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June 17, 2016

The outboard motor on Deception’s bright red inflatable coughed to life at seven this morning and headed in to the rocky shore at Coghill Anchorage, where a trail leads several miles back through rolling hills towards the mountains and the large lake that serves as the Coghill River’s headwaters.

We leave the boats tied to shore on a small pebble beach and strike out into the rich old-growth spruce forest. As with most trails in Alaska, the tread surface alternates throughout the year between two states: ice and mud. It is mud season now, and despite the hot dry weather we are glad for our rubber boots as we squelch between boardwalk sections. The trail winds up and down around the southern end of the point and offers glimpses of the calm bronze mudflats and broad grassy delta. Crossing a series of ravines, the track bends northwards and into the heart of the forest. Grosbeaks and Varied thrushes call amongst the trunks as they hunt for seeds and pinecones, while eagle chortle and whistle from the top of snags. The mosses here lie as thick as snow and in places where a fallen tree has allowed a shaft of light to reach the ground the ferns, devil’s club, and salmonberry claw upwards in dense thickets. We walk for about three hours and return to the boats ready for a hearty breakfast and ready to weigh anchor and head south.

Retracing our steps through Esther Passage we spot a puff of white among the peaks. The first cloud we have seen in three days! The mouth of the passage is clear of fishing boats and we slip into the wide central body of the Sound where we pass the whimsically named Bald Head Chris Island, an homage to a particularly hirsute resident who raised foxes there a hundred years ago. As we approach Naked Island, AnamCara sets out to circumnavigate the island in a successful search for the Tufted and Horned puffin colonies rumored to exist on the southern shore. The rest of us find a nice spot to drop the hook in Passage Cove on the north shore. The afternoon here has remained sunny even as clouds have built on the far off peak, and Bo on Patos is so taken by the sunny weather he braves the chilly waters to go for a swim! The rest of us are, needless to say, content to swim vicariously.

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