On Saturday afternoon (July 23), our “Seek Alaska” tour boat carried us into Le Conte Bay through mint-green waters, filled with “bergie bits” and larger icebergs, to a position about 900 feet from the face of the Le Conte Glacier. We passed a glorious waterfall and a large ice floe on which we could see a vast number of black blobs–harbor seals and their very young pups! Our captain allowed the jet boat to drift for a long time so that we tourists could watch the glacier “calve.” (When this occurs, chunks of ice, large and small, break off from the face of the glacier and plunge into the water below, causing a great splash, fountains of spray, and waves that circle out from the glacier’s foot, often with rifle-shot cracks of sound accompanying.) Before beginning our journey back to Petersburg, we visited two stunning coves surrounded by gigantic black granite cliffs down which snow-melt trickled, then bounded, and finally gushed out over rocks and into the sea right at our tour boat’s bow! It was incredibly gorgeous, even on a gray day!
Misty rain began to fall during our return trip. We stopped to glimpse a large whale tale disappearing into the ocean not far away, and to smile at a clump of Steller sea lions lounging about on the base of a marker buoy–their fish smell was rather pungent! We hiked back to Braesail through a soft rain after a day filled with phenomenal sights, and I gave hearty thanks for the opportunity to marvel at God’s spectacular handiwork!
Sunday, July 24, was a dark, wet day as had been predicted. Walt spent it baking bread, reading, and preparing music for our online evening Compline service (singing in real time with others is such a blessing!). I wrote blog posts and email and edited pictures, a very time-consuming process. We both worked on travel plans for the upcoming week, which we expect will include visits to Tracy Arm Fjord (more ice!), Endicott Arm Fjord (yet MORE ice!) a cove called “Ford’s Terror” (named for a sailor who rowed a small boat into the breathtaking anchorage and, when the tide receded, was stranded there for about six hours until the tide rose enough to allow him to make his way back through the rapids to his ship!), Taku Harbor, and Juneau at the end of the week.
It’s now the evening of Monday, July 25, and Braesail is rocking almost imperceptibly at anchor in a sizeable cove between Foot Island and mainland Alaska about 40 miles north of Petersburg. Our 6.5-hour motoring journey began with a visit from a few stray sunbeams that were almost immediately buried in thick fog. We proceeded carefully using radar and AIS, sounding our horn, and keeping a focused watch out for fishing, power, and sailing boats. The fog dissipated after an hour or so, and the remainder of our trip up Stephens Passage was relaxing. While one of us took a turn at the helm, being “on watch” and tracking our progress as the autopilot guided us north, the other napped or read or enjoyed the views of islands and wooded hills. Skies remained overcast, there was no wind, the sea was barely rippled, there were few other watercraft out and about, and the soaring mountain peaks peeped out only now and then from under their fluffy cloud blankets. As we entered the mouth of our cove, we noticed a black object moving through the water from one bank toward the other. It turned out to be a black bear “bear-paddling” across the channel–it was fun to watch such a good swimmer!