Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 26-29, Thomas Bay (North of Petersburg) to Ford's Terror (Endicott Arm)

Saturday Morning, June 27, 2009, Thomas Bay –
Last night after we left Petersburg, we headed north through Frederick Sound. Wow! It is so gorgeous here! Laconte Glacier looms large over our starboard side. We could see icebergs through the binoculars; we were hoping to get closer but we needed to find an anchorage before dark, especially with the big blow expected. We pulled into Thomas Bay and checked out the Forrest Service cabin that Val’s dad and I stayed at a number of years ago. It is right next to Cascade Creek, which is significant and drops a beautiful waterfall right into the bay.
Just around a point to the south, in the protection of Spray Island, we found a beautiful, little protected cove and set the hook in about 70’ of water at high tide. The tide tonight is a 20’ swing from high to low! I could easily get out 225’ of rode with ample swinging room, keeping us out of the rocks at low tide. For extra assurance, I clipped a 12# downrigger ball onto the anchor rope and let it slide down until it hit the last 50’ of chain. That extra weight should take away any shock of waves up top and give a nice flat pull on the anchor. A curious seal watched the whole ordeal; perhaps, he thought I was invading his space. While quite confident in my ground tackle, I never sleep quite as good while on the hook but I’d much rather be in this gorgeous wilderness than in a marina. Our view is of high, glacier-topped mountains all around with the sound of rushing water dropping into the bay.
Having established our fluid campsite, Cody and I went to set the traps. I’ve been disappointed in the crabbing and shrimping here so far. We’ve had much more success back at Orcas or the Southern BC waters. Maybe, we’re not doing it right. The locals say that fishing has been slow too. They think the salmon may still be coming in and that it’s still plenty early. I hope so. Although we haven’t fished a lot, I was hoping for more. My lovely bride shipped every single package of halibut home leaving us no fresh fish to eat! I really love her. She must have confidence in our fishing ability. I think that means I better go fishing, right? We’ve been busy though, cruising, navigating, fixing, adjusting, pulling hooks out of dogs, cleaning, etc; life on a boat is hard work, no, strike that, fun. Serious fishing is yet to come.
This morning, we all slept in. In fact, its 9:30 and I’m the only one up yet! It’s pouring rain. Today, there’s no let up, no little rays of sun. I was hoping to take the family up the Cascade Creek hiking trail, but Val’s dad and I did it years ago in the rain and it was so stinkin’ slippery, I fell down half a dozen times. So, for now, I’ve got the furnace cranked up, two dog snuggled by my feet, enjoying my morning tea, praising God for this beautiful place, for a safe night on the hook, and for the ability to do this all. I’m so thankful that, if the big blow is happening out there, that we’re much protected in our little mountain-surrounded cove. Lord, is it too much to ask for some shrimp and crab today?
Sunday Morning, June 28, 2009, Thomas Bay –
Wow, did we sleep good last night! Even though we’re still on the hook, I don’t think I woke up once or moved a muscle all night. We were exhausted after our day yesterday….and a great day it was.
Well, the Lord answered my prayer…we now have one barely legal crab and two shrimp to share between the four of us. I think I need to pray for more today. God has blessed us so richly here with the beauty of His majestic creation. I just cannot take it all in.
After pulling the pots with our less than bounteous catch, I came back to the boat and made the family pancakes. It was raining pretty hard but the boys wanted to do the Cascade Creek hike anyway. Val decided to stay back and cozy up in the boat for the afternoon. I warned the boys it was going to be an adventure filled with fun and beauty but would also be cold, wet, muddy, and that, as with most adventures, brings trials. The rules are: no complaining or whining! Armed with our pepper spray, we set off.
Our first stop was the little Forrest Service cabin right in the next cove. Cody actually found the guest log entry Val’s dad and I made…it was August of ’03. We read that we caught salmon, halibut, mussels, and other fish we didn’t know but were tasty. So, there is hope! We also read that it took us 5.5 hours to make the hike round trip. At least the boys know what they’re in for.
Cody decided to take the dogs and hike the beach to the creek trail. Connor and I took the dinghy alongside. As we were all progressing, I saw Cody come running towards the dinghy and hear the dogs yelping, half like they’re on a chase and half like they’re being chased! First thought: BEAR! I went to the beach to pick up Cody and we all called the dogs. We heard thrashing around but no dogs. Finally, out comes Lucky and it appears like she’s foaming at the mouth profusely. Upon closer inspection, her snout is covered in porcupine needles. I was relieved that it wasn’t more serious. Tanner hadn’t given up yet but the porcupine was punishing him hard. Finally, he came back to us but he looked like pin-cushion! He had about a hundred needles inside and around his mouth. He finally met his match! He patiently let me pull one out at a time. They were in his tongue, his palette, his lips everywhere! He looked like some kind of monster out of horror movie! He was gentle and only yelped on the tough ones. When I got the ones I could, he licked me and was very gracious with his gratitude. Thankfully, I brought antibiotics for the dogs, which they are now on for the next week, while the rest of the needle remnants work their way out.
We all had a good laugh and continued up to the trail…this time, all of us were in the dinghy. It was low tide so we tied all the ropes we had onboard together and then threw the anchor up on the beach as far as we could, knowing that our dinghy would be floating when we got back. Our hike up the rushing river was so incredibly beautiful. What looked like a little creek dropping into the bay was actually quite a large river with thousands of feet of elevation drop. It was a wild river/falls and made a thunderous roar as we hiked; even the ground rumbled under our feet. We couldn’t tell if all the water hitting us was rain or the mist blowing off the falls. We all praised God for the beautiful gift He’d given us to enjoy.
My memory served us right. It was slimy and slippery and we all fell down numerous times. The old saying is true, “Pride comes before the fall.” Connor was bragging about how stable he was, mocking Cody and I for our lack thereof. The words weren’t even out of his mouth before he tumbled down like a bowling pin. We all busted out laughing, especially Connor. All in good fun, of course. We scratched our way up, often times on all fours, and slid our way down on our butts. It was an exhausting and exhilarating climb. Even though a couple of the log bridges across the cervices had broken, we picked our way up and down and worked as a team lending a hand or pulling up the dogs. It was a great bonding time with the boys and we all had a great time.
At the top, (at least where we stopped) there was a beautiful alpine lake with snow covered mountains all around and a massive waterfall on the far end. The Forrest Service had a duck boat there so we rowed across the lake right up into the mist of the falls. I cannot describe to you how amazing this site was. The water was so clear. Ice lay around the shore and in the rocks. We stood by the falls while Connor thanked God for this day.
About six hours of hard hiking and rowing, we made it back to the beach. Our dinghy was WAY OUT in the bay and the anchor was further out in the water than any of us expected. Now what? Connor, looking like a drowned rat already, graciously volunteered to strip down and go after it, until his big toe hit the water! “I can’t feel my feet,” he shrieked. Cody went in search of a long stick or branch. I threw rocks at the dinghy rope hoping Tanner would understand and go fetch it up. He loved the game but didn’t quite get the concept. The cold didn’t seem to bother him. If only he could understand me. We finally found a long stick and Connor “harpooned” it under the anchor rode and Tanner fetched up the far end and the rope along with it! Sweet victory!
The dinghy ride back to the boat was freezing cold, especially for Connor. We all stripped on the back deck. Thankfully, mom had the furnace cranked up to 75 degrees. We all took turns in the warm shower (although with only an 80 gallon tank, they have to be “sailor showers”) and then snarfed down anything edible that didn’t take more than a minute or two to prepare! What a great adventure it was.
Warm and full and getting awfully sleepy, the boys convinced us to have our devotions and poker game in the Forrest Service cabin. I grabbed the lantern and we dinghied over. This cabin reminds me of the one described in the book, “The Shack.” We got there, built a raging fire in the stove, and spent some time in family devotions, before the nightly poker game. Connor went all in and all out almost immediately so he got put in charge of firewood duty. I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer so I went all in and all out almost as quickly. The cabin quickly warmed up to what felt like 90 degrees so Connor and I jumped in the dinghy, flew back to the boat, loaded up all the wet dirty clothes from the hike, and got them hung up in that nice, warm cabin overnight. Turns out, Cody won the poker game again. So, for the summer, Cody is still number one, followed by me, then mom, then Connor, but it’s still anybody’s game. That brings me to this morning. Everyone is still sleeping; even the dogs can’t get up. I’m going to go pull the traps and see if there’s something for dinner tonight! Monday Morning, June 29, 2009, Thomas Bay –
Today is a cruising day so everyone is up and at it! Cody pulls the traps, Connor stows the dinghy, mom cleans and packs, Dad prepares navigation and anchor stowage.
Yesterday, I pulled the crab trap and had two more males! Val and I took the dinghy fishing but didn’t have any luck so we went exploring. We drove up to Baird Glacier in Thomas Bay. We saw many whales and seals. It was beautiful but very cold!
After we got back, very chilled, we went to The Shack, stoked the fire, and warmed up a bit. The boys were busy on the boat doing their school and reading. We all loaded up the dinghy and headed back to The Shack for our nightly routine: devotions, dinner, and poker. I fried up some chicken, while the boys chopped some wood. We all love that little shack. Val won the poker game.
All in all, it was another great day in this beautiful land. I gotta go…the boys are done with their work and it’s time to pull the anchor. Have a great day!
Monday Evening, June 29, 2009, Ford’s Terror –
We all hated to leave our little anchorage in Thomas Bay…with the beauty and The Shack, our three nights there seemed way to short, but we’ve got our permit in Glacier Bay on July 4th so we need to keep moving. I can’t believe there would be a more beautiful anchorage but we just found one! We are in Ford’s Terror in Endicott Arm. We travelled about 75 miles today, stopping to Halibut Fish and Salmon Fish…no luck! Thankfully, Cody pulled up two more crab and nine more nice shrimp this morning. I must say that I thought we’d have more fish in the cooler by now. Maybe God is saving the best for later?!?
We saw a lot of humpback whales today, mostly at a distance but we did see some close ups but not close enough or long enough to photograph. It’s easy to see their blows from about a mile away. They are amazing creatures. We also saw a lot of dolphins hunting…they just fly…they’re so amazingly fast. They remind me of a fast-paced hockey game.
It rains all the time, it seems. Today, we actually saw the sun for about half an hour and went from chilly to instantly hot…it was so wonderful. Around the glaciers, it gets really cold. Our diesel furnace works great and keeps everything nice and dry.
We picked our way through ice bergs to get here. Some of them were as big as a house! We loaded up our cooler with crystal clear glacier ice. After dodging ice bergs, we arrived at Ford’s Terror about an hour and a half before high tide slack. The entrance looked more like a white water rafting experience than a safe passage. So, we threw down the anchor and launched the dinghy to check it out. No way! We need to wait for slack tide. Val made some spaghetti and a salad and we stuffed our bellies and watched the entrance with binoculars. We saw ice bergs the size of our dinghy smash against the rocks. The force of the ice and the tides is pretty incredible. Finally, the slack tide let us through the narrow entrance. Although it was narrow, there are granite cliffs towering up into the clouds. It looks like a scene out of Lord of the Rings! We found our anchorage at the end of the fjord next to a waterfall and a glacier. This place is amazing! There’s not another soul around. It’s kind of eerie and spooky in a beautiful kind of way. Thank you, Lord, for this creation. Below is a picture of our anchorage.Well, it’s time for devotions and poker. I feel good about tonight…I can’t fish worth a darn, but my poker luck is about to change!