Bald Eagles, Bears and Totem Poles – Haines, Alaska
Our final stop in Alaska was Haines, and also our base camp as we explored Southeast Alaska. From Tok we had to meander through the Yukon Territory and a little bit of British Columbia in Canada (and of course U.S. Customs) before getting back to Alaska again.
Haines has been tagged as the Valley of the Eagles due to the congregation of about 3,500 Bald Eagles starting in November when they feast on the late run of Chum salmon. A 48,000 acre sanctuary has been formed by the state for the national bird. But we did not have to wait until November, as we saw the baldies perching on trees by the dozens and just hanging out on the beach. It was quite an awesome sight for the gathering of the white heads.
We were told that Bears hang out at the salmon weir by Chilkoot river. So off we went early in the morning to watch bears catch salmon. We were not disappointed for the three times that we went there, they were there feeding on the running chum salmon.
Walking and driving around Haines we noticed several Totem poles. They signify Alaska’s native legacy. They were carved to perpetuate Tlingit (pronounced Kling-it) cultural practices.
There were lots of hiking and biking opportunities at Haines, but man, the wind and the rain were unrelenting once again. Instead we just checked out museums and historic sites. First we went to Fort William H Seward which was established 106 years ago as a symbol of US Army strength. The fort was decommissioned and is now a historic landmark. Most of the building are now privately owned and local businesses reside there.
We watched the feeding of a Bald Eagle at the American Bald Eagle Foundation. There were also more than 200 specimen of local fish and wildlife. The founder gave an engaging and interesting presentation of wildlife stories.
Next stop was the Sheldon Museum, which houses collections of Native art, gold rush mementos and a display of the answer to the question “Whose Border is it?”
Next stop was the Hammer Museum where an impressive display of 1,800 pounding implements is showcased. Now that’s a lot of hammers!
Due to its quintessential Alaskan look, Haines has also been a favorite of filmmakers. The 1991 Disney movie “White Fang” was filmed in Dalton City as is “Gold Rush Alaska” at Porcupine Creek.
We could tell that the season is winding down as the RV park we stayed in, Haines Hitch up RV park was pretty sparse. We liked it for we had the west section to ourselves. It was a level grass site with full hook ups. We liked it here even if the laundry cost $3.50 per load. What can we say, everything in Alaska is expensive.
We prepped Betsy, and the Honda for our departure from Alaska on a three-day ferry trip through the inside passage to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.