Day Trip to Haines 7/21/2007
Originally we were going to take the trailer to Haines and then the ferry to Skagway. Our plans changed when we heard that the drive out of Skagway was extremely steep and hard on vehicles. So we decided to take a day trip to Haines and leave our trailer at Whitehorse where we were camping. It is 250 miles from Whitehorse to Haines. The drive is noted for its grand views of glaciated mountains and the variety of its scenery—from coastal forests to alpine tundra.
It was cloudy and 42 degrees when we left at 6:15 a.m. The rain started shortly after we left, but we remained optimistic as we could see just a little blue sky. It was a pretty drive, but would have been beautiful if we could have seen all of the mountains surrounding us. Occasionally we could see the peak of a mountain through the intense cloud cover.
On the drive into Haines you pass through the Bald Eagle Preserve. We knew that in October more than 3,000 eagles come to Haines where some of the Chilkat River remains ice-free and the eagles can feed on the salmon. Even though it was only July we figured we would still see quite a few eagles in the area. The literature we read said that sometimes their nests were as big as a pick up truck. Well guess how many bald eagles we saw in the Bald Eagle Preserve? Three, yes only three. We stopped at pull outs, looked through our binoculars, scoured the trees for any sign of an eagle. We saw a couple of nests that we assumed were eagle's nests. Maybe they don't like the rain????
Heather Lende had written a book about Haines, "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name". We had been reading this book for the last week and found Haines to be the beautiful little community Heather had described. It is one of the few communities that had a strong influence of the native Indians. The Chilkat State Park located on the bay was absolutely gorgeous. It had very wooded camping sites-- many on the water. Even though it rained the entire day, we walked around town and drove around the waterfront. We saw two seals swimming in the harbor. We brought Aggie with us so we did not have to worry about getting back for her. She is always content to ride in the truck and get out and sniff out new places. We had lunch at the Chilkat Restaurant and Bakery—great halibut fish and chips. Unfortunately, the Hammer Museum was closing just as Terry decided he would visit it.
We started our journey back to the trailer around 6 p.m.(still raining) Again, we had to drive through the Bald Eagle preserve with no luck. I should mention that Whitehorse (where we left the trailer) is in Yukon Territory and Haines is in Alaska. We had to go through customs each way. We had heard many stories about problems going through the border, but the only questions they seem to ask us are if we have firearms or alcohol. Our drive back was much more exciting as we saw a lot more wildlife. We saw 4 black bear, a porcupine and a herd of elk (30-40 of them right by the road. The rain stopped during the last two hours of the drive back to camp. It was a little after midnight when we finally got back to the trailer. In spite of the rain and cloud cover, it turned out to be a wonderful day.