Our first morning in Alaska was an early one. We got up as soon as we could, ate breakfast, and then wandered out into Ketchikan. Before we had left for the trip, we had decided we wanted to go kayaking, but never were able to make a reservation. However, as soon as we had stepped off the dock, we found the company we had researched (Southeast Exposure), and they still had openings in their kayak tour that morning. We quickly signed up and just minutes later found ourselves on a bus driving north of Ketchikan to where the company docked their equipment. After signing away our lives with emergency contact information and waivers, we boarded the motor coach that would take us to the beginning of our kayaking, in the Tatoosh Islands.
Soon enough we were pulling into our little island, where our guides were waiting. We were outfitted, shown how to operate a kayak, and given the last minute information we needed. Then we were off, kayaking through the salty waves. Despite the forecast, the weather was beautiful. Even the ocean was calm and inviting. We couldn’t help but love every minute we were out on the water. We didn’t see much wildlife except for fish, sea stars, and eagles. But, we saw some fantastic scenery. We couldn’t help but love every minute we were out on the water.
Once we had spent all of our time exploring around the islands, the guides lead us back to our base camp. Along the way we spotted a beautiful eagle stationed above us. We didn’t think much of it because we had seen so many of them already. Suddenly, she dove down for a fish, landing in the water only 20 feet away from us. Then, the eagle started swimming! Earlier in the tour our guides had told us that sometimes an eagle will get a little greedy and go for a fish much larger than it can fly off with. When that happens, the only thing that the eagle can do is swim to shore. Our eagle did just that; while still holding on to the fish with her talons, she stroked her way into the shore with her powerful wings.
Still only 20 feet away, she flapped out her wings, and perched on the rocks with the prize. We maintained our distance but I snapped as many pictures as I possibly could (I ended up with 30+ pictures but these are my favorites). As we watched, the eagle would try to fly off with the fish but either the eagle still had wet wings, or the fish was overly heavy. After a while, the eagle gave up on flying away and started eating. Once the fish was lightened from her snacking, she was able to fly away; taking the food to the two juveniles waiting for her. It was an incredible experience!
After we got back to shore, there was hot chocolate, water, and cookies waiting for us. We all got some time to get to know each other and to talk about the things we saw. Everyone was thrilled from seeing the eagle. After all, it was a once in a lifetime experience for most of us. We highly recommend using this company for your kayaking adventure. The guides were hilarious and informative, the scenery was lovely, and it was a great bargain (especially if you don’t book through the cruise ship).
Instead of going straight back to the cruise ship in the bus, we asked to be dropped off at Totem Bight State Park. This park holds many replicas and some original totem poles from the local Native American clans. They were stunning! Each pole is specifically carved to tell a story or make some sort of statement. Some contained human figures, but most images were that of animals, all representing something. For example, an eagle, shown having a hooked beak and wide wings, is a symbol of peace and friendship.
It was a beautiful area full of trails, and lots to learn. It was also free to all visitors, which is a definite bonus. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we had to catch a bus and get back to the main part of the city. Once we made it back, we only had a short time to take a quick walk through the shops and then get back on the cruise ship.
After eating dinner, we went up to the top floor of the ship. The area we were moving through is usually the area where whales are spotted and we didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity. One perk of this cruise is the naturalist that the company had hired to be a guide, and narrator through the areas of the tour. She was often out on deck with a microphone telling us the names of different landmarks, the history of the area, and interesting facts about the wildlife. We did spot a few whales that night, but the real treat was the rising of a big moon on one side of the ship and the pinkish sunset on the other.