Friday, July 06, 2007

Glacier Bay:Day Two

We awoke to a crystal clear morning. We could see mountains off to one side of our camp and the Beardslee Islands off to the other. It was a far better setting to eat breakfast and enjoy a cup of joe than any coffee shop I can imagine.
We finished breaking camp and launched about an hour and a half before low tide. It was a chore to lug the kayaks, and all of our gear, from their perch above the high-tide line. The beach was not muddy so we had sure footing. Having experienced long slogs through mud while kayak camping in Maine, I know first hand how much a slog through sucking mud with gear can drain the fun out of car full of clowns.
Our plan for the day was to head west and paddle along the outside of the Beardslee Islands in the hope of spotting whales. We saw plenty of breathtaking mountain views, some wild life, and a lone tent, but no whales.
The paddling was relaxing and didn't feel too stressful. I tried to use the rudder on my kayak at first, but again grew frustrated with it. I pulled it up and vowed not to use it again for the rest of the trip. The kayak tracked well so I didn't have to do much course adjusting. The kayak was also surprisingly responsive for a barge. I could turn it without too much effort if I needed. Without being able to find a solid foot hold, I wasn't confident in leaning or bracing. Fortunately conditions did not require either.
We stopped for a quick lunch a rocky beach looking out across the Bay to Willoghby Island and Berg Bay. Lunches where were H's bear can key fell short. We had done a good job of marking down which cans had the dinner's, the toiletries, and lunch/snacks for H and I. We had not done such a good job with the B's lunch/snacks or with morning food. So, we resorted to opening up all of the unidentified cans to find food (we did not update the key as we went along). This is a huge no-no in bear country. You are encouraged to only have out the food you need and leave everything else locked down. We were on an island far away from the mainland - what was the chance we'd see a bear?

After lunch, we headed back into the safety of the Beardslee Islands. There was some concern that the currents along the outside of the islands could get treacherous. Discretion being the better part of valor, we decided to forgo better whale spotting opportunities for group safety.
The paddle among the islands was leisurely. We took plenty of breaks to check out seals, eagles, and the scenery.
After 10 miles of paddling, we left the Beardslee Islands and entered Beartrack Cove. We were growing tired, there was an ominous squall brewing to our west, and much of the coast to the north closed due to bear activity. We decided that it was a good time to make camp. PB checked out a spot at the entrance to the cove and initially thought it looked promising. LB, who has the most experience with bear country camping, looked it over and wasn't sold. We moved into the cove a little further, and the Bs (no relation) checked out another spot. It was less promising than the first location. They checked out a third site without luck before settling on a spot at the very entrance to the cove.

The site was perfect. It was lightly treed, had a great view, and plenty of dry tent sites. We set our tents a little further apart than on day one. H and I were feeling more comfortable about bear encounters. LB then told us that moose were actually more dangerous than bears and that there were plenty of moose signs about...
While we were settling in to camp, two men in a double kayak pulled up on our beach. They wanted to let us know they had seen a bear heading up the shore towards our site. PB came up to tell H and I about the bear approach and we all moved down to the beach. The visitors told us about there travails:
They had been accosted by a satanic oyster catcher the previous night. Their every attempt to find fresh water had been stymied by bear sightings. They had been unable to find a spot to camp and were pooped.
Since there was plenty of room on our point, we invited them to set up camp near-by. They were pleasant and kept to themselves.
We set about eating LB's yummy burritos. As we ate the wind died down, the squall dissipated, and the animals came out to play. There were a few sea otters feeding and playing. There were a few seals frolicking about. A pod of Stellar sea lions buzzed our camp.
We kept hearing a loud honking sound. Initially, we thought it was the sea lions. Later, LB said that it might be a whale with a cold. When we saw a few blows in the far distance, we knew it was a whale. This stoked our hope that we'd see some whales while we were kayaking.
Just after dinner, the visitors stopped by to saw there was a bull moose feeding over near their camp. We all rushed over to check it out. The moose was very impressive and undisturbed by his audience. Before long, he moved into the woods and out of view.
A few hours later, after enjoying a fire built out of soggy driftwood, we got ready for bed and started repacking the bear canisters for the night. As H and I cleared the knoll separating the can cache from the beach I spotted the moose again. he was feeding in a clearing about fifty yards away. We, quietly, called the Bs (no relation) over and watched the majestic beast munch.
For PB's take on the day read Kayaking Adventures:Glacier Bay Day 2.

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