Inside Passage Blog

By Linda Lewis



June 17, 2007 – A Special Place: Baranof Warm Springs


Almost every cruiser in SE AK goes to this wonderful spot at some time during their trip. Baranof Warm Springs is truly a very special place.
This the entrance to the bay, with the waterfall nearby. It may not look like much of a waterfall from this perspective, but it is.

Here is the waterfall up close. It is really thundering this year due to the record snowfall.

This is the view from the Royal Sounder. The current from the falls makes docking here an interesting challenge. Well, it actually makes the undocking the real challenge if you're on the falls side of the dock as we were this time. There is about a two to three knot current to contend with that is pushing you onto the dock.  Baranof was my turn to dock (and undock) and I do love a challenge.  However, by the time we got ready to depart all of the other boats on our side of the dock had already departed. That meant I didn't have to worry about clearing a boat behind me. I could cheat and take a little extra room on my exit.

There is a lovely boardwalk through this small community. Only four people live here year round. I have a picture of a terrific lady who stays year round but I swore a blood oath to her several years ago that if she let me take her picture I would never show it to anyone. And I have kept that promise. We had a nice visit again this year.

Instead of their usual 18 foott snowfall, they had a record 34 feet fall this year. It snowed several feet as late as the middle of May - about two weeks before we arrived. Some of the smaller cabins really suffered as can be seen in this picture. The other side of that coin is that the abundant snow has made the mountain scenery the most beautiful we have ever seen up here.

Water is piped from the upper falls natural warm springs to this public bath house on the dock. There are three stalls with tubs that were once destined to be watering troughs for cattle. Don't care!!!! The bath is great and the view is better.

And the view gets even better from this angle. You just sit in the tub in a trance and see this glorious scene. Pinch me. Is this real? It's tempting to sit there forever!

There was a brand new all-wooden tub being installed in the third stall the day we left. What a beauty. It was very close to being ready to use. I was able to get a picture of it, but I'll have to wait til my next visit for a woody soak.

The really fabulous place to get a hot soak at Baranof, however, is in the natural springs at the upper falls. You get to it by a short hike along a boardwalk and mud trail. This year, because of the very recent snowfall, we engaged in a unique activity: a snowball fight!

OK, my turn.

And here is the spectacular goal. Now THIS is a hot pool.

Sitting in hot water with a roaring waterfall right at your shoulder is as close to nirvana as I can imagine.

It's a maelstrom.

And for perspective, here is my boot in the picture. When I say you're close to it, I mean you are really close to it.

It's difficult to leave this breathtaking scene. I think it is the most beautiful natural hot springs setting I have ever seen.

A hike beyond this spot brings you to vistas like this one at the lake that feeds the falls ...

And this ...

On the return leg of my hike I paused to find this pretty juxtaposition.

There is another little adventure I had while at Baranof Warm Springs this year. There is a little salt-water lagoon in the bay that I have always said I was going to go look at, but I had never gotten around to it before. The Douglass guide says it should be entered at high water slack. I drove by the entrance in the dinghy about two hours pre high water -  just to take a peek. Hmmm.... not ready yet. I can't drive the dinghy uphill over THAT.

OK.... Waiting.... Waiting.... The Douglass book said .... I'm back for a look at one hour pre high water. Well, it looks pretty inviting now. I can do that. Can't I? Looks doable. Let's go!!!

Uh. It was definitely a sled ride in and I found a little "lumpiness" at the other end of the entrance that I couldn't see from the outside. I had to quickly raise the engine and ride the flood in until I was pitched into the lagoon. Looking back at the entrance things looked like this. Ooops. It's hard to tell in this picture from the inside looking out, but I could see that I was not going to be leaving soon. I called David on the VHF and said he should enjoy his book because it would be about an hour before I could exit.

I set the little anchor we carry in the dinghy and had myself an hour long Walden Pond experience that Thoreau would have been proud of. A gentle rain. An adult eagle training an adolescent. Millions of the tiniest jellyfish I had ever seen. Mountains. Snow. Birds singing. More birds singing. What a gift it is to be here.
When the depth sounder showed me what I wanted to see I checked the little channel and saw this.

Now that looks more like it. No more lumps. So... Engine down and exit made at ...  well, imagine that ... at high water. Just like the Douglass book says!
I'll just call this my little cowboy moment for the trip. Let's see what other little "safe adventures" I can get myself into. Stay tuned for future Linda shenanigans.

Linda & Dave
M/V Royal Sounder



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