O.K., I have not been keeping up with this " post " or " blog " thing at all. Keep on scrolling down below the first pictures.... more text and pictures to come.
End of July. Wow, summer is flying by very quick. I sure have had " easier " ones, but I am not going to get into the negative details here, as after all the nice stuff is much more fun. While in May and June I was lucky to get quite a few sailing trips in, some alone, some with friends, Orca Burger has been pretty much docked for July. A highlight for me was a trip with " Heinziwobissudenn " to Glacier Bay. I had always wanted to see that place. And the forecast predicted a nice 4 day weather window, right when Heinz was scheduled to visit.
We were lucky to get a permit to go in, on a short notice, and spend the first night in Bartlett Cove. People always get a chuckle, or am asked to repeata, when I call over the radio the boat name in.... " Orca Burger ". By the way. That was not my idea, but I really liked it and did not change it. The boat had that name when I bought it, named after a restaurant the old owner had down south.
The next day we motored all the way up to Tarr Inlet. Up ahead was the Grand Pacific Glacier, a rather " dull looking brown piece of ice ". Motoring up in Glacier Bay, its helpful to really watch the tides, specially the out going ones are much stronger, as they are also strengthened by the meltwater of all the glaciers. At some points we were hitting 7 knot currents head on, and quickly decided that it made not sense to keep on going, as although we were traveling at 13 knots though the water we were only left with a measly 6 knots progress. While after having nap, we would travel at 15 plus miles... much better. Nothing better than a nap anyhow. While the Grand Pacific Glacier was by no means Eyecandy, the Margerie Glacier coming in for the side, basically coming down all the way from Mount Fairweather ( 15.300 ft from Sealevel is an impressive sight ), was as beautiful as glacier get. Right after we arrived, as the only boat there.... we wittness a couple of very nice calving events, a deep roaring thundering through the valley, sea gulls screetching and looking for fresh food.
Ah, Glaciers never get old. One tricky thing about Glacier Bay, specially in a small tupper ware boat it finding suitable anchorage. Not without a reason were we the only boat left... as it was getting late and staying over night there is no option. Icebergs would set us adrift, that is if we even could find shallow enough waters to anchor out in. The only suitable place seemed Reid Inlet some 15 miles back. And 15 slow miles those are, dodging,... or trying to not dodge , icebergs. At some point I spotted a brown something swimming amidst the ice flows. That brown somethings was a grizzly crossing the width of Tarr Inlet from one side to the other. Brave Bear. Or very hungry bear. We did not get great shots, but also did not want to go any closer, as I am sure the bear had a hard enough time in the frigid waters as it was.
Reid Inlet did not disappoint, although we did have to share it with 4 other boats. What a stunning anchorage, with the Reid glacier in plain sight, yet safely closed off from drifting ice. Reid Glacier itself does not calve anymore, it ends right in the mud. We got some nice closeups the next day. We also tried to get a glimpse of John Hopkins Glacier, but too much ice, had to turn around. Passing Lamplugh glacier though was worth the trip and once again we were treated to some nice chunks of ice hurtling down into the inlet. Time for another nap in Reid Inlet.
The original plan was to stay another night, but something did not look right to me in the sky, thin cirrus clouds were showing, although the forecast had predicted nice weather when we left. We were too far in to have radio reception to get a new forecast. So I trusted my gut instinct and told Heinz we are leaving and going all the way back to Bartlett Cove. Good thing we did. Already by 2 a.m. rain greeted us and the next morning the clouds were right down the ground, a thick layer of fog muffling all sights and sounds. Needing to work the tides we left again at 5 a.m. and it is an eerie feeling to motor along without seeing much and not having a radar. By the time we had passed Gustavus visibility had increased enough to at least see the shoreline about a mile away. Than the hard rains hit and quite a bit of wind too, right when we rounded Point Retreat Lighthouse. Both fuel gages right on empty, all 8! Fifegallon jugs dry, I was very glad when we safely docked in Tee Harbor. All I can say. Glacier Bay, I will be back, next time hopefully with a bit more time to spend. Needless to say, rushing back to the glacier tours was a kind of pointless, with tours being weather cancelled anyhow in this nasty stuff.
While we were getting drowned in Juneau, Alaska´s Interior was hit bit super hot temperatures and worse off a fire that burned dangerously close to the Community of Two Rivers. I had just bought a place there last winter and it was right smack dab in the middle of the evacuation notice which went out. Not nice. Luckily Gila and Dieter the old owners were still living there, we kind of more or less just swapped houses anyhow, as I have stayed with them for many years while running the Quest, and now they are staying with me, but once they evacuated I felt the need of a trip up North. Thanks to a monster effort by hundreds of firemen and women they managed to keep everything safe. The fire was kept on the south side of the Chena River, a mere 2.5 miles away.
Pumps, hoses and huge water buckets were lining all the residential streets. I am having a bit different feeling now when I see reports on TV of forest fires. Within a few days of the fire danger has passed and life kind of resumed to normal. While I was up there, I the Yukon Quest had their annual " Dawg Gone Canoe Race ". Luckily fellow musher Oliver Rammersbach has a canoe and a dog too. Yes, we did not have much freeboard with " Ice ", after all Oliver is raising Malemutes, and both of us in the boat, and things got " tricky " when Ice suddenly moved. But heck we had a lot of fun and managed to mostly stay dry. Finish the day of with Burgers at the Boatel Bar. Not bad of a day.
Before heading back to Juneau I visited an old stomping ground, beautiful MacLaren River Lodge. Have spend many nights there, usually short, just a couple of hours rest inbetween dog runs while training on the Denali Highway. It is a truly beautiful place in all 4 seaons. But more than anything. It is the hospitality of Susie and Alan which make MacLaren so special. http://www.maclarenlodge.com/
Been back in Juneau now since, and the glacier tours are in full swing, that is if the weather is cooperating. There is quite days in Juneau, with not as many ships in port and real busy days like Mondays and Tuesdays. The weather sure has a knack this summer to hit us right on the busy days. Not nice. But as it looks we are into a stretch of some beautiful sunshine again. Just got back off the ice last night.
The Mini Skunks are not Mini Skunks anymore neither. Goblin and Lobben are quicky catching up to the size of their 6 month older brothers. They are also harness broke by now, so is Ozzy. Harness breaking on the glacier on a sled is much easier and way more fun than on a ATV. For one the pups had been around the loop many times before while free running, they also see all the big dogs go around each day many times, but simply I can run a very small team and no engine noise, which makes for perfect harness breaking conditions. About 6 more weeks of Tour season is left till about the 12th of September. If you are in Juneau. Stop on in! I have been getting some nice comments about the tours and just received some pictures too. These ones here are from Kristi who visited a couple of days ago. Thanks for visiting and sending the pictures!