Thursday, 2 November 2017

Gigha - via Alaska - Ping 2

Zeigler Cove
Well after our rather chaotic day and a bit before, it was so good just to sink into bed. I even forgot we were in bear country! Next morning, we found that Paul has stayed up til high tide, watching how close the water came in.

Breakfast eaten, lunch and snacks organised, otters watched, we were ready for another days paddling, aiming for Hobo bay, that's not to say we looked like Hobos, well not yet! As we got on the water we were watched by another couple of Bald Eagles, just 2 of approx 20 that day!
Looking up College Fiord
 Getting the hang of the sheer vastness of the area took a bit of getting used to, the air seemed so clear and no rubbish, well apart from a rusty old truck on a beach in the middle of absolutely no where! There were quite alot of granite mines in the past here. Lots of whale "splooshes" far off.
Hobo Bay

Or just Hobo's?
Having made it to Hobo Bay and after lots more humming and hoeing about how far up the tide would come, we eventually camped for the evening and listened to "Ping!", yes our tent pole had snapped - again! Scrounging a sleeve, we got that sorted and taped up and settled for the evening.
Passing Harrison Lagoon
Next morning, we were going to be heading up into the glacier area which we had been looking at for so long. When we stopped for lunch, Ken decided on a spot of fishing, managing to catch an ugly brute, an Alaskan rockfish!
Ken fishing

Ugly brute!

Approaching Point Doran

Cascade Glacier

We were now being met by "bergy bits", small chunks of ice.  Turning the corner gave us the chance to really feel as though we were out in the wilds. The whole area seemed so peaceful, except now and again there would be a big rumble, another chunk of ice falling off one of the many glaciers in this fiord. The water had turned an almost tropical colour, beautiful blue, but cloudy with sediment. It really was a stunning area.

We had hoped to camp beside a tidal flat about 5 miles up from the start of the Harriman Fiord, however once we arrived, we found that someone else was camping there. This was a commercial group who had set up here. They had been brought in with a water taxi, had their tents put up for them, while they go off for a wee paddle. The mess they left was shocking. Having admired the cleanliness of the area earlier, this place had rubbish lying around which could quite easily blow away, with bags of open food, in an area known for bears! We carried on a little bit further, but there were more campers - who would have thought, out in the wilds, there would be other folks! so on we paddled and found a lovely beach - all to ourselves.

Beach looks huge, not huge enough!
Once again the tide line was checked, once again there was going to be a lack of beach, however there was a bit of a dip behind the beach which we settles on. Had it been the next day, when we were full on springs, I'm not so sure that patch would have stayed dry! We even had baths at this sight, well some of us had a dip in the river - very refreshing!

Glacial waters

Up and close

Me 'n' He and Harriman
Next morning, off we set, further up the Harriman Fiord. There weren't so many Bald Eagles in this area and still no bear sightings, but a tiny Rufous Hummingbird was spotted. Again the clarity of the air  was surprising, making it hard to judge distance. The Harriman Glacier looked to be within touching distance from our camp, but was still easily 7 miles away. We eventually made it up to what we thought was a safe distance, then saw a tiny boat further up. This boat wasn't that tiny, just still far off, so we jumped back in the kayaks to get a bit closer. We were actually able to get out the boats round the corner a bit from the glacier and walk over to it.

The Mob

Quite a magnificent sight and absolutely enormous! - and noisy, with chunks falling continuously. Back in the boats, we cut across the bay and headed back down the other side, passing Surprise Glacier, quite an active one!
Spot the boat!

Matches my boat!
If you couldn't see the glaciers, you would still know they were around, apart from the colour of the water, the air changed. Between glaciers, it was really quite warm, as you neared the glaciers, the air got decidedly chilly.

 We stopped for lunch just down a bit, not too peaceful. There was an American Oystercatcher claiming this beach as his. They are just like our Oystercatchers but bigger (of course!), all black and just as noisy!

Trying to make icecream!

Our next stop was Point Doran, then across Barry Arm, being accompanied by more otters.
My favourite otter pic!
The Bald eagles were also returning to us. We eventually made it to Pakenham Point. A very thin stretch of land being guarded by 2 magnificent Bald Eagles.
 Once again, the tide line was examined, once again we were camping on the thin, if not slightly overgrown stretch of grass. We were very late having dinner, it had been a long days paddling, 42k, but as the light never completely went, it didn't feel like a midnight feast instead of just dinner. We were watching the water levels carefully tonight as this was springs and boy, did the water rise! See the photos!
After midnight, tide still coming in!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Gigha - via Alaska - Ping 1

Up high, way up high!

It seemed ages ago when David said Alaska! and I said Oooh!
After some to-ing and fro-ing, the time had come to head for the airport. Bags packed, car loaded and boats on the roof - yes, boats were on the roof  and yes, we were going to Alaska! and no, we were not paddling the whole way!
Our group of 8, David, Paul, Graham, Susan, Elaine, Fiona, Ken and myself met up for the flight over.
Out shopping

We were met at the airport by Turnagain Kayaks' Levi, he then took us to REI to buy our gas, then onto the supermarket for 10 days food. That would be all well and good, except, buying food in a strange supermarket at the equivalent of 4am in the morning, having been on the go since the crack of dawn the previous morning is no fun. We did eventually emerge, managed to find a pizza for tea - or was it breakfast, possibly supper - who knows? After we'd been driving for a while we passed a huge moose with a young one - our first Alaskan wildlife! A little further along, there was a black bear wandering along the road, next thing we turned off the road. We had arrived in Hope at our chalet for the night, right next to the bear!
A gathering of Ikea bags!

 Now it was time to unpack everything, just to repack it all for paddling. I spent a while re bagging food into meals and portions. Last thing I wanted was to run out of food miles from civilisation! Don't think Ken would have been too chuffed either!
We eventually made our way to bed, knackered but completely out of sync with local time. Surprisingly I managed up the next morning as usual (which means - feed me and give me coffee!). All the bags were loaded into the trailer. We had picked our boats (mine was a Cetus, happy with that), brought our own BA's and paddles and we were ready for our adventure.
It was quite a distance to get from Hope up to Whittier, the journey included an interesting tunnel. The 2.5 mile Whittier tunnel is shared with trains, with cars driving along the tracks,  but is just single tracked so it's run on a timetable, there would be nothing worse than meeting a train head on!
Eventually all boats were loaded, just one last thing to do before setting off. Whittier is a tiny end of the line town, with not alot there, however, there was an extremely good icecream shop so that's where we headed!
Icecream!!! Yum!

Me 'n' He

Fully filled with icecream, off we set. The weather was a bit overcast, but not cold, perfect paddling weather! It was great being out with snowcapped mountains all around and the Learnard Glacier behind us on one side and Whittier glacier on the other.

We made our way out to Decision Point, passing the first of many bald eagles, before cutting over to Pigot Point where we spent our first night. We were greeted here by the first of our sea otters - lovely!

An otter or two

 We were soon to find out that getting campsites was not going to be as easy as in Scotland.  We were travelling in spring tides, so by the time that was taken into consideration, there wasn't much/no beach above the tide line. There was just a small strip of grass before extremely dense vegetation. The area is a rainforest, the trees were all thickly covered in moss.
Even the trees have fur coats

 We camped on the thin grass strip when there was a "ping". One of our tent poles had snapped!!! New sleeve over the pole, all was well again. We then went to try tying our food bags up to keep them away from bears. We were soon to find that was easier said than done! Nothing quite like being on a learning curve! Pulleys would have been handy! So tents up, boats parked neatly along the grass verge, it was time for dinner, it was really late by now and what with time differences, I was dead beat and couldn't be bothered cooking, so out came our first dried meal, it was also our last, don't know how Paul lasted on them for every meal.

Neat parking