GLACIER BAY, OLD ICE NEW LAND PART 2 GLACIER BAY, OLD ICE NEW LAND PART 2 Beardslee Islands near Bartlett

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  • GLACIER BAY, OLD ICE NEW LAND

    PART 2

    Beardslee Islands near Bartlett Cove

    May 24, Monday. High overcast, bear on the tide flats last night. Raised anchor and headed out

    to Tlingit Point to explore Muir Inlet. We viewed a female moose in the edge of the beach and

    forest at the base of Mt Wright. She was stressed looking into the forest, moving out to the

    beach then swimming partly into the straits, staring alertly at the forest edge, then would

    venture back in, then trot back out. Wolves threating her?, or her calf in the woods? She

    disappeared back into the forest.

    Cleared up as we motored past Adams Inlet and approaching Wachusett Inlet. The vegetation

    has changed so much since 1972, with alder advancing up the fjord, and the Muir Glacier having

    receded so many miles and now grounded. Wachusett glacier has also retreated and grounded,

    and changed from a gravel inlet in 1972 with ice face midway to a alder/spruce forest. I hadn’t

    seen this area in 38 years. Bald eagles nest in a spruce on the shore to the north and we finally

    anchored at the end of the bay, that was once covered 25 years ago with ice. The stagnated

    moraines of the Carol Glacier were undulating gravel and boulder ridges. Once on shore, we

    walked along snow-covered beaches and willow thickets and noticed willow and alder catkins

    were out. Yellow and Wilsons warblers were calling, and a sweet call of an unknown bird in the

    thickets. The beach mud and sand bars were full of moose and wolf tracks, and the tracks of a

    small black bear along the mud. The mud flats and gravel outwashes of the river extended for

    miles inland, and I could see plant succession occurring vertically as well as horizontally as you

    moved up the inlet.

    Left Wachusett Inlet on an outgoing tide and anchored off of stump Cove. Mt. Wright and the

    peaks of Adams Inlet are on fire at sunset. Beautiful mauve colors reflecting in the glass like

  • water. Thankyou Lord for another day filled with seeing and experiencing your beautiful

    creation.

    May 25, Tuesday. Calm and clear with a stupendous sunrise., stump cove proved to be a

    wonderful anchorage. Mt. Wright and Mt Case rise dramatically above Adams Inlet and the

    forelands of the Klotz Hills. Bird song filled the still air, the melodies of Hermit or Swainsons

    thrushes, yellow and ruby crowned kinglets. And there was the sound of cascading water

    rushing as streams through succession gullies.

    Motored up Muir Inlet, noticing plant successional stages that now consisted of the pioneer

    Yellow mountain avens Dryas drummundii the last several miles of the inlet, that once was

    covering midbay, that is now an alder spruce forest. Muir of course had grounded, and

    retreated 8 miles since I had seen it in 1972 working as a Park Range. Lots of loons and gulls

    upbay, and the sounds were that of cascading streams and waterfalls pouring out of snow filled

    ridges and cliffs of rock. Lots or rills and highly eroded gullies fresh from glacial emergence. Mc

    Bride had retreated inland and grounded, and the Riggs retreated into its own formed gravel

    moat that formed a small bay, but still spitting out ice.

    We passed south Sealers Island, where we found pairs of mated black oystercatchers, herring,

    mew and glaucous-winged gulls. Back to the alder and spruce forests midbay with a beautiful

    backdrop of Mt Wright and Case Mtn, and the peaks behind the east Muir Inlet. We continued

    past Adams inlet and Mt Wright until we finally anchored off of N Sandy Cove where there were

    several black bear grazing on the beach meadows. Kayaked around a small island in the cove

    and noticed at low tide there was almost no algae at subtidal level and I wondered if this was

    due to the green sea urchin? Grazers, poor substrate? Not sure. Once back on to the boat the

    winds picked up, and created a huge storm cloud of spruce cone pollen. I had read that Sitka

    spruce in certain years synchronizes in pollination. It was amazing as the whole bay looked

    enveloped in a brown smoke-filled cloud that was from the pollen. Black bear came out again

    to graze on the beach, disturbing two Canada geese. It rained lightly for a few hours, then

    stopped.

    May 26 Wednesday. Thankyou again Lord for a good rest and read 1 Peter 1-3 this morning. We

    left sandy cove in the morning to explore the Marble Islands. Again blessed with good weather

    and a glass sea. The islands were covered with pigeon guillemots and gulls. Could hear, then

    smell the Stellers sea lions hauled out on the South Marble Island. There were loud belches,

    roars, growling, and cries and passing the haul out was very stinky. Lots of nesting gulls, pigeon

    guillemots, and tufted puffins, a beautiful place noisy with life. Continued south to Sitakaday

    narrows where we encountered more humpback whales, then once past Point Corolus

    navigated Icy Straits and turned north into Dundas Bay where I was stationed as a park ranger

    in 1972, and where I took the kids in 2001. Warm day in the 70’s. We hit a few strong eddies

  • and currents that rolled and slipped the boat. Once inside the bay, was refreshed by the beauty

    and maturity of the green hemlock and spruce forest and muskegs. I noticed the meadows of

    the Dundas River flats are now overgrown with willows, and spruce has grown and expanded

    since I was here in 1972. Passed the cabin I lived in all summer and still standing on pilings, and

    encountered lots of sea otters and black bear grazing on the emerging beach rye grass. Felt

    good to have someone else navigating through these rocky islets and I could enjoy the view of

    islets, waterfalls, granite cliffs and forests edged with bogs and meadows. Observed more black

    bear one which we watched eating salmon berry leaves, then scratched its back on an alder.

    Anchored at the head of the inlet where I did with the rented Nordic Tug 9 years ago in 2001.

    Such a beautiful place with good memories with the kids here. Walked to the same giant rock

    that the kids and I rested at, still covered with moss and lichens. Once on top, realized that

    there was a black bear feeding 50 feet from us undetected. Another bear was feeding on

    mussels another 100 feet out towards the inlet stream. The bear next to us finished grazing on

    beach grass, then moved over to the intertidal to pry open mussels on rocks with its claws then

    gnaw at them with its teeth. Wonderful clear day and evening is coming soon. Slight north

    wind, good to relax with no bugs this time remembering how the kids were bitten all over by

    mosquitoes and a small black fly. We are blessed and alone, but I am missing my family: Philip,

    Bekah, Ethan and Clara who I wish I could bring them back. Back on the boat sitting on the bow

    overlooking calm glass water, looked over the bay and enjoyed a quiet pastoral scene, and a

    bear emerged to graze on a nearby meadow. Waterfalls flowing hundreds of feet through shear

    granite cliffs and walls. It’s a beautiful place here that brought back good memories. God has

    truly blessed me to return again.

    May 27, Thursday. Dundas Bay was clear this morning, and the water mirrored a glass

    reflection of the mountains; breathtaking. Anchored mid Dundas bay on an outgoing tide and

    kayaked at a wonderful group of islets. Heard hermit thrushes, and paddled across through

    several passages on a glass surface, covered with spruce pollen that swirled on top of the

    currents. Came up to female sea otter with her young on her belly, allowing me to get very

    close while she periodically raised her head floating on her back to get a better view of our

    intentions. A curious harbor seal followed my boat, approaching me sometimes as close as 10

    feet from my stern, pausing to bob up and stare at me, then slip back under the turquoise

    green sea. The seal was with me ½ hour enhancing the beautiful day in one of my favorite

    places to kayak in the world. Peaceful, waterfalls cascading all around us, birdsong, silence.

    Four harbor porpoises swam close to us, feeding as they moved swiftly along the surface,

    exhaling and inhaling, then gone. There had been Dall’s porpoise here yesterday as we entered

    the bay.

  • We left Dundas in clear weather towards Chichigof island where we could see the Fairweathers

    to the north: Mt Crillon and Mt Bertha. Encountered three humpback whales feeding off shore,

    lunge feeding for krill, then rest on their sides expelling water from their baleen. Crossed over

    to Pt Adolphus and encountered more humpbacks but the krill was concentrated about 350

    feet down where they had to dive deep. One whale breached, while another spy hopped.

    Wonderful to watch young sea lions porpoising right next to the whales, with sounds of their

    exhalation resembling a blasting trumpet or a low-pitched tuba. Weather hot in the 70’s.

    Anchored off Spasski Harbor on northern Chichigof Island.

    May 28 Friday. Left Spasski Harbor for Juneau, passing more humpback whales, another that

    breached. We visited Admiralty bay on Admiralty Island and explored the beaches filled with

    flowered meadow