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Alaska – Part 2

Continuing where we left off the first episode at the end of Day 2 we arrived at Ford’s Terror where we were not alone.  As we approached our anchorage for the evening, another boat was already there – crowded!

We went for another walk near narrows on a rising tide.  We had no problems landing from the dingy on a pebble beach – after our walk, and after the tide rose a bit more, we had more problems getting back onto the dingy as there was no beach left.

The walk was very nice – and we did not see bears, maybe because Kristin kept yelling “Hey Bear” – I have already shown you a picture of Kristin fully equipped for our defense, but she took no chances.

We were walking through beautiful scenery – this is a view of Ford’s Terror from land.

Time for portraits!  Behind is the narrow inlet that leads to the rest of the bay.  With the rising tide, the water was violently flowing making a roar, which you cannot really see or hear on this picture.

More spectacular views along the way

I liked this little pond reflecting the mountains and trees.

At the end of the walk, as we were wainting for the dingy to take us back to Catalyst, we saw a few curious harbor seals

Later in the evening, when the tide reached its highest point, we took a dingy ride around the whole bay and into West Arm Anchorage. Unfortunately it was raining the whole time so there are no pictures of that.

The following day, however, as we were making our way towards the other end of the inlet, we could see the result of all the rain from the previous day.  There were water falls everywhere and some were quite abundant.  The goal for the morning was Dawes Glacier which comes dawn all the way into the water.  As we approached the glacier, there were more and more icebergs and navigation became tricky at times.  Fortunately, Catalyst is equipped with Iron-Wood planks at the front and therefore a glancing blow on a small iceberg was not going to sink us.

The residual low clouds from the rain yesterday also provided very nice views of the surrounding mountains.

The face of the glacier is spectacular and much bigger and taller than I thought.  It completely hides the rest of the glacier once we get close enough.

We stayed in front of the glacier waiting for calving for quite some time and saw a lot of action.

There was a waterfall right next to the glacier and we stopped there for a few photos.  Here is a family shot by Kristin.

It is very difficult to catch the calving as the ice starts to fall.  We could hear the noise, but a few seconds after it actually occurred due to the distance and by that time the main thing that was visible was the splash that resulted from all the falling ice.  In the case, the ice was flowing for quite some time and I was able to capture a few shots.

Here is another big splash – but I was too late to catch the pieces actually falling.

However, since I have a lot of views of the glacier, I was able to put together a “before” and “after” picture.  On the left is what this section of the glacier looked like just before the ice came off.  On the right what is left after, or actually during.  If you look carefully, you can see that there is a huge piece of ice missing.

This is the end of an event that Kristin was able to capture on video.  I suggest that you turn up the volume when you watch this – thanks Kristin.


Michael took the dingy to get some chunks of ice that were floating near our boat.  This is one of them – you can barely see it as it is almost completely transparent.  Ice that has been compressed for hundreds of years probably and is almost purely crystalline.

We lingered on the face of the glacier for quite some time.  We had spotted one large piece angling precariously and were all hoping that it would fall down.  Unfortunately, no such luck and in order to get to our next stopping point in daylight, Paul had to take the difficult decision to move away from the glacier.

Dave and I stayed in the back of the boat and suddenly we saw from a great distance a huge crash – we never heard it.

Again, the “before” and “after” shot shows clearly that the hanging piece of ice was then gone.

We spent the night at Wood Spit after a very nice first experience of sea kayaking.  I had done it once before in New Zealand on a two day expedition to Doubtful Sound.  My dad had tried on a pond when he was 10 – so this was going to be an adventure.  I did not take a camera so all the next photos came from Kristin.

We picked an excellent day for this adventure – with the clouds and the occasional sun, the scenery was particularly spectacular.

Bee was sharing her Kayak with Kristin so most of the pictures are of the back of her head. Not this one.

We paddled most of the time, bur there were opportunities to relax as well.

Overall a very satisfying end to the afternoon – we had dinner and then went to bed tired but happy as always on this trip.

The next day we woke up in fog, or actually very low clouds which made the views around us even more interesting and spectacular than before.  Islands appeared out of nowhere, and only showed small portions of their totality.  The wake of the boat creates an even better image.

This is not a mistake!  Sea at the bottom, cloud at the top and a sliver of island in the middle

Fishing boats are still out, as well as birds who seem to prefer to fly just inches over the water.

I like the reflections on this group.

This is a cruise ship that went into the Endicott Arm just as we were leaving.  The captain complained over the radio that he had not seen the water since he left Juneau.

We heard a lot of whales while we were sailing, but initially did not see them.  Only when they were really (really) close did we spot quite a few.  This is my best shot of blowholes as the whale is inhaling before a dive.

Tails, Tails and more Tails

A complete sequence.  We got to be good at telling when a whale was about to dive

I like this one because of the amount of water that is actually flowing off the tail.

More tails… sorry

.. and a good blow

A little bit later, as we were sailing up the Seymour Canal we spotted a different fin – Orcas or Killer Whales.  They were not particularly threatening to us.  I have since learned that the curve fin is that of a male.

This was a whole family with the female having a straighter fin and the smaller fin belonging to an infant.

I think there are four of them on this picture.

Orca and scenery

We never saw much more of them than this.  They were peacefully swimming by us, taking regular breaths.

The water was like glass – there was no wind – and reflected the scenery and clouds all around us.

I took this panorama with 6 separate photos.

As you might guess, I am rather happy with this one, which is why I decided to make it bigger and higher resolution than the others.

But in my mind, this one here is even better!  This may become the cover for my 2020 Calendar.

Next adventure will be a close encounter with bears – everybody survived!

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