A Travellerspoint blog

Jun 6 – Dawes Glacier and North Dawes

and bears, and a rainbow

rain 50 °F

Today we woke to rain (real rain, not just drizzle) and about 45F. After a yummy breakfast buffet, we all put on our warmest layers of clothes and rubber boots, with rain jacket and rain pants over all, and went out to get “up close and personal” with Dawes’ Glacier; well, within half a mile of it anyway. They counted off 10 of us in our skiff, plus our pilot and the team leader. They don’t get closer than ¼ of a mile to the glacier for safety reasons. 1344ef60-edae-11ec-8271-67fe9cd44bd6.jpg
The glacier is up to 500 feet tall, if that gives you an idea of the perspective. We saw the glacier calve 5-6 times, all relatively small ice chunks (probably a little bigger than a car), and a couple ice “avalanche” flows down a smooth rock slope. I say we saw the glacier calve; most of the time we heard it. Even at ½ a mile, it takes the sound a couple seconds to get to you and all you see after you hear the sound is the last bit of splash and a rising mist from the water being chilled by the addition of the ice. 15efeb20-edae-11ec-8271-67fe9cd44bd6.jpg The boat team leader told us the indigenous people called the sound of the glacier calving, “white thunder.” It does sound a lot like thunder and it’s pretty loud!
We all returned to the ship, warmed up, and had lunch. While we ate lunch, the ship moved to a more secluded cove for the afternoon activities. When the ship anchored, the tide was more than half out and we saw a mama black bear with her cub. They had come down a steep mountain to the shore of the fjord so Mama could feast on the marine life growing on the rocks revealed by the low tide. She ate for quite a while; baby got bored after a bit and went back up the mountain to do something else while mom finished eating. By now the rain had stopped; it was still chilly, but partly cloudy, which meant it was also partly sunny.
For our afternoon activity we chose Kayaking 101 – which, if you know my history with kayaks, is amazing! (Several years ago our oldest son, Tim, and I did some kayaking on a cruise, and neither of us were happy with the event.) Turns out sea kayaks (like we are using) are much more manageable than the molded plastic sit-upon kayaks used in my first experience. 126d7b20-edae-11ec-8271-67fe9cd44bd6.jpg (Since it's hard to hold a camera while kayaking, we mounted Dan's GoPro on my head and I used a remote on my wrist to trigger it. That is the source of all the kayaking photos.)
We actually did pretty well working together in paddling the kayak. These kayaks have rudders, turned by foot pedals at the rear seat; Dan sat in back and worked the rudder. I sat in the front seat and had foot rests. I learned that the strength for kayaking comes from your core. You sit with your legs partially bent, balls of the feet on the adjustable foot rests. This helps keep you back in your seat, sitting straight up, so you can use your oblique (abdominal) muscles to provide power to your arms. So while we were out paddling for an hour and a half, the part of me that was tiredest was my lower legs and hamstrings that were keeping my upper body in position to paddle. Who would have known!
After kayaking, there was another bear siting – a big brown bear in a small meadow along the water, about a half mile away, eating meadow vegetation of some kind. 0ed0cc60-edae-11ec-8271-67fe9cd44bd6.jpg We had been told years ago that black bears and brown bears are the same, just different colors, and that grizzlies were different from brown bears. Now, it seems that the experts say that all brown bears in North America are grizzly bears. I’m still not convinced, but that’s what they say.
Supper tonight was a crab fest – Dungeonness crab legs, all you can eat! They also had pork tenderloin for those who weren’t feeling crabby. After supper we had a talk about glaciers by one of our guides who spent 2 summers working on the Mendenhall Glacier up from Juneau.
After the glacier talk, we went up to our room. After a bit, Dan looked out the window and saw the most beautiful rainbow. First it was a partial single rainbow, then we got 2 partial rainbows, one mist bank in front of the other, so the rainbows had different diameters. One stopped where the other began and the rainbow looked broken there. Then the first rainbow went away and the 2nd rainbow continued straight down into the water. It was so vivid and gorgeous; you could see the land and trees through the rainbow colors! Wow, now it’s a double rainbow! Oh, wait, now the other end of the rainbow is strongly visible and both ends of the rainbow go down to the water, with a faint reflection of the bow in the water. I think it was the most fascinating rainbow I’ve ever seen. Rainbow.jpg Unfortunately, none of the double rainbow pictures turned out well.
Bedtime. I checked out our window when I got up at 2:15 for a bathroom visit; it was deep twilight outside, not truly dark. You could still easily see the shapes of the islands in the dim light.
Tomorrow is another day – good night!

Posted by dasafish 19:52 Archived in USA Tagged rainbow bears dawes_glacier

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