I slurp the last vestiges of meat from a fresh (and I mean fresh) crab claw, feet up and reclining back as the last energies of the sun expire into the mist of this Alaskan wonderland. The silence is only broken by the gentle lapping of water into the towering granite walls and against the boats sides. A lone brown bear continues grazing on the nutritious sedges and grasses of the foreshore. Bald eagles soar overhead, eyes scanning for an evening snack and for their voracious chicks. Harbor seals maintain a cautious watch over the whole scene.
The mist settles lower over the fjord like a protective and warming blanket, dimming any remaining light from the near-full moon and the setting sun. Even the brightest stars would not twinkle tonight.
Earlier, sea planes galore buzzed and darted around like demented crickets, dwarfed against the immense sea cliffs which rear some 3000 feet straight out of the ocean. Speedy boats rushed in and out with no time to spare from the nearby Alaskan townships to give travelers but a fleeting glimpse of this spectacular fjordland. Waterfalls tumbled carelessly down the enveloping sea walls weaving a well worn path through the mosaic rock patterns twisted and contorted over the geological ages, splashing into the oceans below. It was the wilderness equivalent of downtown bargain shopping on the opening day of specials.
But the noise and hum-drum of the day had now passed, everyone had returned home and the lone African Queen sat majestically in a protected cove. Steve and K.A. tended to the last chores of the day, the boat was a grand dame and needed a little tending as she settled in for the evening. The three of us looked on in silent respect, overwhelmed by the scale of Misty Fjords National Monument, before settling into our bunks for the night.
Morning arose but lifting the misty blanket unveiled no change. Our trusty brown bear contentedly grazed on mouthfuls of foreshore greenery, mixing this with the occasional berry from a nearby bush. He could pluck these single berries with the aplomb of the finest florist. Eagles flew overhead ever alert for a potential feed. The harbor seal maintained his guard duty with only a devilish eye appearing above the waterline.
From afar, a dull drone slowly increases in volume – the first of the tourists had arrived for the day and the wonderful peace of this true wonderland had broken for the day. Soon after, our African Queen herself groaned into action so we too could search for another serene cove hidden in the mist and fog in the wide expanses of Misty Fjords National Monument.
About the Trip
We took the MS Hyak, a wonderful old style 52 foot boat from Ketchikan, in the southern end of South-East Alaska on a ten day journey around the 3,500 square miles of Misty Fjords National Monument and north to Petersburg. The coves of Rudyerd Bay and Walker Cove are especially beautiful.