Thursday, August 6, 2015

Waterfalls and Glaciers en route to Red Bluff Bay -- 7/9/2015

Oh, Happy Morning!  The rain has ended, the sky is partly sunny and clearing from the West.  The only boats anchored with us here at Whitney Island are the sailboat nearby and a fishing boat closer to the southern entrance to Cleveland Passage.

The water is like glass, but soon the current brings kelp and rock grass to decorate the surface with an array of what could be taken for yellow chrysanthemums blown in by the wind.  Ray takes Lilly to shore, then visits with some sailors who give him local knowledge on points of interest to the north.  They recommend Endicot Glacier, which we could visit on the way out of Alaska.

At 7:38A we weigh anchor and travel back south to Duck Point for the shortest way out of Cleveland Passage and into Frederick Sound, waving to the sailors, and altering course a bit to give room for a couple of kayakers.

A bald eagle bids us farewell from his perch on a post near an abandoned fox farm.

Our destination today is Red Bluff Bay on Baranof  Island for incredible scenery in a twisting path back into the inlet.

Our brief sunny morning turns to cloudy, but as we enter the Sound, it is beautiful with the sunlight covering the snow fields on the mountain tops.   There is a thick fog bank ahead, but it may dissipate before we reach it. We go west, leaving Kupreanof and Kuiu islands on our port.  Seas are rippled, and there is no traffic in sight.

Inside Turn About Island we look back to see gorgeous sunshine, but looking ahead Nudibranch about to disappear into the fog, which we enter five minutes later. 

This is the first fog we have encountered on this trip.   Approaching the Pinta Rocks, we watch for the warning light that flashes every four seconds.   Of course the Garmin is plotted to go around them, but is is nice to have a visual. 

Ten minutes later the partly cloudy blue sky above drops down in front of us to chase the fog away.  Now I see the light marking the rock, as well as Nudibranch far ahead.  Our sunshine is back!! and we soon get a good view of the glaciers.

                                                     Photo by Ray Perry

A large splash occurs on the starboard side and Herb sees a humpback totally out of the water giving a nice fluke.   And I miss it!!!   We continue our course across Chatham Strait for the 22 mile stretch with no turns that leads us toward Red Bluff Bay, and we are captivated by the glaciers in front of us getting closer and closer.

Nudibranch looks great cruising with the mountains and glaciers in the background, and I can see that Ray is taking photos of Willie's Tug.

The two below are Willie's Tug, courtesy of Ray.

I see a tiny waterfall rolling down the left side of one of the glaciers as its snow melts, then twists to find its way to the sea.  A look through the binoculars reveals the blue ice.  How exciting!

Equally as exciting is a zoom of the camera lens to reveal a house near the falls. I cannot imagine the peacefulness of living there, listening to the sound of rushing water.

Below the waterfall a fisherman in a small boat (who probably lives in that house) tosses out nets for his catch, as his faithful dog sits in back and patiently watches.

Nature's painting the mountainside a reddish rust color gives this area its name.

We glide into the entrance of the bay, winding around many islets and islands.

The first waterfall we cruise by has three vertical lines that at a distance appear to be pipes or cables, but the binoculars show they are flowing waterfalls.  The one on the right is the most vigorous and casts a white shine to a rock as it glances off.

More beauty delights our eyes as we continue to slowly make our way to the anchorage farther in the inlet.

What do I hear?   I also see a beautiful sight of nature with the second waterfall.  

Many rivulets widen out, running here and there, all rolling so fast down the mountainside.  The area at the very top cascades into a basin below for a breathtaking view.  I marvel at the quantity of water that just keeps falling and falling into the bay below.

The literature reviews Red Bluff as perhaps the most spectacular combination of mountains, waterfalls and ice fields in Southeast Alaska.  There are high peaks, a river, and near a drying mud flat is what is known as Bear Meadow. This truly is a popular place, for we see nine boats anchored here when we finally arrive to the head of the inlet.   Because it is crowded, we opt to raft and stern tie, and see two possible places. Nudibranch goes in for the first anchorage and tie.  We drop our hook, then raft together, for an easy visit at dinner.

Ray takes his stern tie ashore.

What a great opportunity to enjoy the settee on Willie’s Tug’s bow to see the incredible scenery in our front yard. We don our sun hats and enjoy the warmth of the sun, as well.  We sit and watch the waterfall for hours; every moment is different.  

Dinghies come and go, especially one with the C-Dory.  Oh, it is not really a dinghy.   Jay of Hunky Dory drives his Mokai over for a visit.  He and Herb have known each other through C-Brats and it is good to meet in person.  The Mokai is a motorized kayak.  He has traveled Southeast Alaska since 2004 with his wife Jolee and gives us much valuable local knowledge on some areas, especially Sitka.  It is very helpful to know there is a bus system in Sitka for some shopping and sightseeing places at a distance of several miles.

He is traveling with Brent and Dixie, whom we have met.

At the end of the day we fall asleep to the sound of rushing, falling water – and hope the brown bears are snoozing, too.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Thursday, July 9, 2015

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