in various areas of the territory, and now the lands are best known as the Central Coast of British Columbia. A study in the 1960’s and 1970’s within the Heiltsuk Village site of Namu uncovered ancient remains calculating the history of the Heiltsuk First Nations to go as far back as 12,000 years.
As the fleet readied to explore Sagar Lake, we were greeted by a trail sign that let us know the creek we were walking along was home to migrating Western Toads. These toads were so camouflaged into their environment that it was crucial to watch our steps and strictly stay on the trails. With the way they so perfectly matched the mosses and creek vegetation, we didn’t even notice their presence until our eyes caught their movements along the trail.
After a rewarding half mile, we walked out of the forest and into a clearing that took us all by surprise. The lake was surrounded by sheer granite covered by dark and lime greens that popped against the light grey skies. Sagar Lake is a 3-mile lake that is fed by higher alpine snow melt and collected rainwater, gently feeding the creek that is home to our new migrating Western Toad friends. Taken aback by the Lake’s golden sands and darkly colored water, we enjoyed bouncing hypotheses off each other trying to figure out just how these things came to be.
Observing more closely, the sand consisted of eroded granite, which is a mixture of quartz, feldspar and garnet that we think has earned its golden color by being lightly stained from years of the darkly colored lake water levels rising and falling with the seasons. The lake holds this dark color by being a collection of water run off that takes with it the tannins dyes from decomposing organic material down the mountainsides. With as dense as these forests are and the extent of fallen trees, such as the prominent red cedars that were historically used for their red dyes, this lake is being fed by very color rich, and very nutrient dense, waters.
Making our way back down to our vessels, we were greeted again by our toad friends and spent more time exploring the vegetation along our trail. What caught all our attention the most were the bright pink Bog Laurels that popped vividly against the many greens that call this forest home. Once back on our boats, crews got into their dinghies and dropped crab pots, explored the rest of the cove, and started preparing dinners for the night. The visiting sun made for a warm evening, and we were all able to wind down with ease, looking forward to tomorrow’s adventures.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org