Prince of Wales Alaska Rainforest Realty, LLC | Southeast Alaska Real Estate | Homes and Lots for Sale

Southeast Alaska, Prince of Wales Island… realtor Dennis Sylvia happy to help you list or view homes and lots for sale on POW communities such as Coffman Cove, Craig, Hollis, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Klawock, Naukati, Thorne Bay, Whale Pass, and remote properties as well.

Leave a comment

the “official” herald of spring

The vernal equinox occurred two weeks ago (March 20th) by the calendar and two days ago we heard a flock of geese pass by during the early morning.

But now, spring “officially” has arrived at our Setter Lake – the yellow skunk cabbage (Lysichitum americanum) shoots are emerging from the lake edge’s soggy, organic soil. Alas, the deer are relived by this edible sign of spring.

Skunk Cabbage Shoots

Skunk cabbage shoots. The solitary yellow flower bud is the lone survivor of a nibbling deer.

Leave a comment

nothin’ common about the common thrush

In June 1853, Thoreau wrote of an enchanting encounter with the Wood Thrush: “This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.”


Hear! Hear! David Thoreau’s poignant prose about the elusive common thrush resonates with anyone who hears the morning trill of this beautiful bird with its bright orange breast.  The common thrush is also called the Varied Thrush. The website has a page on the varied thrush including a sample of its melodious morning trill.

We are fortunate in having at least one common thrush pair nesting in our immediate area.  The robust orange-breasted male arrived first.  Later we saw the more subdued attired female perched warily at our birdfeeder. Needless to say, we were excited as their arrival gives promise to many happy birdsong mornings.

There is nothing as stepping out onto our deck with a cup of coffee on our Setter Lake spring and summer mornings listening to the trill of the common thrush with the chorus of black-eyed junkos accompanied by the staccato drumming of our resident red-necked woodpecker.

The common thrush is a boreal woodland resident. As such they have been a recurring theme of our Prince of Wales Island springs.  The Audubon website describes their environment as

Thick, wet forest, conifers; in winter, woods, ravines, thickets. Breeds in coniferous forest of various types, but most common in dense, wet forest near the coast, in areas of fir, hemlock, and spruce with dense understory. In migration and winter favors coniferous woods but also occurs in undergrowth of other woods, especially near streams.

As long as we are here, they have a home as we nurture our little woodland refuge.  They are especially welcome as they are ground foragers with a diet of insects and other invertebrates like snails, earthworms, and hopefully slugs.100_6011

For the longest time we have been one of less than a handful of residents along Setter Lake. Recently several of the lakeside lots have gone on the market; we fervently hope all new owners have the same respect and love for our woodland neighbors that we have. (if interested in viewing the lots, please contact Dennis Sylvia at Cell/Msg:  1.775.420.1688 or 1.907.965.5004)  It is truly an enchanting experience to enjoy our dwindling old growth forests from so close.

Leave a comment

bear bread…anyone?

Found throughout Southeast Alaska, bear bread or conk, is a familiar sight on tree stumps, dead trees, downed trees, even firewood.  They are a the spore producing fruiting portion of the fungus, its main body called the mycelium are stringy filaments that burrow into the tree contributing primarily to its decay by absorbing nutrients, breaking down the structure, etc. Some conks though are thought to protect the tree against other fungus.

The primary ones that I have found on Prince of Wales Island are the tinder conk, artist conk, and turkey tail. There are others that reside on birch, aspen, or cottonwood that I have not seen yet…perhaps because most of my time has been spend in old growth, muskeggy areas of the island.


Bear Bread , Prince of Wales Island (Photo Credit L. Sylvia)

I was told they are called ‘bear bread’ because they are eaten by bears. It would take a bear to eat one as they are tough, fibrous, and not appetizing.

When very young, they look like white luminescent cap mushrooms with filaments growing into the wood. The hard shell appears to grow from or around the cap, initially tiny than growing with time.

One of the most interesting conks I have found was a turkey tail cluster in a patch of dense second growth on our property.

The person who homesteaded our lot had cut down some old growth by the lake. The area was muskeg damp with no light filtering through the dense second growth. The turkey tail was a florescent black. In other years, have found patches of florescent orange-red in the same patch.  I do not know if the patches were sub-species or due to the absence of natural light.  However, we have not seen them since we thinned the dense second growth and the area is profuse with natural light and air movement.

Below are pictures of turkey tail conk au natural. They are beautiful and fascinating.

Out on a cross-country hike, the pups and I found what must be an artist conk featuring a wolfish or human features?  The conk was high up the dead tree. Actually artist conk’s name is derived primarily from the use of their bottom as a canvas for artist.


wolf features?

Conk grows in colonies. There is rarely just one. The individual conks in a colony illustrate the different stages of conk growth. There are tiny nubbins the size of a penny to fully mature sized conks.

It appears to me that some of the individuals merge to make an aggregated mega-conk.

The set of photos below show the immature stage of the conk on the verge of forming its hard outer shell. At this stage its texture resembles that of yam noodles in sukiyaki. Or a water-saturated earthworm.

The remaining photos show the different stages and sizes of conk in a colony. The final photo shows a colony merging.

The oldest conk that I can recall is the one in the slideshow below with our Shiloh Elias peering around the trunk at me. We first saw that particular conk in 2007. When we checked it recently, there were two three inch cedar seedlings growing out of it in what could be considered a circular life-cycle. Unfortunately I dispatched those seedlings.

Slideshow of some bear bread we have found.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just as an aside, it is tough photographing anything with our canine pack with me…long noses and hard heads push their way in front of the camera, or mega-paws squash something being photographed as curious pups crowd around to “help”. The command “Sit-stay” accompanied with treats work wonders., one of many articles on the net about conk.

Leave a comment

russ’ floating bit of Americana

A bright forest green wooden boat with the American Flag waving proudly above was an eye-catcher… or perhaps, an eye-sore at the City of Thorne Bay Harbor  It was the ‘home sweet home’ of a Vietnam vet named Russ.


Russ’s bit of Americana – Thorne Bay Harbor 2008 (Photo Credit L. Sylvia)

I did not know Russ except to wave and say “hi” when our paths crossed while attending to “business” in the City of Thorne Bay. He is one of many Vietnam era vets who live in Southeast Alaska with their grey hair pulled back in pony-tails, wearing time-worn faces above time-worn clothing, tooling about “the city” on quads. Russ’ quad had a smaller version of the stars and stripes waving his presence, proud of his country and service.

Some made their homes on “southside” and boated across Thorne Bay from Davidson-Landing to the city center. Russ made his home right there in the harbor where he had easy access to Thorne Bay Market, City Library, and The Port where mail can be picked up everyday, and a cup of espresso and a Nathan’s hot dog can be enjoyed with friends.

Russ’  method of heating aboard his green boat confounded me as his deck always had a prominent stack of firewood dwindling and growing as the gloomy, rainy or snowy days of winter waxed and waned.  To my knowledge, the Thorne Bay Volunteer Firemen were never called to Russ’ place.

About three years ago, I noticed the boat was missing from its slip in the harbor.  Russ must have parted company with Thorne Bay Harbor as I have not seen it in the past three years since. I do not know if he made a final trip to the great harbor in the sky,  sold his quaint floating home and became a soil-bound resident somewhere, or what. Guess I could ask, but I would much rather envision Russ on a perhaps occasionally perilous adventure of his own making on his green wooden boat investigating the nooks and crannies of the Alaskan coastline. Where ever Russ may be I wish him Godspeed.

Leave a comment

its a dog’s world…winter 2016-2017

No snakes…no ticks…no scorpions…no grasshoppers…just bears and wolves!

It’s a dog’s world on Prince of Wales Island, on Setter Lake in South Thorne!  Especially when it snows!


A Texan transplant’s first taste of snow!


“Dang! That is coooold!” exclaims the wader. “Silly girl!” scoffs her big brothers! Puppies at Setter Lake


Play Ball!

In the background of the picture above, the white tanks are propane used for drier and cooking stove. The red tank is deisel-1 used for heating (wood stove is our primary heat source), and the outbuilding is the cistern house. The cistern house contains our rain catchment captured water for household uses.


whatcha doing, Mom?


Snowball Magnet!


Rascally Thor and Iris refereed by the judicious Elias with Rosie as spectator

They revel in it, wonder at it,  taste it, chase each other kicking up clouds of snowfall, burrow in it popping up with comical snow masks.


Rosebug, the head of the low-tiered pups.


Sammie and Eli, 220lbs of Shiloh Shepherd between them in old growth grove.


Homeward bound! Hot coffee and bully sticks!