Friday, May 16, 2014

Berner's Bay

Saturday we took a long awaited rafting trip.We saw whales, sea lions, seals, an otter, eagles, moose scat, and then we put the boats in the water.

Berner's Bay is billed as one of the most bio-diverse areas of Southeast. There are goats, bears, moose, wolves, sea lions, whales, porpoises, etc., etc.. At the head of the bay is the estuary of three glacier fed rivers - Antler, Lace and Berner - which dump vast quantities of glacial silt and also support the wildlife and spawning grounds for eulichan, a herring-like fish that animals of all kinds love to eat.

We paddled our way up Berner's bay from Echo cove, watching the hundreds of scoters take flight in front of us. I celebrated the bonaparte gulls, Mr. X thought the tiny marbled murrelets were adorable. I was astounded by the cormorant flying by, Mr. X asked if that was a "fraggle bird", yep. A horned grebe. We both were sorry that the seal back-floating peacefully next to us decided we were a threat.

At the half way point we pulled out to take a water break and a sea lion crossed in front of us, then a humpback whale. We then headed back out, clinging to the eastern shore of the bay. Nearly to the mud flats, we saw some rushing waterfalls and stopped to get the breeze thrown off. Mr. X's boat spun around and he said, "Hey, there's the cabin". Sure enough, the Berner's Bay forest service cabin hugs a hill not too far south the mudflats.

We paddled to the flats and hauled out. Finding a dry spot on the white sand we sat down on our own deserted isle for a relaxed lunch in the sun. While we waited for lunch to cook, the outgoing tide lapped gentle waves on the sand, a humpback whale trolled and arctic terns bathed in the sun warmed puddles dissolving into the sand. 

Knowing tide waits for no man, we packed back up, and paddled south to the Berner's Bay cabin for a quick peek. There are some good tenting sites in the trees behind the cabin.

By now the wind had picked up and the tide wasn't really helping us make headway. At the 3.5 mile mark the previously glassy seas grew to 1 - 2 feet and we were bobbing around like rubber duckies. Mr. X's progress reports were depressing and I wondered if we were going to have to take cover on a beach. It was particularly distressing when kayaks in the opposite direction glided by effortlessly (kayak envy anyone?). Then it started raining, which I assure was not in the forecast.

Finally we rounded the last point and pulled out of the water, packed up and hiked to the car, so glad for the two mile extension of the road which saved us another hour of paddling.

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