Hidden Gems in Alaska’s Rainforest

Prince of Wales Island Tree in the FogThorne Bay, Alaska - Prince of Wales Island

The trees on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska entertained me for two decades. I watched for my favorite trees around each turn on the road between Thorne Bay and the other towns on “The Rock,” as locals call the island. And let me tell you, there are a lot of curves on that road!

It is common to see these hidden gems mingling in the fog. A few of the best trees stood out as silhouettes off in the distance, as these beauties faded into the clouds the further away they stood. “The trees are as different as people in a crowd,” I often thought as we drove along the mountain roads.

The light green lichen hanging from the tree limbs has the nickname Old Man’s Beard, and herbalists use it in holistic medicine.

Now, for the rest of the Alaska story.

Tree tops on Prince of Wales Island
Trees with Character in SE Alaska

Did you know trees in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest grow back naturally without replanting? The tree hugger in me must admit that the Tongass National Forest is the perfect place to harvest timber. It doesn’t take long for the forest to return. We wandered through the harvested woods where the timber industry had clearcut the forest only sixty years previously, the old stumps being the only evidence.

Elgin snapped this photo of me on a hike in March. I am wearing an insulated, waterproof jacket with a fleece pullover and blue gloves resting on my leg. You can’t see them, but I have on long johns. My boots are waterproof, and my backpack is full of supplies and lunch.

Melissa Cook stooping by a creek in southeast Alaska
Melissa Cook – Prince of Wales Island
Lichen on Trees in Southeast Alaska
Lichen on Tree Limbs – Prince of Wales Island

Just for Fun.

Aaron Linsdau Explores with WY Jeepers Elgin & Melissa Cook

Aaron Linsdau released a crossover video with our YouTube channel based on an adventure we took to the ghost town of Kirwin, Wyoming (below). To the left is a YouTube short featuring Aaron, my husband, Elgin, and me talking about my book and our Wyoming Jeepers YouTube channel.

The professional adventurer and polar explorer Aaron Linsdau endorsed my Alaska adventure memoir (Amazon affiliate), The Call of the Last Frontier, saying, “The unexpected and sometimes unwanted adventures this family faced in Alaska matches the drama of expeditions I’ve been on. This book helped me live adventures I’ll never have but desperately want.” 

Aaron Linsdau’s Adventure Show of Kirwin, WY – August 2022