5/30: Port Houghton – What’s a Salt Chuck?

Yesterday marked the half way point in our Un-Cruise Ultra Adventure.  When I commented to Lou about all the wildlife we’d seen this week, he responded with “Aren’t you glad I booked all three weeks …”  I usually hate it when he’s right, but was happy to agree.  Today we were in a secluded anchorage in Port Houghton, and we had the opportunity to sign up for two outings.  Lou decided to take a rest day; not only is this allowed, it’s encouraged.  Too many people suffer from FOMO syndrome when on these trips, and the crew reminds us to take some relaxing time ( FOMO = Fear of Missing Out).  This wasn’t a problem for us.


I chose the morning Photo Walk on shore, and a late afternoon Skiff Tour.  But first, a few photos from our anchorage – these were taken just before breakfast at 7:30am:


One of the gals decided to try paddle boarding – it was a windy for a first timer, but she did well:


Wave goodbye to the safety of the Wilderness Discoverer. Our landing was easy on the rocky beach, and we were able to step right out onto shore. Today’s plan was to just take in the sights and get a little exercise. Hannah was with us to tell us about creatures and plants. One of the first thing we saw were lots of mussel shells, many covered with barnacles. We saw a log which appeared to be a condo for some animals – it was filled with broken shells and scat.



We were out for more than an hour when it was time to go back to the Wilderness Discoverer – We’re not Under Siege, it’s our skiff driver, Tucker, come to pick us up and return us to the ship.


Time for a nice rest after lunch, but at 4pm it was time to go explore the Salt Chuck.  What’s a Salt Chuck?  It’s where sea water runs into a river or a lake.  Here’s what I found in a forest service publication:

Port Houghton Salt Chuck Description: A large and complex salt chuck-estuary system with a lake-fed river and multiple streams, the Port Houghton salt chuck is one of only two salt chucks on the mainland in Southeast Alaska. The Rusty River is the backbone of fish production in this VCU, and is a substantial contributor to commercial fishing in the region. The Rusty is notable for producing all five varieties of pacific salmon and a substantial steelhead run. 


The salmon weren’t running this time of year, but we had bigger creatures in our sights – isn’t it time we saw a bear?

Oh Good, Bob’s driving the skiff – he’s always willing to look for bears


Oops, we aren’t the only one looking for bears. These hunting guides were not happy to see us in “their” territory on the last day of their hunting season.


They took off in a bit of a huff, after letting us know they weren’t happy. Laurie answered them calmly and professionally, explaining we had permits and forest service permission to be here. Who knows how much was posturing for the client, who may have paid up to $1,500 for his day?


The Salt Chuck Skiff Tour didn’t lead to any big wildlife sightings, but I imagine it’s a great place to see both salmon and bears at the right time of year.


Next on the agenda was dinner.  This was a special one, as the crew recognized all those with celebrations on Thursday evenings.  Since they hadn’t done it the previous week, I was included in this one as well – and, we got ice cream as an extra treat with our German Chocolate Cake. Scampi and Cornish Game hen were the entree options.

A special treat – ice cream & cake, AND dinner with friends (and a photobombing Zak)


We did see a few more humpbacks that evening as we cruised back through Frederick Sound on our way to Endicott Arm.  It was 8:30pm, misty and starting to rain, so we didn’t  try for too many photos; we just enjoyed the show:


It had been another good day.  More of a relaxing pace for us, and that was needed.  Tomorrow will be our last full day of un-cruising on the Wilderness Discoverer, and there is a glacier waiting for us.

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