Hoonah to Glacier Bay

We always stop in Hoonah on our way to the Bay – we have made several friends there, and it’s a Tlingit town with a great vibe. We love to check up on the eagle tree – sure enough, there was an eagle sitting on that huge nest up there. It’s much too early to hope for eaglets, but we should hope for eaglet sightings in another month.

We happened to be in town on Memorial Day, and saw a sign about water taxi rides out to the island cemetery. The island anchors part of the harbor breakwater, and I once photographed a lone eagle sitting at the foot of a fresh grave. It was a moving sight, since the Tlingit people are divided into two moities: ravens and eagles. Well, on Memorial Day the cemetery had two different kinds of visitors – a pair of brown bears that spent quite a while out there.

We visited with our talented carver friends, and watched another friend work on her canoe paddle design. It will have her clan and house symbols on it, personalized even more with hints of her beloved dogs. A canoe paddle is very important – if you approach another village with peaceful intentions your raised paddle lets them know who you are, and as you dip your paddle into the water it tells the sea creatures who you are.

While we talked about paddles a raven sat close by, giving us a chance to study his iridescent feathers more closely. The “trickster” is a beautiful bird.

We had great weather to walk around town, and it was fun to watch the local kids splashing in the water… never mind that it’s about 50 degrees.

With promises to return to Hoonah in a few weeks we headed into Glacier Bay National Park, spotting a humpback tail-slapping as a welcome. You can feel the “whump” of the tail’s impact in your chest!

As always, there will be lots of other tales (tails!) to tell about this visit to the bay, but first we spent some time at the headquarters area, walking the forest trail and visiting the newly erected Healing Pole…

…which tells the story of how the Huna Tlingit people used to harvest many foods in the bay…

…and how the Grand Pacific glacier made a rapid advance in the 1750s, filling the entire bay and forcing the Huna Tlingit people out.

The story continues up the pole to show how the US Government and the Park Service took over the bay and made rules excluding the Huna people from their ancestral lands and preventing them from gathering their traditional foods. “Rough seas” eventually settled down and the pole shows the agreement between the Park Service and the Huna Tlingit which resulted in the partnership to create the Tribal House and to work together to restore their traditions. The story continues to evolve, but it seems to be headed in a very positive direction. Although most people think of Glacier Bay for the ice and plentiful wildlife, we value the cultural element equally.

And oh… the lupine! It was blooming all over the place – great swaths of that lovely blue-purple color. The bees were sure happy!

Beach strawberries were in bloom… it’s too early for fruit.

And to cap off our first day, I heard a rustling in the brush and we stood still to see a grouse come strolling out across our path.

Not a bad way to start off an adventure in the bay!

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