Valley View Shelter

Valley View Shelter is located at the base of a limestone cliff on the extreme southern end of Sonyakay Ridge on northern Chichagof Island (see photos below). The shelter overlooks Wukuklook Creek and the surrounding valley. The valley has been logged almost to the base of the cliff, and the cave can be accessed over the clear-cut from a logging road below. A landslide has occurred to the east of the shelter and has cut a clearing through the forest above. Several other small solution openings are also present in the cliff.

The above photos show the southernmost end of Sonyakay Ridge looking north from across Wukuklook Creek. In the telephoto shot at the right, Valley View Shelter can be seen at the base of the cliff in the left half of the photo.

Dr. Heaton was taken to Valley View Shelter by Geno Cisneros of the Hoonah Ranger District in the summer of 2001. Animal tracks were discovered all along the base of the cliff and on the platform in front of the cave. On the flat dirt floor of this shelter they found several nest depressions made by otters, one of which contained a variety of fish and bird bones (see photos below). All were small and fragmentary and were probably derived from otter scat. A sediment sample was collected that included most of the bones. The bones are surely of recent origin, and the shelter does not appear to contain any additional fossiliferous sediments.

Photos of the outside and inside of south-facing Valley View Shelter, with its peculiar asymmetric A-frame ceiling.

Wukuklook Creek runs a short distance east into Chatham Strait below the cave. Tongass National Forest has constructed a boardwalk trail down the creek to the beach in a small cove, providing a nice view across Chatham Strait to Admiralty Island (see photos below). The otters that den in Valley View Shelter undoubtedly do their fishing in this cove.

Geno Cisneros is pictured at the left on the boardwalk trail down Wukuklook Creek that he designed and helped build. At the right is a view from the end of the boardwalk looking south down Chatham Strait toward Tenakee Inlet.

© 2002 by Timothy H. Heaton