May 17th, 2016 | By: Gregory Smart | Leg 1: Inside Passage

Traces of the immense forces that shaped this landscape in prehistory are still born by the stones here. The steep slopes of Mathieson Channel display the marks left by the glaciers that bored the deep runnel into the bedrock eons ago. From the water’s edge the forests rise nearly vertically for thousands of feet, spruces, cedars and firs rooted steeply directly into the rock under only an inch or two of soil.

Waterfalls seem to flow from the mountaintops, streaming off of towering grey cliffs and dropping with a roar in delicate white bands into the deep cold waters below. Kynoch Falls is one of the largest, and provides a world class backdrop for crew photos, so we all take our turn before heading onwards towards Culpepper Lagoon, narrow offshoot at the end of Kynoch Inlet. The notched entrance appears on the southern side only as you arrive to it, and is only passable at slack water.  Captain Brian’s calculations are correct yet again and we slip inside with no trouble, finding ourselves in place of serene and dramatic beauty. At the lead of lagoon Lard Creek gurgles happily out of the mountains and through a grassy floodplain. We anchor all six boats together in a raft in 60 feet of water and tie our shorelines to trees.

A dinghy tour takes us nearly a mile up the clear waters of Lard Creek in search of bears, wolves, and beauty. Today we find only the latter, but the forest is stunning in its richness. Wildflowers line the banks and the bright new growth on every plant hides warbling songbirds and chattering chipmunks.

The day’s great excitement came in the early evening as Todd aboard AnamCara hauled in his crab pot brimming with fat Dungeness crabs. Everybody pitched in to clean and cook the haul, and though we’ll save most of it for a cocktail hour tomorrow at Bishop Bay Hot Springs, some of us sneak a pinch of freshly cooked meat as it comes out of the pot. Sweet and flavorful, it needs no seasoning. There are few things better than fresh crab caught in clean cold waters!

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