Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Hike at Baranof Warm Springs

July 6-7
Baranof Warm Springs

Heading for Sitka, on the west coast of Baranof Island, the decision is always the same: “Do we run the 110 miles around the north end of the island, our familiar, sheltered route through Peril Strait? or is this the year to cruise the 130 miles around the south end in outside waters?” The marine weather forecast made the decision for us, again. Travel the inside, protected waters.

We raised the anchor at 0600 and crossed into North Chatham Strait - destination Baranof Warm Springs. When we arrived in the bay, three and a half hours later, we found room at the dock just long enough for Rhapsody. It’s good the Capt is skilled ‘cuz there wasn’t much extra water or space to maneuver in (low tide and the shore side of the dock). 

The unexpected day of sunshine prompted an afternoon hike, uphill to the hot spring pools and then on to Baranof Lake. My new knee easily handled climbing the trail, scrambling up hillsides and descending again without complaint. Hooray!

We began the hike with a photo shoot at the bottom of the waterfall.

Just imagine carrying groceries and other supplies UP, and trash and stuff DOWN this staircase

Portions of the trail are comfortable planked boardwalks and steps...

...while other sections are dirt, gravel, rock and root.

The boardwalk trail crossed boggy meadows and plant-filled ravines.

It bordered several  hidden grottos.

We scrambled up his steep side trail. It leads to hot springs pools at the top of the  waterfall cascade.

Piles of clothing signal that the pools are occupied.

Just imagine a soak in this scenic spot, alongside a river at the top of a waterfall.

Parts of the trail looked more random and subject to instant revision.

We ended our hike at Lake Baranof, but the trail continued on.
Baranof Warm Springs is such a special destination. We look forward to a visit or two every year. Sometimes the bay is full, crowded with seine boats and the lively energy of their crews. At other times it is empty and peaceful. This was a quiet trip, a time to relax and hike as well as enjoy the company of a handful of trollers, boaters and local cabin owners. 

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