Friday, June 20, 2014

Alaska Day 10: Thomas Bay | Tongass National Forest


Our next day - the first day we experienced rainy weather during the entirety of the trip - was spent in Thomas Bay, which is sometimes known as  "The Bay of Death" because of a massive landslide that leveled a Tlingit village in 1750, killing more than 500 people. More recently (ahem, 1900), its moniker was adapted to include the name "Devil's Country" because several people claimed to have seen "devil creatures" in the area. The area is now famous for The Strangest Story Ever Told, "a story that combines a cursed remote lake, a shapeshifting half-man/half sea otter, and the gold rush." This gave many of our fellow passengers quite the thrill as stories about scary monsters became the topic of conversation at several tables I passed by. I'm happy to report that we found no evidence of the Kushtaka on either of our hikes, but the crew did report that several important safety items on the boat had been moved and that there was a mysterious generator problem while we were anchored in the Bay. 

I opted out of the first hike of the day as it was advertised as being quite grueling. Alan decided that he would give it a go. Upon returning he reported that it was a good thing I had stayed back on the boat because it was wet, muddy, and pretty much uphill. Yup, glad to have camped out in our room getting caught up on my book.

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When Alan came back, we had lunch and then got ready for a three hour hike in the opposite direction. This had been the advertised hike that I was particularly worried about because in the expedition literature it is listed as "a roundtrip 11-mile hike to the glacially-fed and rarely visited Patterson Lake for spectacular kayaking in the meltwaters of Patterson Glacier." It seems the expedition guides decided to change it up and turn it into a three-hour roundtrip hike on an abandoned logging trail - perfect for me.

We landed our skiff at low tide, and getting to shore was a fun slog through boot sucking mud (BSM). I chose to go the long route, which took me longer than the others, but my socks and pants remained dry whereas other females were dumping buckets of water out of their boots once they reached a place to sit down. (I'm short, and because my wellies are actually for little boys, they are also shorter than other wellies, so there's no way I was going to try to walk through the amount of water those people were. I just knew better than to even attempt it.)


The hike was nice, and we saw a lot of evidence of wildlife (including a dead baby cow carcass) but no large animals. The short hike that was coming down the path as we were leaving had just seen a porcupine. Alan spotted a few different birds, but nothing that was easily or quickly identifiable.  On the way back, we did see a cute little gecko who was pretty unhappy to have been spotted, I think.

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