Haines, Alaska is one of the great adventure towns in North America. It is nestled between brackish waters and soaring, snowcapped mountains, and it is located near the very top of the Inside Passage. The area around present-day Haines is called Dtehshuh by the Tlingit peoples, meaning ‘end of the trail.’ The portage for their canoes while trading with the interior, it was the end of the trail used to save twenty miles of paddling around the Chilkat Peninsula. Now inhabited by a mere 1,900 people, Haines is known as the adventure capital of Alaska because of its scenic natural attractions and access to glaciers, mountains, and wildlife.
National Geographic Sea Lion was anchored just off a small dock outside of town when our guests woke up for an earlier than usual breakfast to allow for optimal exploration. The mountains surrounding the small town made for a beautiful Zodiac ride to the dock where we dispersed. Our first guests to depart went for a bold six hour hike up Mount Riley and across the Canadian border. After that, a wide array of activities commenced. Some guests went to the river to take fly fishing lessons, while others went on a scenic bike ride through town before leaving to follow a salmon stream. We offered an easier coastal hike for some guests while others photographed eagles while floating down the river near the Klukwan village. Our most exciting offering was flightseeing over Glacier Bay.
It is always a pleasure to surprise our guests. With such great weather, we were able to cook up a doozy. Upon arrival back to the ship, guests were invited to the sundeck where our hotel staff had set up an outdoor happy hour to allow them to bask in the sunshine and beauty of Haines from the water. Cell phones and cameras were passed around as we all shared stories and photos of our day over drinks. Guests were amazed at the beauty of observing moving glaciers from above. Many never even imagined they might do such a thing. The bicyclers had to stop in their tracks to watch a mother bear and two cubs pass just a few yards in front of them. Don caught a huge pink salmon that pulled him into the stream, causing him to show up to the ship soaking wet and grinning ear to ear.
Haines never disappoints. The passengers of National Geographic Sea Lion enjoyed a feast of Dungeness crabs after cocktail hour, and I have a feeling everyone slept well.