Friday, June 06, 2014

Alaska Day 3: Freshwater Bay & Pavlov Lake


Leaving the Magoun Islands, we sailed through the Surgis Narrows toward our next day's destination, Freshwater Bay. As morning dawned, it was hard to sleep in with so much excitement for what the day would bring. Before it was even time for breakfast, we were treated to our first sighting of humpback whales in the Bay with us. What an amazing way to greet the day!

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After breakfast we decided to try our hand at open kayaking for the first time of the trip. This was the first time we'd kayaked together in a double kayak since our trip to Kauai in May 2012 (that didn't go great). When we took our lesson last year in Jack London Square, we had individual kayaks, so this was a great test of how well we could do together based on our new knowledge. I'm happy to report that it was a great experience, and I was immediately hooked. What made kayaking with Un-Cruise so great for me, however, was the easy in-and-out features from the boat's fantail. I normally look like a sea lion trying to get out of the water and up onto a rocky bluff when getting in and out of a kayak from a dock, but this was a much better experience. I have to admit that it took me several days to get the hang of it and to find my "form" so to speak, and yes, it took two people to help me out because my knees suck, but the method employed aboard the Wilderness Discoverer (and I assume their other active adventure boats?) is truly an added benefit for people like me.

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[I was in total University of Pittsburgh (aka Pitt) representation mode on this trip with my hat and my waterproof windbreaker that somehow still (barely) fits from when I was a freshman in college.]

After lunch it was time for our first hike of the trip, to a location called Pavlov Lake with expedition guide Marika. The interesting thing about hikes with Un-Cruise, especially so early in the season, is that you're not going on pre-defined routes. We started at a salmon fish ladder next to waterfall that you can see in the photo above, and from there it was up the hill, meandering through spruce and alder, keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife along the way. We didn't see anything, but we did see signs of squirrels and beavers, including a beaver lodge (alas, no dam). Because you're going off the beaten path, the terrain is quite different from one step to the next. One minute you're on spongy dry earth, created from years of spruce needles lining the forest floor, the next minute you're scrambling up and over exposed roots and fallen logs, and then the next minute a hiking companion is helping you get your wellies unstuck from about a foot and a half of mud. (That's a strange feeling ...)

They say there are two seasons in Southeast Alaska - raining, and waiting for rain. In the span of our hike we went from sunny and warm(ish), to pouring rain, and back again. I started in a fleece with my hair in a hat, and ended in full rain gear to combat the rain, but with my fleece removed because I was too hot with both jacket and fleece. On the first half of our trip, we encountered a lot of warm weather that made it essential to leave the boat in layers. You truly never knew what you'd be returning in.

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