Showing posts from July, 2011

Friday 29th July 2011

Friday 29th July 2011
Woke up thinking that I really should check my flight, it was either departing at 12:10 or perhaps 10:12... Quick dash to repack, do my Hostel chore and call a taxi to get me to the airport for the 10:12 flight 61 to Anchorage via Yakutat and Cordova!Had a breakfast of coffee and cookie and checked my emails. My choice of the flight, with stopovers, was good as we have been getting great views of the mountains and vast ice fields feeding innumerable glaciers which have large out wash fans stretching miles across the plains that separate the mountains from the sea. The airports at Yakutat and Cordova are little more than a runway and a small collection of buildings with a few bush planes on oversized tyres parked up. It is quite suprising that this flight is the first time I have encountered the grossly obese Americans we all hear about. Two very large people have squeezed their way down the aisle here in Cordova. There is a lady in the seat in front of me, well s…

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Return to Juneau 27-7-2011

Return to Juneau 27-7-2011 I ate my breakfast on the beach with the usual accompaniment of about six humpbacks feeding on the krill and small fish. I reluctantly packed up camp intending to take a walk along Bartlett's cove to look for Black bears. Luckily I asked at the Lodge when the bus for the ferry was leaving and found that it was an hour earlier than I had been planning for. Took the free green bus the ten miles to the port at Gustavus along with about 30 other campers and guests of the Lodge. The the Le Conte was docked already and we were allowed on straight away which was good as it had started raining and they have not yet built a shelter for passengers. Once on board, I got a seat in the viewing lounge and then went in search of lunch! Halibut and chips went down well then I went back to my seat and promptly fell asleep only waking at Juneau four hours later! By now it was raining steadily. I was traveling with a Spanish guy called Jose who had just spent 14 days …

Trip round Glacier Bay 26-7-2011

Trip round Glacier Bay 26-7-2011

I had a good nights sleep waking first at 04:30 as the dawn broke but went back to sleep again till 06:30. Made it to the dock a 1/4 mile down the bay reedy to board The Baronoff Wind which is the my 6th boat in 6 days of travel. The shortest being the six hour trip it took to travel here from Juneau.! The boat is a cat built in 1986 in Washington, but designed in Australia,with 3 decks two enclosed and one open. Australia also seems to have a monopoly on life rafts for ferries. The weather was not good as we set off into mist limiting the visibility to 1/2
a mile but as we headed north and west up the bay it began to improve and by the time we got to South Marble island there was a break in the drizzle which meant we got good views of Stella sealions, sea otters, Tufted Puffin, Black legged kittiwake. Later on we saw Parasitic jaeger chasing black legged kittiwakes, Glaucous-winged gulls, Bonaparte gulls, marbled and Kittlitz's murelettes, pidg…

Monday 25th July Juneau - Glacier National Park

Monday 25th July Juneau - Glacier National ParkDespite packing before going to bed, getting up at 05:10 was difficult. I sleep very well but noticed that the bunk below me was empty... so maybe there was some snoring involved!I shared a taxi with two others who were going to the airport which is on the way to the ferry terminal. It was only on the way that I remembered that my nice warm coat and camera battery charger were still in the hostel! It turned out that the driver was going back to pick up the other five people in the hostel who were also going on the ferry so the day was saved! Reunited with my possessions we left Juneau at 07:00 in a smaller version of the ferry that brought me up from Prince Rupert. It was full and the only space left was in the solarium on the top deck, under the blazing heaters. It is a six hour voyage with a stop at Hoonah after four. I had oatmeal and maple syrup with a cup of tea for breakfast for $4.5. There were humpbacks performing in the bay at…

Juneau Sunday 24th July

Juneau Sunday 24th JulyAfter being dropped off at the hostel it took a little while for me to realize that it was shut until 17:00 and that there was a storage room round the back for luggage. Once I had dropped the bag off I went down town to try and find a way to get to Gustavus on Monday. On the way I found an outdoor shop and got a proper map of the Juneau area showing the route of 'hikes' up the mountains surrounding the town and the Mendenhall glacier which comes down into the northern suburbs of the town. Also remembered to get a gas canister for the stove. The sea front is totally dominated by the vast cruise ships which tower over the town. It seems that the passengers generally don't stray more than a street or two on foot but are busses en masse to the various attraction before getting back for their obligatory shopping in the mortise of jewelry and fur stores. Exactly the same ones that they get to see in Ketchikan and, I suspect, all the stops down the cruise…

Prince Rupert - Juneau Part 2

Prince Rupert - JuneauPart II: Ketchikan - Wrangell - Petersburg
Departed Ketchikan on time at 7pm. Steamed past the airport whose runway has seemingly been carved out of the side of a mountain and has precipitous sides which go down about 100 ft to the water... Not a place to run off the runway! Found the bar open but quite empty so tried out a couple of beers to keep the bartender company. Alaska IPA and Alaskan Summer Ale both from the micro brewery in Juneau. The IPA is 6.5% and has a good hoppy taste but is served cold and is slightly carbonated. The Summer Ale is a ' Kolsch style ale' and just another lager as far as I am concerned!Went for a final stroll round the decks before retiring to the reclining lounge which was more comfortable than the plastic pool loungers on the open and heated, yes, HEATED solarium!03:55 24th July.
Woke as we left Wrangell but back to sleep until we got to Petersburg. The approach to Petersburg was through a very narrow channel. The town loo…

Prince Rupert - Juneau Part 1

Prince Rupert - Juneau
Now aboard the MV Mat... and back an hour just by stepping onboard! That means it was a 4:30 rather than the 5:30 am start, it could be a long day...The weather has reverted to drizzle which is normal for this part of the world.Yesterday was gloriously sunny and warm. It was the perfect day to take a trip aboard a RIB and watch Grizzly bears. The trip cost a lot, but 6 hrs of cruising at 35-40knts through islands and narrow channels and then close up viewing of mother bears and cubs. They are BIG! They were right down at the waters edge munching endlessly on the sawgrass that grows on the alluvial fans. We 1st saw a mother and single cub. They were wandering slowly along a fairly narrow stretch of grass munching all the time. The cub looked out of place because it had a pale head with black ears and eye patches... a panda! We moved on past the floating green Park Rangers hut nestled at the foot of a steep wooded slope that extended up behind to 1000 ft or more…

Port Hardy-Prince Rupert

Port Hardy-Prince Rupert
The 4:30 start was difficult! I slept well on the top bunk of a dormitory with 2 others. Cup of coffee and a quick wash before we,about 10 hostelers, passembled outside the hostel under the orange glow of street lamps in a fine drizzle waiting for the classic yellow school bus to pick us up (CAD$7.5). The bus toured round the small hotels and hostels before heading to the ferry terminal. Bags and passengers were checked in, to be collected in PR, and we were let on board at 6:15. I had paid CAD$ 35 to reserve a seat in the Aurora lounge. My seat is a very comfortable reclining leather(?), front row seat with a great panoramic view over the bows.8:35
Heading out past Scarlett point and pine island to cross Queen Charlotte sound with a slight swell coming in from the NW.Took advantage of the all you can eat breakfast buffet in the restaurant. Staffordshire pottery, fresh linen, flowers on the table and polite efficient service. Spotted a couple of porpoises and…

Horseshoe Bay -Port Hardy

Horseshoe Bay -Port Hardy
Leg I :The Burrard Inn to Main st Greyhound bus station.
Alarm went off at 0510 quick wash and brush up then cramming everything into the rucksacks before heading downstairs to settle the bill... An expensive, if comfortable, stay in a recently revamped 1950s motel. All clean white walls with minimalist furniture but a very comfy bed. And a large Mac for the guests to use and print from free of charge. Free wifi to but No meals..Having paid the bill I set of down Burrard towards the waterfront and took the SkyTrain to Main. Checked inat the Greyhound desk.. like an airport, amain bag got weighed in at 36lbs. The sky was lightening and the drizzle seemed to be setting in. The ride to Horseshoe Bay Terminal takes about 15 mins and then we were escorted through the ferry check in by the bus driver. I followed the general flow of people onto the ferry and ended up in the cafeteria where Belgian waffles and strawberries made a nice breakfast ($9+ after tax). Then …

Last minute things...

I tested out my old raincoat in this mornings rain and it failed miserably... thats why I am getting a new one!
Been busy booking places to stay, and making contact with my 2nd cousins in and around Vancouver. Looking forward to meeting some for the first time and some for the first time since the 1970s.

Equipment for adventure...

I don't want to lug a heavy load around on my travels so am aiming to keep all my katundu below 15kg. Might not be possible but that is my target.
This is the tent I shall be learning to live in for a fair amount during the course of my N American adventure. A Mountain Equipment AR Ultralite 2 weighing in at 1.5kg which is not as ultra light as you can get but does have a greater resistance to water which I hope I will appreciate when it pours as it seems likely to do! I may leave the poles behind and use my Leki walking poles instead which will reduce the weight by 200g! I will also carry a lightweight sleeping mat which rolls up very small and only weighs 750g.
This is the minimalist stove which weighs 425g and is ideal for all the freeze-dry food I'll pick up in Vancouver to keep me going between the occasional coffee shop or fast food place I might happen to drop into.... for the free wifi so I can update this blog, not for the breakfast pancakes or muffins or the odd burge…