From Petersburg, marked in red, we crossed the channel in our inflatable DIBs to a private landing pontoon on Kupreanof Island. From here we hiked into another part of Tongass National Forest to seek out some more of the native flora of the region.
One of the tricky parts about taking this whole expedition was that most landings were, of necessity, wet landings, requiring “wellington” or “mud” boots to negotiate the landing from the DIBs into icy waters and onto rocky shores. I chose to do none of the wet landings as I was being extra cautious of the slippery, wet, rocky shorelines. Why? My travel insurance didn’t cover any problems with my knees since it had been less than 24 months from my latest knee operation. Without cover, medical help in these parts would have been extremely expensive, to say the least. I had other adventures which I shall write about later.
However, as no boots were required for this walk, I chose to join David and experience the forest with him. There was just one slight problem… the tide was well and truly out and the ramp from the landing pontoon to the walkway at the top was exceedingly steep! I took a very deep breath and inched my way a little nervously up the wet, wooden ramp.
At the top, we divested ourselves of our life vests and just left them on the grass in amongst a patch of yellow buttercups. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to trust that they would remain there until our return!
A patch of lovely Forget-me-nots, Myosotis sp., also grew close to the path.
These are not native but were introduced to America from Europe…
Somehow; sometime; by someone.
A forest weed!
Before we left the shoreline and entered the forest shade, we were delighted to find some the bright red berries of Rubus spectabilis, Salmonberry. We just had to try them and indeed they are quite tasty… as well as being a spectacular berry, as its name suggests.
Our first stop was at a small wooden ‘kiosk’ where Caroline showed us the map… that’s an important part of forest walking, just in case you lose your way. Not that that was likely to happen as it was a single file pathway and board walk for most of the way.
I was most impressed that this trail facility had been built by the students in the High School’s construction class; each student has been recognised for their contribution.
And I was further impressed that this project was a collaboration between several sections of the Petersburg community. That, too, was recognised by a plaque.
This is a National Forest and, as such, logging can be undertaken in a controlled way. The trees along this path by the shore were quite young… reforestation in progress.
The path was edged with ferns.
Lysichiton americanum, Cabbage Skunk was also much in evidence.
The large leaves of this plant were used to wrap things in…
long before paper and plastics!
Skunk leaves are not only large, but quite sculptural as well.
This one was close to perfection.
There were more wonderful shapes and textures in the leaves of the understory.
This was a great area to look for fungi. How elegant is this?
Yes. David was down on his knees again for this shot.
Another example of the delightful False Azalea; Menziesia Ferruginea.
David had found one of these on his first walk.
After following the path parallel to the shore, we came to the start of the board walk that would take us along the Kupreanof Trail, up through the old growth forest to a boggy, muskeg plateau on top of the hill. It was a bit of a huffy, puffy walk with a great many steps of uneven height to negotiate, but there was plenty of interest to see along the way.
There were several dead or dying trees along the way. When a tree dies and falls in a forest, it continues to play an important role by creating a light gap in the forest which provides the opportunity for new life. To begin with, here in this damp environment, the fallen trunk is quickly colonised by mosses. Then, as it rots, it becomes a ‘nurse log’ on which the next generation of forest trees will germinate and begin to grow. The forest floor here was littered with fallen limbs and trunks overgrown with moss, giving the place a slightly eerie feeling.
The boardwalk was still single file but at least it was two planks wide.
Further up the hill we came to some lush forest with lots of healthy understory growth.
Moss had certainly taken up residence on this small, dead tree trunk.
This was a beautiful example of Cornus canadensis; Dwarf Dogwood or Bunchberry.
The higher we climbed, the more daylight we began to see.
In this clearing, a brown moss had taken hold on almost every branch of a tall conifer.
This tree, a little further out of the dense forest,
was covered in lichen and a cream coloured, feathery moss.
Up another flight of steps and we had finally arrived at our destination for the afternoon, a plateau of boggy muskeg with quite a different group of plants to enjoy and photograph.
We’ll look at them in the next diary posting.
Jennie and David
All photographs copyright © JT and DY of jtdytravels
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