Saturday, June 24, 2017

Return to Bellingham

 Its been a nice summer so far up in Alaska, but I am now on break.
Can you see what's wrong with this picture?  Its turned sideways!
  Some aspects of the WEX have been difficult for me and it is nice to be out of the mix for a little while and free to do what I want.  but I'm not actually free to do much because I'm in the airport waiting for a flight and then another and I am tired and want to sleep.  Maybe I am free to take a nap, but instead I am writing.  Read on, dear reader...
We've had a huge return of the crew; most of the guide team, most of the deck force, and nearly all the managers.  Except the captain.  And since in the years past, the captain had things done a certain way, everyone on this boat was used to it being done that way.  This year it is done differently.  We've got a new captain and we are all learning his ways, and I am not too much of a fan of those ways (probably because I'm not used to them).  So there is a lot of tension onboard the boat while we all try to figure out how to manage.  In fact, the break system is the perfect way for people to relax and let tension go, so I hope that when I return I will return to a happier boat.
The past week was really quite nice.  We went through Glacier bay, and got a view of the fairweathers
 And I went to see the Tribal house, and here is a shot of the outside of it.  It is wonderfully smelling cedar and in the evening sunshine it is warm and inviting.

 After Glacier Bay we went to the Inian islands.  I love them.  Here's some Pigeon Guillemonts with their red feet sitting on some rocks in the rain.  Lovely.
 And the Tufted Puffins have also arrived at the Inian islands, so I got a nice shot of this one.
 Also a friendly sea otter.
 And some frisky Stellar Sea Lions

 After that we saw some Bubblenetting Humpback whales!
 And then we went to Kalinin bay, and I did a hike over the hill to Sea Lion Cove, where there is a wonderful sandy beach.  I went for a swim in the coastal ocean, and caught a wave, but it was very cold, so I came back quickly.  Still, I was in the water for about 3 minutes and that was pretty long for me.  People tend to leave stuff on the beach and squirrels come and raid their packs, so I got a shot of this one as it was testing to see if I was good to eat.

 Then we came to the Magoun Islands for the last day and looked at eagles.
 And Bears.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Eastern and Western Coves

 Another two weeks done, and I'm back in Juneau.  I completed the Eastern and Western Coves trips, which go to and from Ketchikan, and I like those trips a lot.  Its always hard to say which is my favorite, but I really like going to Tracy arm and Endicott, and that is what we did.  We also went to Ford's Terror, and how I like that place!  I saw a Trumpeter swan.
And a bunch of Harbor Seals on the ice.
Endicott had a lot more ice in it than I am used to.  The glacier had retreated a lot since the year before, and there were huge chunks of ice floating around and signs of lots more to come.  I fear for the longevity of the ice there.
 Then we went to Baird Glacier, and found some Harlequin Ducks.  In dawes, I took a skiff way way up the river and into the glacier lake that is forming as the glacier retreats from its old terminal moraine.  Previously this lake was not accessible, but the ice dams have broken enough to allow passage in now.  and so I went in, and drove around and found it to be vast and wonderful.  
 Near the brother's Islands we found Sea Lions
 And a Loon
 And in Shrimp and Klu bay I found baby harbor seals next to their mama.
 And a black bear in a meadow.
 And an unhappy eagle
 and one of my fellow guides, Dan.
 One of the things I love the most about the Eastern coves trip is going into Misty Fjords and in there there is a tiny little hidden cove that I call fern gully and it has the most wonderful drips...
 And a few mergansers.
 Then we started the Western Coves, and started out with a bang.  We saw Orcas three times this week and had nice sea lions to begin.  This one has something dangly hanging on and I cant figure if it is testicles or penis.  Testicles seem like they should be inside, right?  Maybe it is neither.  For a marine mammal, it makes sense to keep stuff inside and out of the cold.
 Our second orcas were a transient pod and I think they were finishing up eating something when we came upon them.

 And a humpback in the kelp kept us happy in Fredrick Sound.
 Along with a small group of Brants
 And I got a nice close-up of a Jaeger!
 Then we went to Sanborn Canal, and I did an all day hike up the river there.  Last year I did a long hike with Danny, and we paddled up until we couldn't paddle anymore and then walked a long way, but the tide was lower this time, so we got dropped off and walked the tide flat for a while before coming to the grass.  Then in the meadow we tromped along with eyes open until we found a moose coming the other direction.  We found a good spot to look from and the moose came along and we got a nice close view, from about 100 yards.  It finally saw us and then looked back and then went along its moosey way.  I love them.  They are so weird looking and big.  It was a nice week and I have one more until I am on break.  Alaska is nice, but also cold.  There was fresh snow yesterday in Tracy Arm for us, and I was driving around the skiffs in sleet.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Glacier Bay the second

 Back in Juneau, and the second time through Glacier Bay was a real treat.  We saw a ton of bears, and in fact enough bears all week that the folks on my bushwack yesterday were more interested in the wildflowers that we were walking though than looking at a black bear that was walking along on the beach a couple hundred yards away from us.  I was keeping my eye on the bear though.
I got a nice shot of a skiff tour streaking along at speed...
 And some Pigeon Gillemonts with their red mouths open..
 A Puffin with nesting material..

 A baby (and lonely) merganser
 and a mouse!  This mouse was fearless, and came right up to the whole group, in broad daylight.  I think it was crazy or had rabies or something.  We didn't touch it.
 A skiff tour with bears
 And bubblenetting humpback whales!
 The wind was also good for flying a kite near the Margerie glacier.

Fortress of the Bear

 This post is a week old, but I didn't get internet in Sitka.  It was the first trip through Glacier Bay this year and a good one.  Lots of cool animals, and I had a nice time at the Inian islands, of course.

Eagles at the Inians
 Takatz Bay
 Greater White-Fronted Geese at the Magouns
 A Northern Pintail at the Magouns
 But the cool thing wasn't just that, it was going to the Fortress of the Bear, (a place where they have Brown and Black Bears in pens) in Sitka.
They have a few GIANT brown bears that have been well fed all their lives, so they keep growing.

 I like how their noses are built and their lips are really interesting too.  Here's a close up
 The ravens and eagles also hang out there, so I got some pictures of them too.

 And look at the lips, at how they extend out and back and are really stretchy and bendy.  Different than a human.
 Begging for food
 And flying.  It was a great place for a few hours.