ALASKA: LEG 1- BISHOP BAY HOT SPRINGS TO LOWE INLET
May 19th, 2016 | By: Gregory Smart | Leg 1: Inside Passage
After an invigorating morning soak in the steaming waters we set off under a blazing morning sun. Captain Brain set us a new course taking us north up Grenville Channel to avoid gale force winds predicted along our intended and more exposed outside route. The southern end of Grenville Channel begins in Wright Sound, the broad intersection of five fjords which radiate out in all directions. It is here in 2006 that the ferry Queen of the North failed to make a turn on a stormy winter night and ran aground on Gil Island, eventually sinking in almost a thousand feet of water with two souls aboard. The conditions today are far more favorable as we sail towards the narrow mouth of Grenville Channel. Cellphones chirp and buzz as we briefly connect to the network around the tiny Gitga’at Village of Hartley Bay, whose residents heroically rescued and tended to the Queen of the North’s stranded passengers.Grenville Channel is a long, straight shot running northwest to Prince Rupert and beyond to Alaska. As a result, although it in places it is less than two tenths of a mile across, it is widely used by every type of vessel. On the western shore, a light helicopter lifts slings full of gear off of a small barge and delivers them to a logging camp high on the adjoining mountainside.Lowe Inlet is one of the few stopping places, but just because it’s one of the only options certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t breathtaking! At its head a large river pours out of a series of lakes in a powerful fall. The height of the torrent increases with the falling tide, and the sound of rushing water ebbs as the tide rises. We tour the bay in dinghies, taking time to examine the remains of an abandoned salmon cannery and an ancient stone fish trap constructed on the mudflats by the Tsimshian people long ago. Leaving the dinghies tied to the beach we plunge into the cool mossy forest. Giant moss draped cedars and Sitka Spruce tower over glades of Huckleberry and Devil’s Club. The massive leaves of Skunk Cabbage grow out of the low water-filled hollows. Tree frogs croak and hop through the underbrush. The winding overgrown trail eventually leads us to a cliff with a view of the lake. We scrambled back down the trail and rescued the dinghies from the falling tide and then returned to the rafted boats to enjoy one another’s company, good food, and the stunning view as the nearly full moon rose above the inlet to tint the waters silver grey.