Alaska Flotilla: Leg 1, Day 15 – Rescue Bay to Culpepper Lagoon | NW Explorations


Alaska Flotilla: Leg 1, Day 15 – Rescue Bay to Culpepper Lagoon

Some days are hard to recount because so much has happened, but that’s great when you’re cruising in good company! Today started in the rain, and though everyone got a bit wet, no one really cared as we were too busy having so much fun! Doug, with his keen eyes, spotted more dolphins between the boats as the rest of us were trying to spot every waterfall in Mathieson Channel. For the record, there are more than any genuine soul could count, especially with the recent weather. Every crack between two rocks gushed a velvety shower of water cascading down western hemlocks and misty bright lichens, finally falling into the deep blue like someone left the tap on. The clouds were unreal, as well. They hung low over the peaks, shadowing the snow packed mountain tops like scenes from a movie. The forest stood proud, silhouetted by the overcast sky, long with fog obscured densely forested walls. Glaciers left scars so deep in the sides of granite that terraces of Douglas firs and sword ferns filled in the steep cliffs like a Japanese tea garden.

The last of the waterfalls proved to be the best of them all. Each of the boats glided close to Kynoch Falls, and what an impressive waterfall it is! Twice the size of Tracy Falls by Kwatsi Bay, Kynoch has to be a favorite by most on the trip. You couldn’t help but be inspired by the raw power. We had to play Enya on the speakers as we motored through, just to set the mood.

The entrance to Culpepper Lagoon reminded me of my days on the Colorado River. With a current up to 6 knots passing through a bottleneck passage of two boat lengths, it was like paddling up a mighty river with a tricky whirlpool eddy on either side. Deception set the example with both throttles full forward, plowing through strong currents like a salmon swimming the streams.

Once inside the lagoon, anchoring was tricky as well. Culpepper Lagoon was created by a massive glacier carving hundreds of feet into the center of the channel. Even as you come a few arm lengths to shore the depth was still about a hundred feet. Not to worry, as we have Captain Brian who has plenty of experience in these complex anchorages. Within a half hour, all five boats were tied up in a raft together with anchors and stern lines deployed. Now who’s ready for a dinghy ride?

At the very end of the lagoon is a river delta that is fed from the head of where the ancient glacier started, high up in the mountain tops. On a rising flood tide, it is possible to dinghy up river in hopes of seeing what this place is famous for, grizzlies. This early in the season, the salmon have yet to come and I suspect the bears are foraging up high on the berries or sedges, so the dinghy tour turned up empty handed for bear sightings. That’s okay, as Mike (Change of Latitude), Doug (Victoria), Rich, and I had fun Huckleberry Finn style as we floated back down the river with paddles in hand.

Not long after the boys were back at the boats did the boat raft pot luck started. It certainly is easy to have a feast when 14 people provide something unique to the table. There was no skimping on the desserts either. Chris brought baked macaroni and cheese, along with Ulla and Mike’s amazing green curry with rice, Jack provided chicken veggie pasta, Jan with another wonderful berry cobbler made from scratch, and a delicious Aussie casserole from Jim, Jane, and Doug. Now is the time to adjust those tight belts and slap the belly with satisfaction from a well cooked meal. Another anchorage all to ourselves, and ice cream to go around for everyone. We are so grateful to be here, living the good life.

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