Thursday, June 2, 2016

Alaska's Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

We were the first ones on the bus that would transport us to our morning float trip through Alaska's Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Once the cruise ship passengers arrived from Skagway,  the bus would drive us along Haines Highway as our guide filled us in on the area and the history of the river and the preserve until we arrived at the put-in spot. We signed up for the float through Chilkat Guides and they provided the bus transportation, life jackets and rubber boots - and on this unseasonably cold day in Alaska -in August - they would provide other necessities such as gloves and hats. The head guide said he wasn't having hypothermia on his watch!





The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is a state park and national wildlife refuge that protects the world's largest concentration of bald eagles. It consists of river bottom land from 3 rivers - the Chilkat, Kleheni and Tsirku. Five species of salmon spawn in these rivers and their carcasses provide large amounts of food for the bald eagles. We were going floating here to see if we could see any eagles - or other wildlife.





After instruction from the guides, we boarded our non-motorized rafts and our guide, Kristen, started rowing us down the river. The raft had two sections for passengers and Kristen sat in the middle with her oars. 











We did alot of cool things in Alaska but I think the Eagle float was my favorite (though it's tough to choose between this and kayaking with whales)Even though the day was cold and cloudy, the scenery was phenomenal. There were low lying clouds and mountain views around every curve. And the river itself was so unique - the river is filled with glacial silt and is therefore, a cloudy gray color. If you put your hand under the water, or say, your sunglasses, you couldn't see them. No transparency at all. It almost looked like gray marble - but it was water. 










We weren't floating long when we came upon a few bald eagles. Just sitting on a log on the river waiting to feed.(We learned that eagles are scavengers - and a bit lazy. They will eat leftovers and wait for food to come to them rather than hunt) Truly a wow moment. And on the riverbank on the other side was a mama wolf and her cubs. (they were a bit further away and a little harder to see) Really. Floating on a river in Alaska and seeing eagles and wolves - just too much!






There was a very shallow spot in the river and we had to get out of the raft and drag it along to deeper water and get back in. After that, we came upon a native Alaskan village with a salmon smokehouse, houses and some tribal buildings. 











Just like that it was time to get out of the raft and our float trip was over. Lunch was waiting on us - a picnic lunch which I remember as delicious - and we talked with some of the other travelers and the guides to share experiences. We hopped back on the bus for our ride back to Haines. 


I hesitated to post this experience on the blog as I knew the quality of the photographs was less than stellar. I didn't trust myself to use my camera - even though this was a float, and not whitewater, trip so I took the photos with a waterproof, disposable camera that uses real film. (I have dropped cameras in water before) So these were shot old school style - and are quite grainy though they do give off a moody quality. But the experience far outweighed the photo quality - so I'm going with it!



This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections En Route and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond!











26 comments:

  1. Real film - I'm amazed you can still buy real film cameras. We went to Alaska last year and spent a few days in Haines. There were no eagles at Chilkat, it was the wrong time of year, but we had seen so many by the time we got to Haines it wasn't really an issue. Looks like you enjoyed the area as much as we did.

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    1. I really enjoyed the Haines area - it was my favorite part of Alaska. I didn't see any bald eagles around Haines - though I don't quite have the "eagle eye" that my husband does - he's much better at spotting wildlife. Thanks for swinging by, Lyn!

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  2. Wow, what a beautiful place to visit and experience the float. The bald eagle is just gorgeous! I'm with Lyn - I didn't know you could still buy real film (and get it developed!). We've all become so digital, haven't we? :)

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    1. I usually buy a disposable camera every summer to take on the lake we live on as once again, I'm klutzy with my camera around water. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find somewhere to develop the film though! Thanks Lyndall - and thanks for visiting!

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  3. That is an amazing adventure and I would love to do it. I would have been a little hesitant to take my camera in the raft also! The photos really show how the ride was.

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    1. It was such a fun adventure! And if I were to do it again, I still wouldn't bring my camera along - even though I didn't drop the disposable in the water I think the odds are stacked that it would happen to me sometime :) Thanks for visiting, Jan!

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  4. The photos are lovely and capture the essence of your float trip. Enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing it at #WeekendWanderlust

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    1. Thank you - and thanks for visiting!

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  5. It is a beautiful spot. As is the bald eagle. The experience sounds great.

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    1. Thanks Donna - and thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Wow! What an experience! It would be awesome to visit Alaska. I have had the blessing of seeing tons of bald eagles at the same time. My aunt's ex-husband took us many years ago to a lake in Idaho were the bald eagles hang out. There were like 50 around the trees. it was an incredible sight.

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    1. Wow - 50 in the trees! The most we saw were about 4 at a time on each side of the river. And we saw a few in Sitka but they weren't bald eagles - golden eagles instead. Thanks for visiting, Ruth!

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  7. WOW! Alaska is such a beautiful place. I swear there isn't a bad view in the house but you got some pretty amazing shots of the eagles.

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    1. Thanks! And you're right, there isn't a bad view in the house. We visited the Inside Passage and now I want to go to Denali and Anchorage.

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  8. Looks amazing. The scenery and eagles go together nicely! :) Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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    1. Thanks - and thanks for hosting the link-up!

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  9. It looks very cold but worth it to see bald eagles in their habitat.

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    1. It was cold - especially for those of us from warmer climates - but definitely worth it. I think it ranks as one of my favorite things I've done. Thanks for stopping by, Rhonda!

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  10. I'm glad you decided to press on with the post despite the lack of digital photos Jill. I think your old school shots are great! I never would have guessed they were film. Floating down a river is so much fun, even in the cold!

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    1. Thanks Jim! I was disappointed with the photos after they were developed and I scanned them but they do still document the trip. And I would float down a river everyday if I could!

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  11. Isn't Alaska a great place to visit? We've been there last summer and, like you, went to see the Bald Eagle Preserve. It was a great experience. Thank you for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. Alaska was a great experience - so much to see and do that is really unique especially from where I live. Thanks for visiting!

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  12. Very cool trip, to a place I'd never heard of. I would really enjoy that, but like you I would have a hard time picking it as my favorite if I had also kayaked with whales.

    You were smart to use a disposable camera, btw. We sometimes do the same when we are going to be in a wet environment like that. Glad you shared it on the blog too. Even with a less-than-stellar camera you still got some great photos. I especially like your shots of the bald eagle.

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    1. Thanks Linda - and thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  13. I'd love to visit Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve as Bold Eagles are so fascinating. Any kind of eagle actually. We are in Scotland at the moment trying to find Golden Eagles ... www.travelbug.co @greyworldnomads

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    1. I wish you luck at seeing the goldens! Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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