All of a sudden, things got busy. We made our open ocean crossing around Cape Caution without mishap. The seas were relatively calm, though definitely different from our usual sheltered inland waters. The ocean swell creates an ever-moving picture as you look out the window. The view undulates up and down in every direction, and it is a sensation that takes some getting used to. On top of the swell, there may be waves driven by wind and current. Our trusty Voyager brought us safely through both swell and waves, and it was not as fearful an experience as we had anticipated.
More long travel days followed, and finally it was time to cross into US waters. We were able to accomplish our customs check-in via cell phone. This was an advantage to us, because it meant we could go exploring before going to Ketchikan, the port of entry. We opted to explore an area whose very name is captivating: Misty Fiords.
Living in the foothills of central California, Yosemite is a familiar and beloved national park that we enjoy visiting. Misty Fiords is a lot like Yosemite in that there are huge granite walls, glaciated slabs and chasms, waterfalls galore, and amazing views in every direction. The difference between the two areas is that Misty Fiords is accessible only by boat. The granite cliffs come right down into the water, as do the waterfalls after falling hundreds of feet from melting snows and high lakes. Another difference is that the area is huge – much larger than Yosemite. We picked out a Half Dome, El Capitan, Cloud’s Rest, and Royal Arches that were equivalent formations to what is seen in Yosemite. There was just so much more of it! It is so big and majestic that photographs don’t do it justice, but here are a few:
After being on the boat for 2 weeks, we were a little anxious to get onto dry land and walk around. Our first day at Misty Fiords was very misty, so we dressed in our yellow rain slickers, got into the dinghy, and headed for shore. We discovered that the slickers (which came with the boat) are not completely waterproof, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. We beached the dinghy and set off on our first hike in Alaska.
And then… Bear scat in the trail. A big pile of it! Gulp. (I do have pictures, but I’ll spare you). Because of the rain, we couldn’t tell how fresh it was. We decided to continue on, but we were very watchful, and a little nervous. The “boardwalk” was a bit misleading, because it consisted of rotting, slippery logs and boards which were in need of upkeep. Each step was a challenge, and each of us ended up falling down in the mud at least once. We were a sight!
Eventually we reached the waterfall overlook, and decided to head back to the boat. On the way back, we ran across a new pile of bear scat that was definitely fresh. High alert! We reached the trailhead and started for the dinghy. Across the meadow from us was a grizzly bear! We wanted to see bears, but not necessarily close up, so we California kids are rethinking our hiking habits. We are suddenly aware that we are not at the top of the food chain. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.