Footloose at Handtroller Cove

Footloose anchored at Handtroller Cove-Southeast Alaska. Chilkat Range in background.
CLICK FOR VIDEO: Footloose anchored at Handtroller Cove-Southeast Alaska. Chilkat Range in background.

The sun sets behind the Chilkat Range of mountains as my 18-foot (5.5 meter) skiff named “Footloose” floats at Handtroller Cove, Southeast Alaska. Click the picture for my video taken from Shelter Island, our base for camping and kayaking. The dark low island beyond the skiff is Lincoln Island.

The Chilkat Range in the distance is inaccessible wilderness once you get past the narrow shoreline. Westward, the vast sharp mountains and glaciers give way to Glacier Bay. Fly beyond Glacier Bay, and you’re looking at the Alsek River watershed, the largest continuous designated wilderness in the world. Browse my blog to find a variety of posts about reefs and ecology of the Handtroller Cover area, and also about the spectacular beauty of the Alsek River.

Handtroller Cove is a dimple of an indentation on Favorite Channel, but the junction of Chatham Strait and Lynn Canal, two of the largest channels in Southeast Alaska, must be crossed to reach the Chilkat Mountains from here.

All of the major sea channels in Southeast Alaska follow geological fault lines that run from the southeast to the northwest. The channels have been carved by glaciers during the ice ages, giving them steep shorelines and surprising depths.

The water under the boat is only 6 ft (1.8 m) deep. But between the boat the Chilkat Mountains in the distance, the depth reaches 1,900 ft (579 m). If you imagine what the landscape would look like if there was no water, you would be standing on top of a mountain with steep slopes leading down into a 1900 ft (579 m) valley!

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William Arthur Hanson (Bill Hanson) is an Alaskan writer who searches for the roots of life in landscapes and the inhabitants they shape. He draws on 30 years as a biologist, forester, and ecologist. He has worked from the rainforests of Southeast Alaska to the subarctic taiga of the Interior. His writing mixes his deep knowledge of Alaska with people and places from his worldwide travels to Vietnam, Russia, Mexico, Ecuador, Europe, Malaysia, and much of the United States.

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