Friday, June 15, 2012

Khutze Inlet

Photo: Khutze is scenic, even in the rain

June 9, 2012       Rescue Bay to Khutze Inlet
Day 5
0715 departure. A small humpback whale cruised the waters just outside Rescue Bay, near the entrance to Jackson Passage, a visual treat to start the day. We traveled comfortably in sunshine on calm water along the east side of Princess Royal Island, then took a detour to explore fjordlike Green Inlet. Green was scenic to tour, but much too deep to provide a good anchorage possibilities. At the head of the inlet torrents of water rushed down an impressive stretch of rapids, outfall from a large saltwater lagoon about six feet above the inlet's high tide line. I wonder if that stretch of fast-moving water tempts many kayakers.

After Green we headed to Khutze Inlet for an overnight stay. We hadn’t visited Khutze for many years, and I hadn't thought about it much. Now I vividly recalled days of unending, heavy rain and dismal, heavy fog, a challenging spot to find secure anchorage and too many other boaters... Not my favorite place, can you tell?

Bright sunshine was a bonus this year when we dropped anchor in a prime spot at the base of a a snow chute with a cascading series of waterfalls. The fall's low roar filled the air with a steady, constant thrum.  This spot gave us a terrific view of the wide river estuary, fed by two rivers and ringed by high, snow covered peaks. If I were a grizzly I might choose a location like Khutze; and now we know that at least one sow and her yearling cub like it there. 

The next day it rained, but it didn't matter. Really. We put the RIB in the water and explored the northernmost river at high tide. 

A seal and her pup lazed on a rock, arched at tail and head, working to stay dry as long as possible. 

One river otter swam by to check us out, craned his neck for a better view and then retreated back underwater. Banks of wild flowers (chocolate lilies, cow parsnip, wild celery and others) were in full bloom and the meadows of grass looked abundantly lush. We know grizzlies eat a lot of grass and dig the root bulbs of skunk cabbage, but now I wonder if they enjoy the taste of flowers.

The riverbed was randomly littered with huge trees, some with impressive root systems, swept downstream during spring snowmelt or flooding after heavy rains, evidence that massive quantities of water move through this river system with great force.

Several spots along the riverbanks bubbled with hot springs, but any smell of sulfur dissipated quickly in the wind. We didn't stop to test the water for temperature.

 A mile or so upriver the water grew quite shallow, skimpy even for our inflatable and jet drive, and the tide had begun to ebb, so we turned around to drift downstream towards Rhapsody. A spot of brown, a bit of movement on the far bank caught my eye… omigosh it was a bear. No, there were two grizzlies, splashing along and gobbling up grass at the water’s edge. Can you spot the bear?

We clicked off about 350 photos in half an hour, in between long moments doing nothing but watching those captivating creatures. The sow and her yearling cub were aware of our presence, tracking any noise and lifting noses to sniff the wind, but they never stopped eating. No wonder they looked so healthy and well fed. 

From now on, I'll visualize grizzlies instead of dreary weather when I think of Khutze.



    You have the BEST ever blog posts and photos. Makes us feel like we are there...which we wish we were.

    ox from L. G. and Inky

  2. Thanks, Louisa. We also wish the S/V Martin Eden and crew were cruising with us this year!

  3. Sounds like you guys are off to a good least a very beautiful one in Khutze. Great pictures. You have become a VERY good photographer and blogger!
    (reposted from e-mail - Thanks, Vicki)

  4. Vicki, I can credit RL with great Photoshop/Lightroom work on my first Khutze photo. And yes, we are off to a grand start on this year's cruise.

  5. I am thoroughly enjoying your photographs and writing. We met briefly in Ketchikan last year (MV Morning Star/navy hull Selene 53). I am still posting pics from last year. I appreciate your efforts. Best wishes to you and the Captain on your Alaska 2012 cruise.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement, Donna. I'm working my way through your archives and love to see what you feature from a SE cruise.


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