Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Holkham Bay, Stephens Passage

After a wet layover at Sand Bay, I paddled into Holkham Bay amidst a whole group of Humpbacks. The bay had lots of small bergs drifting around, and Sumdum glacier hung over the bay in the background. The view was stunning. And the temperature was chilly. Water temp 44 F; air temp 49 F.

I went over to Harbor Island where a group of kayak rangers are headquartered, and as I coasted the shore, I met 2 groups of kayakers. Tim Johnson and his wife, Vicky had their Kleppers they brought from Maryland and are on something like their 20th trip to the west coast. They were headed up Endicott Arm to avoid the cruise ship traffic in Tracy Arm. Both arms are popular because they have tidewater glaciers calving into the sea. Anyway, we didn't talk long, but they clearly have done some interesting trips that I would have liked to hear more about.

The other group of yakkers were 3 guys from Maine--Bob, Dave and Mike. They had been dropped on Harbor Island by a shuttle boat to be picked up in a week. They were recovering from having made a miscalculation on the tide and had lost 2 bear canisters of food, a life jacket, a paddle (which was later found), and I don't know what all else. But they had successfully scrounged what they needed to keep going, and they, too, were headed up Endicott. They've also done some interesting kayak trips including to the Dalmation Coast north of Dubrovnik and to Viet Nam.

I found the kayak rangers who have a large wall tent and kayak and gear racks all tucked into the bush and totally invisible from the shore or water. The reason I wanted to look them up was to see why there were kayak rangers here at all. Turns out they do similar work as the rangers in Misty Fjords: they contract with cruise ships to come on board and act as interpretive guides. But they also monitor the smoke stack emissions from the ships, and some have resulted in citations for the cruise companies.

I decide against a side trip up Endicott even though that was part of my original plan. I knew barn fever would set in at some point, and I have to admit that I'm feeling it now. Juneau is only 2-3 days away, and in some way, it marks the beginning of the end of the trip for me. Over the years, I had dreamed of paddling to Juneau, and just within the last few months did I decide to go all the way to Skagway because someone told me the scenery is incredible up the Lynn Canal.
So I passed through Holkham Bay amid the frolicking Humpbacks and continued north along the Snettisham Peninsula. The sun is out, the air is warm, and life is good.

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