July 10, 2016
You would think that Landlocked Bay would be an oxymoron, but instead it is where we dropped anchor this night. The name is apt. There is a narrow entrance, where the chart shows 0.6 fathoms. Almost landlocked, indeed. Adding to the effect, the walls of the glacial cirque rise 1,000 to 2,000 feet around the anchorage, well above tree-line. Up on the alpine meadows, just below the rocky ridgeline, we saw three mountain goats grazing happily in the sun.
We liked seeing the goats, but the main hunt today was for whales and bears. We met our first objective on a shallow spot just off Iceberg Point. Two humpback whales were feeding lazily on the little fish that also attracted mew gulls and black-legged kittiwakes. Every few minutes one would surface and puff out a ten-foot spout. “Thar she blows’” was the cry, but the weapon of choice for this fleet of whalers was the camera rather than the harpoon. While the humpbacks of Southeast Alaska migrate to Hawaii in the winter, somewhere in this neighborhood is the dividing line where the whales migrate to Asia instead. We couldn’t tell if they were speaking Hawaiian or Russian.
Dinghies were launched in Landlocked Bay for the bear hunt. We hit the ten-foot high tide just right and floated the little boats up into the grassy wetlands at the head of the bay. There were several small schools of chum salmon zipping around the shallows, already turned from their ocean bight silver to the mottled browns and grays of spawning. Eagles waited in the trees for them to finish their business so they could feast on the remains. Jordan shut down the outboard and we listened in the quiet. A varied thrush whistled in the distance, while a pacific wren twittered its tumbling song. The eagles had their squeaky conversation group, and a young Steller’s Jay noisily begged food from its parents. There were no bears, alas, but the serenity of this sunny spot in the grass was matchless. If the tide hadn’t turned, threatening us with beaching, we might still be there yet.