We awoke to sunshine and another stunning panorama of mountains stretching into eternity. Bear Track cove was our starting point for today’s paddle with our guide Sarah. Water was rolling swells with a slight head wind. The original plan had been to do mainly kayaking with a walk after lunch. However, the swell around the headland was apparently presenting whitecaps which was beyond the comfort level of the others, so we beached for a snack bar and potty stop, and went for a short walk inland – very swampy and boggy but amazingly soft mosses were everywhere. At one point we stopped and enjoyed laying on the soft ground. Chris even dozed off!
Were hoping to sight moose and bear since they are known to be common in this area (hence the name of the cove). We saw no mammals today other than the occasional curious sea lion looking at us before diving again. We did see plenty of birds which Sarah was generally able to identify for us. Am hoping to see a Puffin, but thus far have been unsuccessful. After the bog walk – with plenty of bear and moose warning calls – we were back in the kayaks and headed further up towards the headland to have a peek around the corner. However it was not to be – Sarah decided to turn around before we quite made it – so we beached further back where we’d sailed past and enjoyed lunch in the sun.
We’ve had the most amazing weather today – stiff wind, but clear, blinding, warm sun all day. The mountain ranges have all been clearly visible for the first time this trip – white jagged peeks folding back into ever higher giants – one chain after another- begging to be explored (and in many cases, named). I didn’t mind the lack of wild life – the nature more than made up for it. The photo below (again from Mr. Zhang) gives an idea of what it was like.
Our paddle back to the boat was parallel to rolling one meter swells. The kayaks are like fat bathtubs so no risk of tipping. Apparently not everyone enjoyed the return trip equally. Compared to what we’ve routinely paddled in NZ oceans, this was small chop (pardon the pun) so we breezed in despite a stuck rudder.
Some of the crazier crew and passengers decided to go for a swim. I say crazier because the water was the temperature of a glass of water with ice cubes in it. They assembled on the rear dock, and then with a shout jumped into the water—they were out of it again before you could count to three. Lynne’s face was a picture of pain, but she and two others jumped in a second time!
After gorging ourselves on the fourth round of food for the day – and with everyone back on board – we sailed for South Marble Island which is a rookery and a sea lion colony – or at least a bachelor club. As usual the wind up on deck was a killer, so Chris manfully put up with it for about five minutes while I opened a window in the lounge and kept myself warm. Could still enjoy the sounds of the birds and the smells of the sea lions. There were some absolutely huge old males – mountains of brown blubber. Birds were mainly sea gulls (apparently there is no such thing) and cormorants. Puffins were rumored, but not spied by myself anyway.
From there we sailed to Glacier Bay Lodge and park headquarters at Bartett Cove. Arrived around 20:30 hrs and disembarked in this beautiful tree covered cove. Park vessels and private boats were bopping at anchor – it’s very restricted the number of boats permitted in Glacier Bay National Park in any one day. Something like two cruise liners, three charter boats, and 20 private boats.
We walked this amazing forest trail which took us through swamps full of dead trees, moss covering every available surface, and Old Man’s Beard hanging in swaths off branches. A trolls world of intrigue. The sun began to set as we came up to the lodge, so we were able to catch a truly gorgeous sunset from the balcony – out over the bay with snow capped peaks in the background. The peace (mana) of that place was truly special. We were back on board by 22:30 and the boat then spent much of the night sailing to our next destination.
Every morning I’ve woken with the thought that today couldn’t possibly be any better than yesterday, but thus far, it has been. I would have loved to spend more time hiking at the Park Headquarters, but then something else would have been missed out, and I don’t like that idea either.
I’m sleeping surprisingly well, and poor Chris is still struggling. He’s on the lower bunk now which apparently is an improvement in terms of noise and light.
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