Saturday, July 26, 2014

Baranof Warm Springs: a stay in the south cove

The Baranof Warm Springs dock was full of pleasure boats, without a single seine boat in sight. That shouldn't have been a surprise since we hadn’t noticed any seiners working in Chatham Strait either. Where are they fishing this month? [update: the Petersburg seine fleet ran to openings in the outside waters near Craig & Noyes Island instead of the inside channels where we've seen them in past years] We anchored at the head of the scenic south cove, close to shore but in 80 feet of water. This lovely spot feels like we’re sitting in the middle of a high mountain lake surrounded by peaks and alpine meadows, but of course we’re in salt water at sea level. We threw on the raingear, jumped in the skiff and ran across the bay to the dock to visit, to hike the trail uphill, and for me to pick berries. Ripe salmonberries, blueberries and huckleberries were plentiful in easy-to-reach patches. Score! I restrained myself and only nibbled on a few salmonberries while I harvested – that's easy to do when you know it's the blueberries that often house tiny worms. Worms ick! No problem. If you don’t want the added protein, toss the blueberries into a bowl of cold water and the worms come wiggling out.

Courtney Hann of the Alaska Whale Foundation shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for a citizen involvement project she initiated this summer. Check out the foundation's website, it's loaded with fascinating stuff; research reportsvideos, recordings and fascinating factoids. Besides project information, Courtney also shared a jar of her delicious homemade Blueberry Jam, and I gave her a container of my sourdough starter and an herb bouquet. Mmmmmm, the jam and sourdough starter were a dynamite duo for the next morning's Belgian waffles. 

It’s been too wet, windy and lumpy to run the dinghy back to the dock, but I really want need Courtney’s recipe for those Blueberry Preserves. (note: days later when we moved to the dock Courtney shared the secret – lemon zest and a touch of cinnamon.)

Drenching downpours, 25-knot winds and white-capped swells rolling inside the main bay kept us anchored for several days, comfortably tucked around the corner in our sheltered cove. It rained so hard that wispy waterfalls turned into thundering torrents and new streams appeared everywhere carrying the sudden runoff. Even the eagles hunkered down on limbs and drift, looking miserable instead of majestic. (Click on the photo above and see if you agree.)

We processed a gazillion photos from a major grizzly viewing adventure (more about that later in another post), Ron worked on boat projects, I baked French bread baguettes and a batch of  Cruising Cookies and - What? - Is that a new rock? - The rock moved! Ron had spotted a bear moving quickly up the creek. We’ve never seen a grizzly here before, but one appeared briefly in the stream at the head of south cove. Recent rains account for new waterfalls and increased flow in the shallow streambeds, but what brought a bear?! Was he looking for pink salmon, checking to see if any had returned yet (they haven’t). Or did the fruit-laden berry bushes attract him? Heavy rain, low clouds and fog, the distance to shore and a fast-moving bear made this more of a viewing moment than a photo op, but the photo shows there WAS a grizzly in Baranof Warm Springs’ south cove this year.

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