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Monday, June 14, 2010

6/13 Hoonah and Glacier Bay

We arrived today back in Hoonah from our weeks stay in Glacier Bay. The weather cooperated for the first few days while we checked in at the Park and saw our first glaciers.

Our trip from Hoonah to Glacier Bay was filled with wildlife. There were whales off in the distance all across Icy Strait and several puffins. Then we began to see the sea otters. They were everywhere on our crossing and throughout the lower part of the park. They are a little shy and hard to get too close to. But they do a funny little head stretch up out of the water when they want to take a look at you, sort of like a prairie dog coming up out of his hole.

The views were amazing in the bright sunlight. Mountains farther than the eye can see. We spent one night anchored right at the base of Reid Glacier. The winds at a glacier are interesting. They come rolling down off the glacier faces with gusto. The wind blew a steady strong blow with little variation on strentgth or direction. No flutter or winding just a straight down your throat blow. It was steady thru the aftenoon all through the night. In the wee hours of the morning there was a lull but by the time we pulled anchor at 630am it was blowing straight off the face the same strong steady ~cold~ blow.

The next morning we headed farther "up bay" to John Hopkins Glacier in John Hopkins Inet and further north into Tarr Inlet where it terminates at both Grand Pacific Glacier and Margorie Glacier. We couldnt get very close to John Hopkins because of a seasonal closure for seal pupping but at Marjorie we were able to get up quite close to the glacier face.
It isnt wise to get too close though as the face is constantly calcing off pieces into Tarr Inlet. We spent quiet a while working our way up and drifting with the current down along the face while listening to the cracking and booming of the face. Sometimes it sounds like a gun shot or an explosion and though we were seemingly close to the face in reality we were at such a distance that by the time the sound could reach our ears the ice was in or nearly into the bay.
We has met another sailing couple back in Prince Rupert on "High Maintanance Too" who took a expedition cruise to the face of Marjorie and saw us there (we had no idea they were there) they took some photos as we were setting sale away fromthe face from the deck of the expedition boat. They ran into us again at Hoonah and brought over two pictures of Island Bound undersail in front of the glacier!

After the glaciers we took a break and spent two night at Blue Mouse Cove. The weather began to change but I wanted to get some more kayaking in and was hoping to see some wildlife. From Blue Mouse Cove it is possible to go thru a cut into a wilderness area that is closed to all motorized vehicles. We set off in the afternoon and the weather was holding so (at my suggestion) we decided once we were out of the cut to make a loop around and back in the second cut that we had been able to see from our boat earlier. Unfortunatly neither of us had taken a close look at the chart before setting out on this expedition. What looked like a short loop out and back in turned into a three hour haul. The tide changed, from slack to against us, the wind came up, the no see ums followed us in clouds and the boat was no where in site. When we finally rounded yet another point and using the binoculars were finally able to see Island Bound off in the distance I am not sure which of us was more relieved. I suspect Bill was getting more worried than he let on and my tennis elbow had been shrieking at me for a long time. Next time we will make a better plan. It was actually quite stupid but seemed so simple at the time. It is exactly how people end up in dire straits in the wilderness. We were never really in any danger but I was begining to get seriously worried.
The weather continued to turn nastier and nastier. After Blue Mouse Cove we headed up the east arm of Glacier Bay towards Muir Glacier but the weather turned us back. We spent two night in the rain and wind at North Sandy Cove then our park pass was up and it was time to go. Again through the lower part of the park we saw whales and pufins and otters. I saw my first sleeping whale in the park...they are just there, barely moving at the surface. Slow breaths and no diving....we came quite close to one before we could see well enough to realize it was a whale. Then as we were leaving the park three big whales surfaced quite near our boat.....all three abreast close enough to see the barnicles. I could clearly see the closest ones tail fins and they slipped below on a shallow breath right under the starboard side of the boat. I was surprised that we took them by surprise assuming they would know right where we were but it sure seemed like we were a surprise.
Back in Hoonah now to do some laundry and get a few groceried then off to Sitka and hopefully to the hotsprings. kat

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