Not to sound like a broken record J…but the fleet woke up today to blue skies and sunshine here on our little dock. The coffee is made and many of us sit on the bow of our yachts or up on the flybridge to enjoy the caffeine kick with the waterfall being a wonderful addition to the senses in front of us. The lay day here is welcome and good news to us all – allowing us the chance to explore the bay a little more in our dinghies, take our legs for a stretch along some trails, and rest our bones in some hot springs.As I sit with a good book, three Anna’s Hummingbirds whiz by and do a few swoops and turns in front of me. These hummingbirds live here year-round and are quite fun to watch! Harlequin ducks and Dark-Eyed Junco’s also surround our fleet as the morning begins to bustle with activity. Judy onAnamCara takes a few photo-ops of myself and a very friendly dog that greets everyone this morning on the dock. Both Judy and I get some sweet puppy kisses as our group grows in number, ready for a little hike led by Greg up to the hot springs and the lake. Cameras ready…off we go!The trail to the springs and lake veers off to the right from my waterfall walk the day before and I am happy to be exploring and stretching my sea legs. The trail is narrow, mostly gravel and with large roots so we make our way slowly to avoid any ankle injuries…which is hard to avoid as the foliage, ferns, and general beauty of the place has your eyes looking everywhere but where you are stepping! Thankfully, we begin to walk on some planks and boardwalk areas over boggy spots. Along the way on one particular plank we gingerly step over some bear scat. This area is host to a large population of bears and I keep my eyes open for any sightings. Captain Brian mentioned earlier that on the way to the hot springs we are sure to pass a bear or two, but as they like to avoid us two-legged creatures they would probably remain elusive.The trail becomes a boardwalk and we take a little detour to the left and scramble over some roots and rocks which is most welcome to my currently unused muscles. Up a ways and then down a-ways – the trail opens to the smell of sulfur and a beautiful natural hot spring which looks out over the waterfall. We all can’t resist putting our hands in the spring and exclaiming in surprise just how hot these natural springs are. Many have plans to return later in the day and evening to partake in some of the relaxation. We backtrack to the main trail and continue straight ahead on this amazing boardwalk maintained by the community here. We follow the sound of the waterfall to our left and views of dense forest to our right. While the trail is only about a 15-minute walk in total, we all take our time as we take in our surroundings. The boardwalk eventually ends into a small gravel trail with glimpses off to the left of a lake. To the right is a small patch of mud…and four large bear prints. Everyone takes a moment to take their photos, some using their hands as a measure of just how large this bear must be. We continue on and come out into a small rocky beach area with an impressive alpine lake before us. It is flat calm and mirrors the huge mountains and hanging glaciers above for the supreme jaw-dropping experience. There is a small nook that houses several canoes from the community and I can only imagine how peaceful days must be here – floating along the lake under the majestic mountains and Alaskan sky.

On our way here we took a small detour on the boardwalk to a cabin that had a “for sale” sign. The cedar cabin was 500 ft. with a loft bed. Looking through the windows it was the most basic of dwellings but as I sat here at this alpine lake in this gorgeous, tranquil part of the world my mind began to run figures through my head: how much down, how much per month, how I needed to find better cell coverage out here for emergencies, how I would need to become a pilot and have my own sea plane for transportation…stop laughing, I know it sounds funny. But in my head there was serious consideration going on for what I would have to do to buy this cabin and never leave. I have not had cell phone service since arriving in Ketchikan and the separation from the outside world has been most welcome.  I am not absent-mindedly surfing Facebook and I have no clue what is happening with politics and the election right now. And this is a GOOD THING. We all need an experience like this – to escape a bit of our current world and get lost in the moment. How often do we, as a collective society, ever just stop and sit – without worrying about getting back to the house, or returning to our office, or whatever “important” task is waiting to monopolize our time.

This portion of the blog/trip was about me, an Administrative Assistant at NW Explorations who is this great charter company who sent me on this life-altering trip, getting to experience first-hand what our clients experience. I imagined learning a bit more about boating (I never tied a line before this trip), seeing new places I could stick a pin in on my world map at home, and of course – getting to know clients I had only known through emails setting up their trip. I would have a better taste of the experience and thus, a better understanding when I helped with the logistics and explanations of destinations to our clients.  It has actually become something so much more personal. When you sit on the bow of a yacht in the early morning in remote Alaska, or sit on the flybridge crossing a large strait with only mountains and the sea surrounding you – your perspective changes. You see just how small our problems are, how trivial our arguments are, how silly our worries can be. It is the simple act of knowing oneself, shedding all assumptions about people and truly listening to one another. What you do in the “real world” doesn’t exist here, it doesn’t color who you are in relation to everyone else. We are all here – as individuals – experiencing something that humbles each and every one of us. It creates lasting memories…the first sight of a humpback or bear sears into your memory better than any photograph. In the silent moments, in the grandeur of nature…you find yourself here in Alaska. The pace of life is different and we all know that what we are experiencing together is something unique. And so, we all become a floating family – sharing stories, playfully jesting with one another (Noel – you are too quick on the quips for me!), inviting each other over for cocktails or dinner, sharing childhood memories – it is an experience that is hard to put into words. You have this amazing experience personally, uniquely – yet also build something with people you have never met before but quickly become a part of this chapter in your life.

In wonderment…Christina on Deception signing off.

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