Alaska Flotilla: Leg 3, Day 5 – Swanson Harbor to William Henry Bay | NW Explorations


Alaska Flotilla: Leg 3, Day 5 – Swanson Harbor to William Henry Bay

The morning started with another hike to find anything of interest on land. The cow-parsnips covered the forest’s edge near the shore making an impenetrable, photo-toxic wall that deterred us from exploring inland further, however there was still plenty around. Small campfire rings were found next to the high-water tide line; evidence of those who came before us who knew how to make the best of a cool, breezy evening. The First Nations have a saying that “when the tide is out, the table is set.”  Among the plethora of bivalves and seaweeds grew single delights, Jeffery’s shooting stars, purple blossoming beach peas, chocolate lilies, and western hemlock-parsley, which has a stalk that smells aromatic with hints of lemon, best prepared with a filet of salmon like the Aleuts in the outer islands of the Archipelago. Once you learn what to look for, it would be very hard to go hungry.

One of the trip’s favorites must be beach asparagus. A clever way to spice up an evening salad with dinner. It has a great crunchy texture and the sea flavors the greens with a hint of salt, definitely recommended! The addition of goose tongue that grew abundantly would work well, too.

The anchorage in William Henry Bay was very peaceful. Patos anchored the closest to shore, a beach of cobble, gravel, and unsorted glacial till wrapping around the bay’s terminus like a crescent moon on a cool summer’s twilight. Aboard Patos, Eric whipped up some mean steak fajitas as the trip draws closer to the end. Provisioning presents a challenge on any trip and they offered up some succulent meats, warm tortillas, salsa, guac, sour cream, and traditional Mexican cheese for the crew of Deception. Muchas gracias, amigos!

As the sun set, jagged peaks capped with snow were lit by the casting rays of the evening, setting the scene for another beautiful day in SE Alaska where the weather is docile this time of year. The light breeze kept the bugs at bay, the gentle swell rocks the boats like a child in a cradle, and everything seems right in the world. There are far worse things in the world than cruising these elegant waters of great fjords, generous friends, and good weather!

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