Monday, February 11, 2013

Visitors, a Road Trip, and Kayaking in the Bay

Kayaking in Warm Springs Bay

We had a great day last week to take a little paddle in the kayaks--the rain stopped, the sun came out (almost), and there was no wind.  We paddled up to the townsite--you can see Baranof Falls and some of the cabins in "town" straight ahead.

Baranof Falls runs harder in the summer, but will all the rain we've had this winter, it still has a pretty healthy flow.

Anytime you do anything with Jen, you have to stop for lots of photos!

This could be a poster for the definition of "calm water".

You can see how clear the water is in the winter as we paddle over some shallows.  We get plankton blooms in the summer that actually make the water much murkier.

Paddling back to the lodge.

We made it!

 A Visit from the M/V Lituya

Our friends Chase and Hillary Bell stopped by the bay not too long ago.  They were delivering propane up to a place in Hood Bay on Admiralty Island, so they stopped by for a quick visit on their way back to Petersburg.

Their boat, the Lituya, is a big landing craft.  They run freight and supplies to remote areas in Southeast Alaska.  The night they got here it was calm enough for them to tie up to the lodge dock.

Since they were sitting there with all that propane, we topped up as many empty tanks as we could find here at the lodge.
These 25-gallon tanks weigh about 170 pounds when full.  We had over 30 of them and it was a high tide project to haul them back up to the storage area out behind the workshop.  That was over 5000 pounds of propane tanks to lug up the ramp and boardwalk.  Jen had such a good time, she has kept a small tank on a hand truck.  Now when she walks the boardwalk for exercise we can say she is walking the propane.

A trip to Admiralty Island

We've been waiting for a calm day to take the skiff across Chatham Strait to visit our friends Dave and Anke who are caretaking at Tyee.  Tyee is the site of an abandoned cannery site and whaling station located in Murder Cove on the south side of Admiralty Island.  Chatham Strait in winter is known for big wind and waves.  Last month we had a day with a relatively calm forecast of 15 kts and 3 foot seas and decided to go for it.  We threw a bunch of extra safety gear into the boat, donned all the clothes we could find, and headed out.  When we got just outside the bay we hit a wave that threw Jen off her seat in the bow.  I can't repeat exactly what she said, but it was to the effect of, "Please, Rick, I would like to return to the lodge right now!" So, the trip got postponed for a while.

A perfect day finally graced us a few weeks later and off we went.  It was a perfect day--glassy water and dry.  We buzzed across in about 45 minutes (the skiff goes pretty fast in flat water).  We passed a pod of Dall's Porpoise, saw Steller Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Bald Eagles, and watched a Cormorant catch and eat (more like swallow in one great gulp) a rock fish.
Sea Otters checking us out
I't's hard to tell, but this Muppet-like critter is the cormorant finishing off his big Gulp 'O Fish--you can see how much fatter his neck is than usual.
These two eagles are sitting watching over the navigation tower on Point Gardner, where on a normal winter day we would never be able to sit and watch, because of how rough and nasty the current and waves are.

The head of Murder Cove is very protected and very shallow.  A lot of it goes dry at low tide.  Dave and Anke pulled their boat up at high tide when they first got to Murder Cover and will leave it high and dry until they're ready to leave.

Hiking back to the cabin for lunch, you can see the new lodge on the left side as well as the fog that rolled in.  Murphy's Law says that the first foggy day you see in months will happen on the day you're miles from home across a big body of water.  I borrowed a little hand-held compass from Dave and somehow we managed to find our way home.  I'd rather be lucky than good any day!
Dave and Anke in front of the cabin they stay in while caretaking.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February Feral Fotos

Feral loves being here at the lodge--she has the run of the place and only has to worry about martens and brown bears to dogs!

"He went that way!"

Should I climb the flagpole today?


Somebody is ready to come in!

Who will blink first?

Headed down the toilet trail--much harder at high tide.

Helping clean up after a crab feed.

After cleaning up......

Nothing like reading a good book on a rainy afternoon.

More evidence of Global Warming.

Alaskan Flamingos and Alligators.

February Update

A funny thing happened to winter in disappeared!  We have had mostly warm (34 degrees) and wet conditions since our 8 feet of snow in December.  We have had a few snowfalls to bring us up to about 10 feet for the winter.
Here's a shot of the bay looking towards "town" and  Baranof Falls.
Looking across the bay towards the lodge and Melinda's house on the same calm day.

We're gaining about four and a half minutes of light every day.  On clear days, we might even have an hour of direct sunlight now!

Sunrise lighting up a few of the peaks across the bay.

Jen took this shot of the moon just cresting the ridge across from the lodge.

Looking up at the lodge from the dock after one of our rare January snowfalls.

Out in the skiff on a sunny crisp day. 

Harris Air brought some supplies in for us in January. We had a group of friends try to fly in for a visit, but they got bumped in Seattle and didn't make it to Sitka. We were sad they didnt' get here, but were cheered up by the load of groceries and Christmas goodies that did make it.
Pilot Mark Hacket, playing Santa, ties up to our float plane dock.
Offloading supplies from the De Havilland Beaver.

Our neighbor Jackie has her skiff loaded up and heads to "town" in the falling snow.  Jackie and Keith caretake the dozen cabins, boardwalk and dock at the Baranof townsite.

Jen volunteers to take pictures while I move all our supplies up to the lodge.  This is one of the rare times that the plane came in close to high tide so the ramp wasn't too steep!

This was the first plane in a couple months, so we had a nice stack of Christmas cards to enjoy.

The Christmas tree moves out to the deck in January--without the ornaments, of course.
The martens that had been living in the store in "town" have either all been relocated or they moved out when the weather warmed up.  We ended up catching 11 total, although we know that we caught one (Number Nine) at least three times.

On my last relocation, I got out of the skiff, gave the marten a quick spray paint job and released him.  This took maybe 5 minutes tops.  When I got back into the skiff, the falling tide had grounded it on a rock.  I couldn't push it off with an oar, so had to radio our neighbor Keith to come get me in his skiff.  We anchored the stern off, so the boat would be floating on the next day's high tide.  Here is Keith taking me back out to pick up the skiff.
These two flamingos flew from Eugene (home of the University of Oregon Ducks) to Sitka on Alaska Airlines, then arrived with the load on Harris Air.  We gave them a place of honor by the flagpole, where they can rest their weary wings after such a long flight.

They immediately burrowed down to insulate themselves with snow.

This is our resident belted kingfisher--we see him most days.

We have lots of Barrow's Goldeneye who winter in the bay.

Surf Scoters

This Mallard decided to take a nap in the snow squall.

This bald eagle took an early morning rest in the Heron Tree, as the moon was starting to set.   You can usually count on eagles sitting in one place for as long as an hour, but of course this guy gave Jen a challenge and only sat there for about 4 or 5 minutes. 

And now you know why we call it the Heron Tree!
Fish for dinner!