We woke up to sunny skies this morning and an extremely low tide. The full moon and solstice made for a -4.65 ft low tide. That is nearly five feet below the average low tide! We arrived at Cascade Creek as the sun was just cresting over the coast range, sending soft filtered light beams in between massive old growth trees. The spray from Cascade Falls sparkled in the air and settled on the lush vegetation that has flourished in the presence of a constant water source. The hiking took us up into the forest along the raging creek, climbing up rock stairs and hurdling roots and downed trees. The sun was shining, illuminating the broad leaves of devil’s club. We passed several piles of moose scat and heard the song of the Pacific wren unseen from the understory. It was great to get off the ship and stretch our legs; the incredible weather was a real treat for Southeast Alaska.
In the afternoon, we sailed south to Le Conte Bay. This bay is geologically confined by an old terminal moraine left behind by Le Conte Glacier. This moraine creates a shallow bar that keeps the icebergs swirling in the tidal influx just on the other side. It is reminiscent of visiting a sculpture park, only the massive influx of water over the bar generates a lot of tidal mixing. This brings a lot of food to the surface, resulting in aggregations of birds and other wildlife that collect here to forage. With the outgoing tide and wind, we had an adventurous ride back to the ship, but it would not be an expedition without a little adventure.
We capped off the night with a transit through the Wrangell Narrows. The wind died, the light was soft; it was a beautiful night. We passed fish camps and there were small fishing boats all along this passage, fishing in the last hours of daylight. Some even displayed their catch, king salmon, as we passed by. It really was a great finish to the day.