2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 5, Day 2 Appleton Cove to Warm Springs Bay | NW Explorations
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2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 5, Day 2 Appleton Cove to Warm Springs Bay

We woke to a beautiful clear morning and a leisurely departure at 8:00 a.m. Our travels today will take us through the end of Peril Strait, south, hugging the east coast of Baranof Island through Chatham Strait to Warm Springs Bay. The conditions call for minimal winds and calm seas.

This coast has been called the Waterfall Coast and offers spectacular attractions of waterfalls that cascade down from the towering snow-capped mountains running parallel to the coastline. We stopped into Waterfall Cove to enjoy a photo opportunity at Kasnyku Falls which tumbles down from the mile long Kasnyku Lake located 500 feet above us. It is a breath-taking sight, and the yachts are dwarfed as they cruise closer for a photograph.

Light grey rocks worn smooth by crashing waves are covered by a thick layer of bright green moss where small spruce trees cling to the thin soil. Golden colored fucus algae forms a skirt along the waterline at lower tides to create a colorful edge where the waterfall meets the bay. An elegant bald eagle is perched in the trees looking down on our curious parade.

Shortly after leaving Waterfall Cove, Pamelican reported Dall’s porpoise jumping in their bow wave! This is a real treat for any boater. These are very energetic dolphins that create a “rooster tail” as they surface and race towards your boat. They are capable of speeds up to 35 miles per hour and when they arrive, they weave back and forth across the bow as they dart and zigzag effortlessly through the water, surfacing for a moment to exhale and inhale as they continue playing.

About 3 miles further along Chatham Strait we entered Warm Springs Bay and immediately notice the white waterfall 2 miles in at the head of bay.  It looks small from this distance but as we approach the head of the bay, massive volumes of water rush over the 40-foot cliff and churn into white water and mist as it crashes into the head of the bay. A small seasonal community is built along a boardwalk that parallels the shore.

Immediately after rafting and anchoring, kayaks are unloaded and a large group of us paddle in to get a closer look at the falls. As we approach the falls the water is choppy, and a mist-filled wind blows offshore as we are pushed away from the falls by the sheer volume of water spilling over the cliff from Baranof Lake above. A few of us beached the kayaks to walk down the boardwalk for a closer look at the falls. The wind had picked up a bit so the return paddle to the boats was a bit more challenging, but everyone rose to the challenge with smiles and confidence.

The crew on Sea Stock chose to soak in the hot tubs in the public bath house on the board walk. They waved to us in our kayaks below. There are also natural hot springs further up the trail located directly beside the top of the roaring waterfall, but it was getting late and that would be a better choice in the daylight.

By the time we returned to the boats, dinner was prepared, and everyone settled in for a calm night’s rest. Tomorrow is a lay day so there will be plenty of opportunities for a hike to the lake, more paddling, dinghy explorations, hot springs, and hot tub soaking.

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