Baranof Blog & Fishing News
DAY FOUR: A paddle through Rudyerd Bay
Rudyerd Bay is pretty well protected from the winds, making it an ideal body of water to kayak. Our fourth day is the day I remember the most. We left the cove and headed up Rudyerd Bay at low tide and found this amazing beach a mile or so up the bay. The group decided to stop for lunch and laying in the warm sun on the beach. After a few hours, the weather was starting to change and we knew rain was coming. We all decided to head back to camp. The group, for some reason, was in a rush to take-off (I found out later this was a planned departure). As I stood by our kayak watching our friends paddle off, wondering why the hell they were trying to ditch us, I see my partner walk across the beach towards the boats. I, of course (impatient as I am), started to get gruff and stated we need to get going to catch up with the group when I then noticed my partner on a knee with a ring. This was the day of my engagement, and now I forever have to tell that I was ornery and cranky yet still got proposed too.
That night sitting around the campfire reminiscing of the past few days it was the last night of our adventure in the Mistys. The next afternoon we would be picked up and head back to our working lives. This was the night, also, when we discovered why the Misty’s got its name. Once the clouds came in there was an only a slight sun ray beaming through the mist. It was a day, and an evening, to remember.
FINAL DAY: Goodbye, until next time
We were all up early, but I am not sure anyone can ever be completely ready for the rain that Southeast can dish out. Let’s just say it poured all night. We all had tarps over tarps over our tents and the water still got in. We all packed up and put our gear in a dry-ish location to await our pick-up before hiking to Punchbowl lake for the day. The trail was super rough going as there was a lot of blow-down on the trail from some strong winds a few weeks prior, so we did a lot of climbing over and crawling under downed trees. It just proved the point that you can never tell what you will experience on a trip into the wild. Once at the lake, we were sitting under the shelter eating lunch when the sun came out. With the rainfall what it is in Southeast, you appreciate every ray of sunlight you get. Seeing the sun come out for the first time in the Misty Fjords National monument on the first day of engagement to my wonderful partner, however, was something truly beautiful.
DAY TWO: Kayak to Checats Springs
Today we were going to kayak to Checats Springs for a hike, and, if the Behm canal was decent enough, possibly paddle over to New Eddystone rock. The paddle to Checats definitely broke our friends into how powerful the ocean and waves can be. With a headwind and 2-3 ft chop I wasn’t sure, even in double kayaks, if we would ever make it to our destination; for every paddle stroke forward it felt like we went back 3. Finally, we made it into the cove and out of the wind. It took us some time to find the trailhead. The area had been pounded by a storm a few months prior, so there were so many downed trees it made it impossible to know where the trail was at times - especially considering none of us had been here before and cellular devices don’t work in the Misty’s. Not wanting to spend our entire day hiking, we decided we had gone far enough and returned to the beach for lunch and Sun.
As we left the cove on our way back to the cabin we noticed a pod of Dall porpoises heading through the now-glassy waters making their way towards New Eddystone. We also figured this was the perfect opportunity for us to kayak across Behm Canal for a look at The Rock. These were definitely the best conditions I have ever experienced while in the canal; the sun was out, there was no wind, and the water was glass. As we headed for the island, one of the friends started freaking out. They were not a fan of kayaking across this much open water and they hated the fact that they couldn’t see under them. We found out later the reason they were a bit distraught because they thought the Dall porpoises were orcas (“killer” whales), they were sure they were going to tip us from our kayaks and eat us. As one kayak left and headed for the cabin, the rest of us headed across Behm canal towards Eddystone. The paddle across was effortless. The boat slid through the water so gracefully. This was the moment I fell in love with Alaska. Once reaching New Eddystone we took a few hours to enjoy our lunch and hike around until the tide turned and carried us down to the cabin.
DAY THREE: The 12-mile paddle to Punchbowl
We had a slight breeze, but for the most part, the waters were fairly mild. (There’s no better way to experience the waters of Alaska and the beauty they hold than the quiet solitude of a kayak, especially the Misty Fjords. Feet away from thousand-foot vertical granite walls, and inches from the sea’s surface you can’t help but soak in the grandeur; the Misty Fjords are a must see for anyone coming to Alaska. No matter how you get there, however, any Misty trip is worth the time. Each experience is different and something truly special.) By the time we made it to Punchbowl cove everyone was pretty tired from the long paddle that day, so we all set up our tents to prepare for the night. The one thing to keep in mind when doing anything in the backcountry is that we have bears. Although I have never had a bad experience with a bear, I do my best to make sure I don’t put myself in a position where I might. Once our tents were set-up we walked around the cove to prepare our cooking and eating area and find trees to hang our food and supplies in. After dinner, we headed to our sleeping area to start a fire. There is nothing that brings people together quite like a campfire, beers, and stories in the backwoods of Alaska. The beer taste better, the fire feels warmer and the venue for your stories puts any man-made theater to shame.
TO BE CONTINUED...
My partner and I had just recently moved to Ketchikan for an adventure of a lifetime. On our 2-day ferry ride to town, we worked on our Ketchikan/Southeast Alaska bucket list. One of the top items on that list was to visit the Misty Fjords National Monument. To this point all, the sum of our experience with the Mistys was a flightseeing tour out of Ketchikan that included a brief landing on an alpine lake - or information we had read online. The pictures and history of the Ketchikan area were exciting and intriguing to us, especially New Eddystone Rock which was formed at the end of a volcanic vent where magma repeatedly rose to the surface of the earth. How amazing! I knew once I read that I had to go and see Eddystone from a viewpoint most people never get to experience.
After a short time in Ketchikan, we had found the joy of exploring the area by kayak. That is where the idea of kayaking through the Misty Fjords was born. Anyone who has been to Ketchikan / Southeast Alaska knows the hardest thing with exploring is all the logistics and planning that is required. You can’t just plan a trip for 3-days. Storms and weather can come in fast around here and, the next thing you know, your 3-days trip has turned into a week. However, that is a different story. Being new to town and not owning our boat was one of the biggest obstacles we had in the beginning. We were lucky, however, that you can find private charter boats to take you to different locations throughout Southeast…
Because we felt this was going to be an adventure of a lifetime, we invited a group of friends and their partners from Idaho to join us. This proved to be an excellent idea, though stressful. Being the most experienced of the group (which meant having an entire year of experience of living in Alaska), we were deemed as the most knowledgeable and the experienced for leading the voyage. If they only knew our knowledge only consisted of how much it rained in Southeast, I wonder if they still would have trusted us as much as they did.
DAY ONE: The Adventure Begins
The route we had chosen included a stay for a few nights at Punchbowl cove, then kayaking to Winstanley Island Cabin for the remaining two nights. To give our friends a different perspective of the adventure we were about to head out on, we decided to send them by float plane for a bird’s eye view of the area while my partner and I boated out with all of our gear and kayaks in the water taxi/private charter. Just before we were about to depart we told our friends, “NO MATTER what, if you arrive at Punchbowl and we are not there, DO NOT GET OUT OF THE PLANE. We have all of your gear and supplies. We are your life-line in the Alaskan wilderness.” This was the first broken rule.
The boat ride to the Misty’s was breathtaking; the waters were somewhat calm and the sun was coming through the clouds. Our captain was amazing, giving us local advice of where he suggested we drop our crab pots while at the cabin. The captain also wanted to show us an old petroglyph in the area and to see the new Winstanley cabin himself, so we decided to go by the cabin on our way to Punchbowl cove - a choice that ended up changing the entire trip. As we were circling the cabin and going through an area that is covered in water at high tide but dry on a really low tide, we hit a sunken log. That log destroyed the prop of the boat. Our captain, being the experienced sailor that he was, started the kicker and headed to the cabin so he could call for help. When we arrived at Winstanley, the Forest Service maintenance crew was just putting the last touches on the cabin. Lucky for us, the cabin was available two-days ahead of schedule. “Perfect! We will do our trip backward,” we decided. Now to relay that information to the rest of the group…
Our friends departed Ketchikan by floatplane an hour later. Final destination; Punchbowl Cove. This was the group’s first time in Alaska, so they had no idea what was in store for their time in the Alaskan wilderness. The only regret we have is not seeing their faces when they flew through the Misty’s. What I do know is they saw a pod of Orcas by Eddystone, which caused someone later in the adventure a little bit of a panic situation. There was so much to take in they had forgotten the one rule we had told them before we parted ways. They were so excited to look around, not realizing at the time we were stranded at the cabin with all of the gear, food, and the kayaks, they left the plane and decided to wander around and wait for us because we should be there at any moment. Thankfully, the pilot of the floatplane decided to look for us on his way back to town. He came by the cabin and we were able to flag him down. Once he landed we explained the situation and how there was no way we could make it to the group by nightfall. So, the decision was made; he would go back and pick up the group and bring them to the cabin.
Wow!! The cabin was awesome, and we were its first occupants. We moved in quickly, ready to get in our gear and head out on the water in our kayaks to drop the crab pots and show the group the petroglyphs on the wall the captain of our boat had pointed out earlier. That night the excitement of the week to come was high. The fire was perfect, the crab pots empty, but the moods were high.
TO BE CONTINUED….
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