Reflections of Haines

At 23 degrees farenheight, and winds at a steady 15 knots, the temperature at the vicinity of my roadside camp next to the Chilkoot Inlet is roughly 0. The seas are big this afternoon, with swells of around 5 feet, sending waves crashing into the granite boulders of the beach head surf. Every once in a while, a really big one will wreck into shore and a great splash of water explodes into the crisp winter air, highlighted by the dreamy peaks to the north. If a careful eye is surveyed across the channel, one may witness an Orca breaching or a Grey Whale spouting, ever reminding that this is there home too. The water here, always a vivid turquoise, commands respect. Even from the most seasoned vessel bound seafarer, as the water temperature, regardless of time of year, remains a nearconstant 45 degrees. In spring and fall, Brown Bears can often be seen scouring the western shorelines of the Chilkat Inlet or the mouth of the Chilkoot river. A mere 20 miles upstream from town, hundreds of Bald Eagles can be witnessed in the fall. Salmon runs are frequent here, with runs of all 5 species of the best food on the planet occuring at intervals spread throughout the non winter season. Winter here is 7 months and summer 3, with a month each for transitional periods in between. The climate is of the maritime variety with the ecology being regarded as that of a temperate rainforest. A short, steep, and beautiful hike up the Mt Riplinsky Trail exposes all. Giant Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock grace the slopes and valleys, and a walk among them will reveal great ferns and seas of moss covering the forest floor. A scan of the peaks on the other side of the Inlet exposes glaciers and icefalls; the hallmark of high latitude coastal mountains. The people here are as friendly as anyone could ask for and a genuine sense of community prevails. A walk down Main Street will be greeted with smiles and greetings. In Haines, even the cops wave to say hello.

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