Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sights and Sounds of Kake, Alaska -- plus Halibut!!! -- 7/25/2015

I wake and struggle to remember where I am – oh, yes -- Kake, Alaska.  All is quiet, and we slept peacefully through the night.  No more family 'discussions' on the dock.  I look out to see water like glass and the snow atop the mountains on Baranof Islands glistening in the sunlight. 

Very early the local fishermen begin their day, going out in the skiffs.  So considerate, they walk quietly down the ramp and dock and our first awareness of them is when we hear the motor as they speed away.  The thick bank of fog is above, with the thinner layer below, so it should not interfere with his vision.

The next traffic of the morning is the Baranof Ferry, gliding down to the ferry dock south of the City Dock.  She stays for a few hours before making her return back to Sitka.

There is really no more dock space here at the City Dock for large vessels, so when I see a sailboat coming our way, I expect she will want to raft to us.   Herb goes out to greet him and learns he will be here on the float plane dock for a few minutes while his wife goes up to get ice from the liquor store.

The man tells Herb they have no refrigeration on the boat, and with two grandchildren, are heading to Sitka from Ketchikan, where they keep the boat.  Home is California.  The young boy is an expert at tying up the boat.

Around noon a kind gentlemen comes in from fishing and offers us a halibut filet.  I cannot believe this!  Yes, indeed, we will accept it.  He says we should keep our camera handy to watch the eagles devour what he threw on the float plane dock.  We watch for a time and no eagles come, so we decide we should take a walk to check out Portage Bay Marina farther south and determine if it will be a calmer spot when the winds kick up Sunday night and Monday.  We know it is a long way, but plan to enjoy the exercise.  As we leave, a local lady comes to tell us she has fresh bread to sell, and we ask her to come back in late afternoon.

The road takes us across a bridge over Gunnuk Creek, where we get our thrill for the day.   Salmon are jumping in the stream, just a short distance from the City Dock.  There must be hundreds of them.

We stand on the bridge to get photos and note that they are on both sides of the bridge, but the eagles are only on the east side.      Why???

I count nine eagles on the fallen tree, and the photo below it shows many in the trees.  All the white 'dots' are bald eagles.

Many Bald Eagles in the Trees

Other sites we see --

Gift Shop

Low Tide, Grave and Payne Islands in Distance
Progress is being made by the fire department, which is placing the new fire hydrants along the highway to replace the old ones.

While cruising, we have come to instantly recognize the sound of a float plane, but now hear the roar of a much larger plane going to the Kake Airport.  I wonder if Alaska Air flies here. 

Hotel Adjacent to the Super Market

Walking to the End of the Road
One of the most beautiful sights to me on our summer cruise has been the pale lemon yellow or cream colored Witches' Hair moss draping gracefully on bare tree branches.  I learn the moss, which is actually a lichen, has long been used by the Northwest Natives as a source of fiber for diapers and bandages.  It was used on dance masks as false hair, and ponchos and footwear were woven from it, although it is inferior to hides for that purpose.

Witches' Hair on Old Stump Roots

At Happy Hour we grab our jackets and sit in the cockpit to enjoy the village scenery.  Soon a skiff we have not seen glides up to the dock and hesitantly looks for a place to tie off.  A young man rides down the ramp on a four wheeler.  Hmmm….  He is followed by a lady dragging a tub, which they fill with the fisherman’s catch of the day.  We scurry around to visit and watch her count 58 Sockeye.  The four wheeler is loaded with gear and fish and makes its way back up the ramp – slowly – and I hold my breath while I mentally push him up, up, up. 

Herb says, “Never fear, Willie, that machine will climb.”   (I am reminded of how many years ago we rode ours up the side of the dam on the pond at the blueberry farm.)

58 Sockeye

Our dinner tonight is the halibut another local fisherman gave us earlier today.  Yummy – my favorite fish, and Herb prepares it so well.



After dinner we are thrilled to hear the songs of the many eagles as they fly in for the treats left on the float plane dock.  We sit quietly inside so as not to scare them off, and see one pick up the halibut skin with his talons.  The photo shows the motion of the feet.

He stands still a few seconds with his foot still on the halibut, turns to check his surroundings, and then begins to peck away for his dinner.  He is soon joined by three others, one of which appears spotted and I am not sure if it is an eagle. I later learn the spotted one is a young bird.   With the fish consumed, they stay for a few more minutes before flying away.

As the supply of fish dwindles, the eagles compete for food, and I actually see an adult take part of a carcass from the young bird.  I hope it is not his mother!  If so, perhaps she is teaching him to fight for survival.

Mottled Feathered Immature Eagle 

Mary C has told us about seeing bears fishing at a creek, so at dusk we walk back to Gunnuk Creek hoping to see some.  There are no bears tonight.

The remaining light of 8:30 in the evening dances on the water and we enjoy seeing so many salmon swimming below us.

High Tide

(Stats:  From the City Dock past the supermarket to Portage Bay Marina is 3.5 miles, back to the supermarket is 1 mile, then 2.5 miles more to rest our feet at Willie's Tug.  The walk at dusk is short, so we call it 1 mile.  Equals eight miles total.   A nice change from sitting in the boat most of a day while cruising.)

It’s a good day, and we are so happy to have found Kake, Alaska.

Find Willie's Tug -- again....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, July 25, 2015

1 comment:

  1. Robert BrouilletteNovember 7, 2015 at 2:17 PM

    Cool brings back childhood memeries Bob B Barrow