Sunday, 14 April 2013
Ibrahim jaffar INTRODUCING ADMIRALTY ISLAND
Only 15 miles southeast of Juneau is Admiralty Island National Monument, a 1493-sq-mile preserve, of which 90% is designated wilderness. The Tlingit Indians, who know Admiralty Island as Kootznoowoo, ‘the Fortress of Bears, ‘ have lived on the 96-mile-long island for more than 1000 years.
Admiralty Island has a wide variety of wildlife. Bays such as Mitchell, Hood, Whitewater and Chaik contain harbor seals, porpoises and sea lions. Seymour Canal, the island’s largest inlet, has one of the highest densities of nesting eagles in the world, and humpback whales often feed in the waterway. Sitka black-tailed deer are plentiful, and the streams choke with spawning salmon during August.
But more than anything else, Admiralty Island is known for its bears. The island has one of the highest populations of bears in Alaska, with an estimated 1500 to 1700 living there, enjoying a good life roaming the drainages for sedges, roots and berries much of the year, but feasting on salmon in August before settling into dens on the upper slopes to sleep away most of the winter.
Admiralty is a rugged island, with mountains that rise to 4650ft and covered by tundra and even permanent ice fields. Numerous lakes, rivers and open areas of muskeg break up the coastal rain forest of Sitka spruce and western hemlock.
You can fly in for a stay at a USFS cabin, spend time kayaking Seymour Inlet and Mitchell Bay or arrange a bear-watching trip to Pack Creek. The most unusual adventure on the island is the Cross Admiralty Island canoe route, a 32-mile paddle that spans the center of the island from the village of Angoon to Mole Harbor. Although the majority of the route consists of calm lakes connected by streams and portages, the 10-mile paddle from Angoon to Mitchell Bay is subject to strong tides that challenge even experienced paddlers.a