ALASKA: LEG 5 – COGHILL ANCHORAGE TO SIWASH BAY July 19th, 2016
A restful night cradled among the mountains had us ready go early this morning. Our route sent us arcing south and east towards Unakwik Inlet and the Meares Glacier, where the sun shining down on the silty water turned it a vibrant aquamarine, and the floating ice stood out magnificently against its pure color.
Brave little Kingfishers flitted boldly amongst the trees in the narrow passage near Miner’s Bay, screaming at the affront of having to share their little kingdoms with us, if only for a moment. The ice grows a bit thicker ahead and we spot Harbor seals snoozing on the ice floes. The ice provides a secure and sunny haul out for the seals to give birth and feed their cubs, and we give them a wide berth and reduce our wake to keep the skittish animals from flushing into the cold water.
Unlike the Harvard Glacier which you can see for 30 miles as you approach, the Meares Glacier is hidden by a bend in the fjord until you are almost upon it. Once you round the corner you are presented with the active and ever changing vertical face and the sight of swooping body curving up and out of sight into the peaks beyond. The walls of the fjord are very, very, steep here and draw they eye down to the ice, which spans the width of the gorge. At the joint between stone and ice stands an old growth forest of hemlock and spruce. Until very recently the Meares glacier has been advancing steadily, peeling up the thin soil and bowling over the stout trees as it goes, leaving a great tangle of trunks and boughs at its foot. With our bows pointed into the chill wind that flows down off the icy slope we watch the glacier as it calves and creaks until we retreat to warmer weather in Siwash Bay.
We lash our six boats together and nail down the raft with three anchors and three shore lines in the warm evening calm. Deception grills a few fresh fillets of Copper River salmon and hosts everybody for a tasty potluck dinner which spreads onto the sunny flybridges. Ravens add to our conversations clorking and rattling as the sun ducks behind the ridge and another day comes to a close.