ALASKA: LEG 4 – GROWLER BAY TO SIWASH BAY | NW Explorations
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ALASKA: LEG 4 – GROWLER BAY TO SIWASH BAY

July 9, 2016

Calving Season

Growler Bay could not have been prettier this morning.  Sunshine, blue sky, and calm winds had us all in sunglasses and some in shorts as we unwound our five boat raft from the night before.  We headed west, taking some beautiful narrow passages, and passed by a small flock of horned puffins on the water.  You can never see too many puffins.  We reached Unakwik Inlet and then headed north for the ice.

There is no record of anyone sailing all the way up Unakwik until 1899, making it surely one of the last places to be “discovered” in America.  It is still pretty far off the beaten track and we had it all to ourselves today.  At the head of the inlet sits the Meares Glacier, three-quarters of a mile wide and three hundred feet tall.  It is fed by the same massive snowfield from which the Columbia Glacier arises, but unlike the retreating Columbia, it is fairly stable.  By looking at the vegetation around it, you could see that the glacier was retreating a bit on one side and holding its own on the other.  There was much less ice in the water as we approached the Meares than we had faced in front of the quickly retreating Columbia.

Stable or not, the calving was spectacular!  Tons of ice dropped into the water with a crash like thunder.  A mini-tsunami rolled out to the boats a quarter-mile away.  We noticed that a sizable chunk of beach was uncovered on the left side of the ice wall so we did a quick dinghy ride in for those who wanted an up-close view.  While that 300’ face was impressive from off-shore, it was magnificent on the beach!

A couple hours later we were anchored for the night in Siwash Bay, with almost every boat in its own private cove.  I picked blueberries and salmonberries with Judy and Rebecca from AnamCara.  Almost everyone else in the fleet seemed to take heed of the advice of Water Rat in The Wind in the Willows: “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”.  Every kayak and dinghy was launched all exploring the calm bay in the warm sun.  Lovely!

 

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