A Travellerspoint blog

9 June, Thursday, Blashke Island

a walk on the "wild" side

overcast 59 °F

This morning was like most of our mornings so far – breakfast buffet, back to the room for a bit and to get dressed appropriately for the morning’s adventure, and then off to do or see something new. Today we signed up for a guided kayak tour in the morning, followed by a “Skiff ride to a Beach Walk and maybe a Forest Poke”.

It was a bit warmer today than yesterday but still looked like rain. So we forewent the long john pants and fleece jackets and just went with regular clothes, rainpants, and rainjackets. We donned our kayaking life vests and went down to the kayaks. Today we kayaked around Middle Island (near Blashke Island); it took about 2 hours total. We saw a lion’s mane jelly, 3 sea otters, a bald eagle, a moon jelly, and a wolf (on an island). As we were returning to the boat, a light rain started. Good timing! Once again we used the GoPro, but those pictures won't load, so we'll have to share them later. We do have a picture from today of the front of our ship, the Wilderness Explorer, taken from a distance and "blown up." 612b2950-f1a1-11ec-9f6a-67e417bf0266.jpg

After lunch, we put back on our rainpants, rainjackets, and rubber boots and grabbed our hiking sticks for the beach walk. (Why do we wear rain gear on a nice day? Because rain comes and goes all day without warning, and the skiff can be splashy.) The skiff dropped us off just before low tide at an island on the other side of Middle Island. To help us better observe and interact with the chosen beach, we were given “bingo card” sheets that gave the names and pictures of 25 different species of plants and animals found in the intertidal zone in SE Alaska. We had to find and photograph everything in a row, column or diagonal on the bingo sheet of species in order to win the “game”. As far as I know, no one won, but it was fun to keep looking for things we hadn’t found yet. During the game we found:
blue Pacific mussels, 87c67910-f1a2-11ec-862c-1717fd52b2a5.jpg
Pacific Razor Clams, 61e132e0-f1a1-11ec-a677-bf1c29f52e1b.jpg
Isopods (look like underwater multi-legged insects), Chitons (look like black, rounded bandaids with a line of white dots), 612228a0-f1a1-11ec-af4a-9db4453f4c81.jpg
Anemones, 61b2f6f0-f1a1-11ec-8bbe-c3ef55009172.jpg
Acorn Barnacles (little ones), Goose-neck barnacles (big ones), barnacles.jpg
Sculpin, Shrimp, (no good pictures)
Dog winkles/whelks (spiral shell), Limpets (conical shell), 61f09c30-f1a1-11ec-8f18-2d172d3b5576.jpg
Bullwhip kelp, 61eea060-f1a1-11ec-b3bf-9311f2da23f3.jpg
Bladder wrack, 61623ee0-f1a1-11ec-9f6a-67e417bf0266.jpg
and lots of interesting rocks.

The beach we were observing was mostly covered with the classic “boot-sucking mud,” perfect for “Alaskan tennis shoes” (a nickname for rubber boots up here). There was one point where I was concerned I might come out of my 18” high boot before the mud let go of it. The hiking stick helped me keep my balance on one foot until the mud let go of the other. We’d be walking through “rockweed,” another name for bladder wrack, and our boots would literally sink 3-4 inches into the mud. Though it was slippery and disconcerting to sink that deep into the mud, the rockweed kept the mud from clinging so thoroughly to our boots. I’d never had the opportunity to walk from rock to muck to tidal pool without concern for the state of my footwear before. It was quite freeing! I just had to make sure the water I was walking through stayed below my upper calves, or my boots would fill up with more than me.

The closest we got to the forest today was as we were leaving for the skiff rendezvous. Taking a shortcut around the boot sucking mud, we walked through a grassy area next to the forest. There we saw blue lupine 7e72f8b0-f1a3-11ec-8e8c-ef7793d30b14.jpg
and chocolate lilies (which sound tasty, but are named for the flowers' color - they supposedly smell like carrion, but I didn't get close enough to verify). 7e7542a0-f1a3-11ec-862c-1717fd52b2a5.jpg

Supper tonight was coho salmon, followed by peach cobbler. Yummy! Dan saw whales out the dining room window during supper this evening. I think I saw one, too, but it was quite way out.

In case anyone has been comparing our actual itinerary to the one we posted in the first blog entry, they modified it. Our activity director’s birthday is this weekend, and she’s been planning all her favorite places to visit. It has helped that we have less than half the usual complement of passengers, so activities and places that don’t accommodate 70+ passengers but can take 35 passengers have become viable options. Their motto is “the schedule depends on whimsy, weather, and whales.”

After supper we sailed past a town to port (left side of the ship). It was Ketchikan. Wait, that's our endpoint; what are we doing here? Oh! Our next stop is Misty Fjords National Monument, which is south of Ketchikan; we'll be back here on Sunday to disembark. Then, in the middle of the water off Ketchikan, the ship just stopped and sat there. They came on the intercom and told us one of our crew members was needed on another ship so she was being take ashore and we were waiting for our skiff to come back.

The waves today have been getting higher throughout the day and are forecast for 10 feet and winds of 50 kts tonight. A big cruise ship wouldn't mind them at all, considering their mass and their underwater "wings" that extend as stabilizers. But our ship has neither the mass nor the stabilizers of the big ships, so the waves are significant for us. We are planning on being at Traitor's Cove (or is the Trader's Cove?) for our morning anchorage.

Posted by dasafish 20:57 Archived in USA Tagged alaska blashke_island intertidal_zone

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