A bucket list of adventures starring Sleepy, Hiking Geer, Gusto, Helpdesk, Rolling Peach and Pepe'

Friday, June 8, 2018

Alaska Inside Passage 2018

Day One - Misty Fjords 

Today we entered Misty Fjords National Monument there it was lush green and had tall mountains with numerous waterfalls. This was a beautiful area and reminded me a lot of lake Jocassee. Later in the day we took a skiff ride. On the tour we cruised around the interior of the harbor talking about the different plant life and animals that maybe along the beach. It poured rain most of the time so I was able to really give my rain gear a workout. During the outing we discovered some harbor seals laying on some rocks. They quickly shipped back into the water but resurfaced for a closer look. Of course I don't have my camera handy so no photo this time. I was able to catch a look at a couple of brown bears. These were small ones and they didn't want to be seen at all. But from the ship with a good camera zoom I got just a little of one as it moved away.

Day Two - Yes Bay 

Today we anchored in Yes Bay. We chose to do a short easy hike and enter the woods beneath Yes Bay Lodge (a remote fishing lodge). There was a raised wooden plank walkway that we used to take us deep into the forest the amount of greenery the moss the wetness of everything reminded us that we were in a temperate rain forest. Our guide today was Michelle she is very into plants especially those that have medicinal purposes she showed us all of the plants that the animals would eat for different element and to help with nature's processes. Later in the day we went on a kayak tour, and I was paired up with a good paddler from Australia. Her name was Elizabeth. We took off and left the group way behind. Kind of got in trouble for doing so. It was a very nice paddle as we saw some really neat stone overhangs and tall Cliff's. Around 10:14PM we got word of a killer whale, and I was barely able to spot it. Got a grainy photo. Then off to bed for a great sleep. Ben displayed his talent with rock balancing.

Day 3 - Wrangell Alaska 
Woke up to Bright sunshine today. I actually had to put on sunglasses just to look out the window. After a full day of mist and overcast skies the sun was quite bright. Today we will spend time in a small town called Wrangell. It will be good to step of the boat for a while. Took a walk today to a petroglyph beach and saw some interesting old carvings. Later Michael, Phoebe and I took a hike up Mount Dewey. Nice view from the mountain back down to the boat and town. It's about 300 feet or so to the top.

Day 4 - LeConte ice gardens and cruising the straits 
Today we are moving through some very tight narrows. Seems like a fishing village as there are a ton of small fishing boats everywhere you look. I saw 7 eagles at one time just sitting on the bank as we floated by. Never really thought about an eagle not being perched on a tree or in flight. But I guess if your an eagle you do what you want. The mountains in this area are beginning to change. They are not as steep coming down to the water and seem to be much shorter as well. Today we cruised up to an ice field. We took a skiff ride with Wilson and we came very close to a number of fairly large icebergs. One of the coolest things is when the iceberg get caught on Shore during low tide. So we were able to walk across the beach area which was mostly stone and touch and make pictures around these iceberg that have been stuck on land. When we were coming back or skiff pilot Drew was maneuvering through the icebergs and it felt like we were in a video game. Then all of the sudden the engine stopped. We had another skiff pull up alongside to help however we could not ever get the engine running it for speed again. We just limited along back to the main boat on half power. We were close to glacier a that flipped just after we left. That is why you don't get closer to these things! The ice gardens were awesome. Large chunks of ice just floating by all around us. When we were leaving we were speeding through like a video game. Just before dinner we had some great wildlife viewing. There were two moose near the shore and just a little later we saw an orca. The fun continued tonight with some humpback whales and seals. The weather however is cold and raining so it was not great for pictures at all.

Day 5 - Halleck Harbor
Woke up to sunshine and a large group of humpback whales cooperative feeding. This is when a group of whales circle herring releasing bubbles and it creates kind of a net. Then the leader calls for all to travel up inside the bubble net to catch as many as possible. Tried to get photos but it all happens so fast. Found that getting video was the better option and I can grab stills from the video. Later in the morning we went on a shore walk. The number of Starfish could not be counted. It was just near low tide and the sights were spectacular! All kinds of aquatic life under rocks and hiding in any crevice they could find. Just after the beach walk we went just 500 feet into the woods. You felt like you were just transported into another world. The forest was dense and green. Lots of slugs and plant life of every kind. Really amazing to view the moss and variety of other ground cover.

Day 6 Tracy Arm Fjord / Sawyer Glacier.
“Tracy Arm is a fjord in Alaska near Juneau. It is named after the Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Franklin Tracy.” I woke up to see a school of Dall’s Porpoise swimming of the bow of the ship. They look like small killer whales to me. I'll have to look them up online. During yoga class we saw a humpback breaching and coming pretty high out of the water as he prepared to splash back hard. We are now headed toward the Sawyer Glacier. It's still early and I already see ice in the water. The Glacier was awesome. Phoebe and Jane Ann did the polar plunge. I may do it next week.

Day 7 - Mendenhall Glacier
I took a guided trip to the glacier. As returned out it was great it was just me and a guide. We paddle the tandem kayak about 2.5 miles across Lake Mendenhall to the foot of the glacier. The trip normally takes about an hour and a half with a large group, Katie and I were able to make it in about 40 minutes. I learned about a bird call an Arctic Tern who flies back in forth between the poles continuously. Based on what I was told if you take the total miles that that bird flies in the lifetime it would make it from here to the moon and 1/2 way back. As we walked Katie talked about the deep crevasses and about how blue ice is dense with no air bubbles. The white ice is lose and feels like sleet or heavy freezing rain to walk on. I was wearing micro spikes to keep traction with my boot to the ice. There were number of boulders on the ice that when heated by the Sun would create a Mulin or large circular hole in the ice. Later I ask Katie what it would cost to have a private guided tour and she said around $1,200. So this turned out to be an awesome adventure we were able to spend a lot more time on the ice because we were much faster crossing the lake in the kayak then if I'd been with a large group.

Image result for arctic tern

Arctic Tern Seeing two summers each year as it migrates along a convoluted route from its northern breeding grounds to the Antarctic coast for the southern summer and back again about six months later. Recent studies have shown average annual round trip lengths of about 44,100 miles. The Arctic tern flies as well as glides through the air. It nests once every one to three years (depending on its mating cycle); once it has finished nesting it takes to the sky for another long southern migration.

Glacier Terms to know

The process by which pieces of ice break away from the terminus of a glacier that ends in a body of water or from the edge of a floating ice shelf that ends in the ocean. Once they enter the water, the pieces are called icebergs.

A crack or series of cracks that open in the surface of a moving glacier in response to differential stresses caused by glacier flow. They range in shape from linear to arcuate, in length from feet to miles. Their orientation may be in any direction with respect to the glacier flow. The deepest crevasses may exceed 100 feet.

A rock of unspecified shape and size, transported a significant distance from its origin by a glacier or iceberg and deposited by melting of the ice. Erratics range from pebble-size to larger than a house and usually are of a different composition that the bedrock or sediment on which they are deposited.

A glacially eroded or modified U-shaped valley that extends below sea level and connects to the ocean. Filled with seawater, depths may reach more than 1,000 feet below sea level. The largest Alaskan fiords are more than 100 miles long and more than 5 miles wide. Also spelled Fiord.

Moulin (Glacier Mill)

A narrow, tubular chute or crevasse through which water enters a glacier from the surface. Occasionally, the lower end of a moulin may be exposed in the face of a glacier or at the edge of a stagnant block of ice.

A jagged pinnacle or tower of glacier ice located on the surface of a glacier, formed as a glacier flows down an icefall or by the intersection of crevasses. Frequently, large areas of a glacier will be covered by séracs.

Day 8 - Idaho Inlet
Sure hope that “keep” has all of my notes from last week I had made a lot of notes about the trip so far this morning for some reason the app is looking to update and all the the notes have disappeared. (* lucky that they were all in the cloud and synced when we got near a signal again). We plan to kayak at about 12:45 this afternoon. The schedule was a little different today we didn't have breakfast at 7:30 as normal we are now having a brunch at 10 and then the activities will start this afternoon. We signed up for kayaking but right now the rain is falling and it's very foggy so hope the weather lifts. The fog has started to lift and has made for some great photos of fog hanging just above the water against the mountains.

Day 9 - Glacier Bay National Park
Woke up this morning in front of the Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. This glacier is over 250 ft tall and we witnessed some calving . It sounds kind of like a shotgun or maybe a distant thunder when the large pieces of ice fall. We’re now on our way to see at least three more Glaciers in this area Reid, John Hopkins and Lamplugh Glacier are most likely our next visits. As we started back south we saw a furry friend along the coast. I was able to get a few nice photos of the brown bear. With the incredible views of mountains I was able to get plenty of awesome photos for Flickr. Absolutely a beautiful sunny day. Had to go to short sleeves from down jacket in one morning Saw a few mountain goats along gloomy knob. They were very hard spot even with binoculars and my camera attempted to get a shot here or there but it was very difficult as they were so far away. I can't stop thinking about how awesome the weather is today. Yesterday it was foggy and in the 40s. Today it's sunny and in the high 60s. Almost hot in the direct sun. We have seen a number of brown bear, puffin, sea gull's, sea lions, mountain goats and otter today. The mountains are just outstanding in the morning sun. We ended the day at Glacier national Park Lodge. They have a full humpback whale skeleton that is amazing to view. I also learned that those whales can live to 90 years old! Michael and I beat Phoebe and Winfred in spades to top off a great day.

Day 10 - Chichagof Island
Neka Nay Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At 75 miles long and 50 miles wide, it has a land area of 2,048.61 square miles Today I woke up to Bright sunshine and reactively warm temperatures. I found myself at morning yoga just before 7am and the stretch was on. I think the rest of the week I will do my own version of stretching and not do the class. This week's instructor is not as good. This morning we will do open paddle for about 3 hours and later today we will do a shore walk. I think Michael and Stephanie are doing a bushwack. It will be interesting to hear about that adventure. We did a shore walk with our guide Ben this afternoon. It's amazing what you find when you just turn over rocks at low tide. All kinds of little critters live under there. We found some sea asparagus on the backside of this little island called “Chimney Rock Island”, and it was actually pretty tasty. Overall it's a great day with a beautiful sunset.

Day 11 - Pavlov Bay then cruise Takatz Bay and Chatham Strait
Another sunny day in Alaska, what are the chances. Woke up this morning to calm waters and a few good adventure options. Open paddle at 9am or a skiff tour and stroll. We are going to do the tour and stroll. Michelle will be our guide today and I expect it to be warm and fun. We traveled up a short distance into the mouth of a small river toward a fairly short waterfall. Alongside the falls was a man made fish ladder. A fish ladder is just like a staircase for fish. The idea was to make it easier for Salmon to swim upstream. In the end there is not many who think they offered any real help. We got out of the skiff along the beach area just downstream of the falls. Michelle was noticeably nervous for the short hike to the top of the falls since this is a prime spot for brown bear. Luckily we saw no signs of bear going or coming from the falls hike. Later we saw a few eagles and some harbor seals as we finished up the tour. Later today we will whale watch and this evening we will do another open paddle. As we cruised this afternoon there were a number of whale sightings and some porpoise as well. I've seen them all so I didn't participate in the flurry of folks with cameras running from deck to deck and aft to stern. May be me but seeing a whale now is just not that exciting anymore. Evening Paddle!

Day 12 - Deep Bay 
Woke up to a new and very calm cove. There are a lot of cedar trees in the area and many of them are dead. I had assumed some kind of disease but was told that hard freezes prior to insulating snow can damage the roots and kill the tree. The rocky slopes require trees to have relatively shallow root systems. Therefore, they actually require a gentle transition to Winter with some snow to help protect the roots from extreme temps. I went on an open paddle this morning and for the most part it was calm and relaxing. However, there were some really irritating gnats around and that caused me to end the paddle a little early. Later today I plan to take a skiff ride around the area. Just got back from the skiff ride and outside of seeing a bear it was somewhat uneventful. We ended the evening as we have most days, with a card game and bourbon drink. However, lately we have had a 'Duck Fart' as the last drink. Very tasty. I found that the original is really a layered shot not a mixed drink. I like mine mixed so I can sip it. Otherwise you have to down it like a shot. Here are some options.

Duck Fart recipe
1/2 oz Jack Daniel's® Tennessee whiskey
1/2 oz amaretto almond liqueur
1/2 oz Bailey's® Irish cream

Layer ingredients in order as listed above.

28% (56 proof)

Duck Fart #2 recipe
1/2 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
1/2 oz Bailey's® Irish cream
1/2 oz Crown Royal® Canadian whisky

Layer ingredients in order as listed above.

27% (54 proof)
Serve in: Shot Glass

Modified Duck Fart recipe
3/4 oz Crown Royal® Canadian whisky
3/4 oz Bailey's® Irish cream
3/4 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur

Carefully layer each liquor in the order listed (from top to bottom) into a shot glass. Shoot.

27% (54 proof)
Serve in: Shot Glass

Moose Fart recipe
1 part Absolut® vodka
1 part Crown Royal® Canadian whisky
1 part Kahlua® coffee liqueur
1 part Bailey's® Irish cream

Add with ice in a blender, and blend to a thick consistency.

30% (60 proof)
Serve in: Shot Glass

Day 13 - Nakwasina Sound
Today we are at Nakwasina sound. The sites are very similar to yesterday. So there is nothing here that stands out particularly. This morning we will do a guided kayak tour and then later a shore walk. From there it will be time to pack up and head home. We took a shore walk today with Ben and found a new trail that seemed to be frequented by brown bears. Saw a spot where a bear had been napping and later a number of scat deposits. On the way back we noticed a number of trees that were marked by the bears claws. It was a great way to end our adventure. We played cards later and had our Duke Fart but for the first time in days we didn’t close down the bar as Erin was still around when we left. This is a trip I will remember for a long time. Glad I was able to go!

For a glance at a few hundred of the thousands of photo's that were taken.  Go here https://photos.app.goo.gl/Bg67TAey5UUMjC378