On the fifth day of our Inside Passage cruise, we hiked through ferns and downed trees in a temperate rainforest (above photo) and kayaked in a fjord.
As we went ashore for the hike, the calm, dark water emphasized undulating ripples with bright reflections. We were anchored in Yes Bay, where the ocean’s wave action is flattened by the islands and fjords of the Inside Passage.
The stern of the ship has a platform to load, launch, and receive kayaks. Grooves in the platform hold each kayak steady so the kayak doesn’t rock or move as you get in and out.
Our boat landed at a fishing lodge. We walked through the lodge past barking “bear” dogs to a path into the rainforest. The adjacent rainforest has bears, so they have big “bear” dogs that bark loudly when they see bears. The “bear” dogs run loose, and we learned that they bark at people too. Our guides told us to ignore the big dogs running out to bark at us. The second time walking calmly past the big, barking dogs was easier than the first time.
The devil’s club is a common plant of the Alaska rainforest. Our guides cautioned us to take care because “the plant is covered with brittle yellow spines that break off easily if the plants are handled or disturbed”. Built-in protection against animals, like acacia trees in Africa.
Skunk cabbage is a rainforest plant that relies on odor for protection, rather than thorns like the devil’s club. This hole in the ground used to hold a skunk cabbage plant whose roots got dug up and eaten by a bear. Now we know why the devil’s club is more common in the rainforest than skunk cabbage!
In the afternoon we went kayaking. This time I was in front, which is much easier than being in the rear. The rear person steers the kayak by pushing on foot pedals that turn the rudder. Paddling alternately on the left and right, it’s tough to keep the kayak going straight, because paddling makes your body turn, making your feet push harder on one pedal, so the kayak tends to turn back and forth as you stroke. It takes a bit to get the hang of all this, and my kayak mate Jack did fine.
Kayaking is fun. Like skiing or sailing, you move silently through pretty surroundings — a great feeling. The wind picked up in the afternoon so the water’s no longer smooth. You have to be aware of which direction the wind is blowing, so it’s good to gauge the time and effort to return to the ship.