Thursday, August 13, 2015

Haines, Alaska

Haines is all the way at the top of the Inside Passage.  The city allows one cruise ship per week.   It was originally an army outpost, that is now a sleepy, artist colony.  Boats bring tourists from Skagway.  As we sailed up the Lynn Canal, it was easy to see why John Muir loved the Inside Passage and the Glacier Bay area.  To the north were multiple mountain peaks, which boast the best heli skiing in the world.

We saw lots of whales along the way...I'm very good at photographing the end of a spout!

An island with a lighthouse.

Davidson Glacier from afar.

Coastal range.

Glacier with water fall.

The pier at Haines.  Different.

We walked around the town, looked at some artists shops, and found this enchanting garden of wildflowers.  The proprietor of the shop, Fred, said Sarah Palin was intellectually celibate and terminally ignorant.  He had actually met her, as he was the former mayor of Haines.

Our shore excursion was called a Wilderness Glacier Safari.  We boarded an enclosed boat (woo hoo!) and traveled to Glacier Point, where we were met by some naturalists, who actually live there.  They have cabins with no facilities.  Ten of them spend the summer in this remote area.  They outfitted us with life vests and tall rubber boots.  We boarded a 25 year old, 4 wheel drive International bus.  The buses winter there.  We rode to a drop off point, then hiked about a half mile back to the glacier lake.  We saw mushrooms, like this one...Alice in Wonderland!  We were told not to touch anything, as there are poisonous plants that are toxic if you just touch them, the toxins absorb through the skin.  Yikes.

Then we saw our canoes.  They put 8 of us in each canoe, we paddled away from the shore, then the guide started the motor.  The water flowed towards us, and was too strong to paddle against.  As an aside, the guides disassemble these canoes every end of summer, and remove them to Skagway.  They're too big to maneuver on the narrow road our bus traveled.  Then, they are reassembled in the spring.

As we approached the glacier, it became's called a katabatic wind, which is created by the cold air of the glacier rolling down the glacier and meeting up with the warm air below.  The guides said it was the worst they had ever experienced, because it was warm in Haines and the glacier area.  Beautiful weather that caused a miserable condition.

That spec in the distance is a canoe.  Size perspective.

The lake is formed by the receding glacier, and the beach is called moraine.  As the glacier pushes forward, it grinds the granite/basalt/earth along its sides, and creates a dirt,stone terrain.  Some plants actually grow on it.  Nothing lives in the water, too cold.  We hiked about 1/2 mile over the moraine (it was miserable, uneven footing into the wind) to get to the glacier, into 30 mph friend Kee calls it the Davidson Microdermabrasion Facial Treatment.  Sometimes the wind would push us backward.  You can see the dirt blown over the water.

This gives an idea about size....see the people off in the distance..

As we approached the glacier, we could see people on it, on the right side.

And then we were there!  Beautiful color, waterfalls, it was spectacular.  The wind was worth it.

The underside of the ice cave was navy light, showing pure blue color of water.

You can see how the melting ice and waterfalls cause crevices in the ice, thus calving.

Looks like this ice will be breaking off soon....look at the bozos repelling down the side.  We saw one of them lose his clamp on.  Fortunately, he hadn't gone down too far, and his buddies were able to pull him up.

We headed back, with the wind at our backs...yeah!  The coastal mountains are beautiful.

Not too long after we returned, we left Haines, heading for Juneau.  This was the closest we've ever been to a glacier, and now we can appreciate how they formed valleys, canyons.

Another beautiful Alaskan sunset.