Friday, April 26, 2013

Airport to North Douglas highway

Saturday I dumped all my chores and went rafting with Mr. X. We went to the Airport trail and then crossed the mud flats into Fritz Cove. We saw the spout of a humpback whale near the Douglas shore.

hiking attire

After launching from a sand bar we paddled north in calm seas. We saw a thousand scoters on the water with a few mallards mixed in.

Mr. X spotted a humpback spout in the distance. We both saw what looked like a breaching whale with a big splash. As we paddled, we watched the whale work the shoreline, coming closer and closer. Eventually, it passed behind us and dove, showing us its beautiful tail.

We crossed over to Douglas Island for a quick lunch in the sun. Then back to the boats. The gasget on my wrist is a little tight and my hand swelled up.

I timed the waves poorly and was thrown back on the beach on a barnicled rock. After a quick look to make sure there wasn't any damage, and a couple more attempts, I made it back into the now rolling waves.

We were now going against the tide and I was worried about making it back. I shouldn't say I worried at that point, because I became seriously worried when we approached the mud flats and spotted a few seals, then a few more, and then realized we were surrounded by them. There were probably 30 harbor seals who prior to our arrival had been splashing and diving. Now they were simply staring. A couple pushed their shoulders out of the water to get a better look at us. Some had dark heads, some had silver heads. No pictures of them though 'cause we were too busy staring back at them. Mr. X was enjoying it. I was ready to yell and poke my paddle. I greeted a couple - much like I do the neighbor's dog - since they seem to recognize human voices.

We passed into really shallow water and no longer had an audience. Well except for the bonaparte gulls that I love to see. They were all over the place. Mr. X spotted a river otter on a sand bar and decided that's where we wanted to land. Thankfully the otter was just launching to go up river, so there was no competition.

We carried our boats to some grass and packed up, then hiked back to the airport. A good day. Even if I was a chicken.  

This drysuit business is totally new to me. It's (obviously) airtight, so you've got to "burp" it by squeezing air out of your neck gasget.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Maiden Voyage of 2013

note: pictures taken with GPS camera. Definitely affects quality

We took out the Packrafts for Family Night. Just a short trip at Auke Rec to get back in the groove of things. It was also the first time out in dry suits. We've got to figure out how to get in and out of them a little faster.
I look goofy in this picture. But that's the real deal.
We also ran into people we knew. I tried really hard to not make eye contact.

On Tuesday the next week we went back to Auke Rec to try self - and assisted rescues. Mr. X and I hadn't had the guts to try doing this in cold water without dry suits, which is kind of bad. We now know that we can get ourselves back in our rafts if we ever flip, at least in calm water. We did find out that I have a harder time tipping than Mr. X does, not too big of a surprise based on general gender differences, but good to know.

Monday, April 22, 2013


The locals are saying we're done with summer. We had two weekends of spring in a row.

Saturday night Mr. X and I walked to the glacier. It was a nice end to a fantastic day. Pictures and story soon. But I will say this. In the twilight, that stump was not a stump. It was a bear who was as concerned with us as we were with him. We looked at him, he looked at us. We were going different directions at the intersection of trails and none of us made a fuss; I think we all were too tired to.

So, it really is spring. More than a week before the cruise ships arrive.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blue Mussel cabin

We've been to the Blue Mussel Cabin several times, but this was our first overnight trip. The weather report called for snow squalls, a gale warning with gusts to 40 knots, and waves to six feet. I convinced Mr. X to leave the packrafts at home.

We met up with Brad after work and drove out to Bridget Cove State park near the end of the road. Part of the road is dirt and shard because they are still widening it.

The first part of the trail (i.e. 2.5 miles) was covered in snow. After the first mile I put on my yak tracks. We hiked through Cowee Meadow and were met by six or seven swans hanging out near the beaver den.

We took a break at the Cowee Meadow cabin and were greeted by a nice, if territorial, golden retriever.

The going was good until we crested the small hill to the beach. Then the wind hit us and I was ready to make run for the trail through the trees. I was pretty cold. Don't ask me how Mr. X managed. He was wearing his swimsuit.

We hiked along the bluff, through the trees passing lichen and hearing varied thrushes in the bushes. We came upon a windfall and collected firewood - guess we didn't need to carry the two duralogs.

After another twenty minutes we dropped down to the beach near the cabin. The Chesire cat moon and remains of sunset greeted us. The first stars began to glitter in the sky. And yes, there were 6 foot crashing swells.

We all split up doing camp chores. Brad got the fire going right away and Mr. X spent an inordinate amount of time splitting wood with his kukri and newly carved mallet. I unpacked bags and got fresh water coming off the cliffs directly behind the cabin.

After a snack we went out to the front deck and looked at the stars. Brad knows alot of constellations so we spent time looking at Bootes the Bear chaser, Lyra, and many others that I don't recall. We spotted three satelites and noted the light pollution from the Kensington Mine across the water.

About 11:30 I spotted some new lights in the sky and asked Mr. X what they were. Brad confirmed our suspicions that they were northern lights. We watched the white-green lights dance over Berners Bay and the surrounding mountains.

You're really supposed to bring a gallon of diesel #1, but I don't like how that smells in the car and we don't have a place to store a gas can, so we opted to use the "emergency" mini wood stove. You can see the oil stove next to it in this picture.
In the morning, I gazed out the windows at the waves crash on the beach in front of cabin and the brilliantly white Chilkats across the Lynn Canal. Around 8 am, I started a duralog in the stove and got some heat going. Brad and Mr. X took a walk along the beach looking in tide pools. After some chores I followed them around the point, scrambling over the boulders.

With the rough seas we didn't see much in the way of wildlife. Just some eagles and gulls catching the air between the sea and the bluffs.

With that we packed up camp and headed out. By the end of the hike I was pretty much toast. I've got to figure out why I've stopped sleeping on these trips. Otherwise, some of our hiking plans might not work too well this summer.

 If you look close at this picture you, can see the blue mussels on the rocks. They look kinda-purple.