Taku Harbor and Orca Point Lodge
Taku Harbor is a small, remote bay located on the eastern shore of Stephens Passage, about 22 miles southeast of Juneau. It is named after the Taku people, Alaskan Natives and geographic subdivision of the Tlingit. It was the site of Fort Durham, a trading post established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1840, and is now a National Historic Landmark. At present, it appears largely deserted, with a few small abandoned buildings and pilings that are likely remnants of a salmon cannery. While here, we explored the flora and fauna, combed the beach and kayaked. It was a perfect Alaska weather day.
Skunk cabbage is everywhere it seems. It is said to have a skunk odor when it is blooming but we noticed no unpleasant aroma. Wherever the leaves of this plant were available, they were used as “Indian wax paper,” for lining berry baskets, berry-drying racks and steaming pits. It is one of the first plants to come up each spring and is a favorite of bears coming out of hibernation.
Hellebore is one of the most violently poisonous plants on the NW Coast, a fact recognized by all indigenous groups. The Tlingit used Hellebore medicine for colds. The Nisgas used small quantities of the root for toothaches. It was believed that almost any disease could be cured by Indian Hellebore.
The forest was filled with salmonberry bushes and many other pretty flowers.
After we had all returned to the boat for lunch, a brown bear was spotted foraging in the sedge grass. He lunched for quite some time before wandering back into the forest. We were pleased he waited for us to leave that spot before taking his lunch break.
We left Taku Harbor to make our way to Orca Point Lodge on Colt Island. Here we viewed some of Alaska’s marine invertebrates in a touch tank, beach-combed the shoreline and enjoyed the scenery. We feasted on a dinner of king crab, grilled salmon and prime rib. After the dinner many gathered around the campfire to share stories, watch the sun set and eat s’mores.