Glacier Bay to Tenakee Hot Springs

(Mostly copied verbatim from our journal)


Day 64, August 4--Barlett Cove (Glacier Bay) to Point Adolphus (Chichagof Island)--15 miles

David feeling ill as he went to sleep last night—cramping and nausea.  Better by morning.  Rain pretty much all night—thankful we had tarp up.  Forecast for east wind 15 knots, so decided to wait until afternoon and then paddle to Point Gustavus. 

Showered, then talked with Ranger Fay, who'd been here 5 years and knows some of the local authors/photographers we've been reading about.  Hamburger from Lodge for lunch. 

Loaded and left 2:25PM in fog.  Made good time with ebb current.  To Point Gustavus by 4:45PM, but fog lifting and NW breeze convinced us to go on.  Wind gradually veered to east about 10 knots, with some rain.  Got to Point Adolphus at 7:45PM. 

Some trouble finding landing spot in small swell, but finally found patch of sand near the point.  Another camp about half mile west of us, probably whale researchers we think.  Several whale-watching tour boats in area before dark.  A few whales, and many no-see-ums and larger biting bugs.


Sea otters watch us near Point Gustavus (Glacier Bay)


After crossing Icy Strait from Point Gustavus, we approach Point Adolphus


Day 65, August 5--Point Adolphus (Chichagof Island) to Halibut Island--14 miles

Rained all night.  Heard whales blowing many times during night, but only several whales appear to be in area.  Also much engine noise throughout night from boats passing in Icy Strait.  Pearl set alarm for 12:15 AM to check tide level relative to camp—ample margin.  David had lower left side abdominal pain in night and on first awakening in AM—kidney stone?  Woke about 7 AM, then David went back to sleep till after 9 AM.  Rain had stopped by then. 

Left at 11:40AM.  Sailed for an hour and a half though didn't go far due to contrary current.  Headed in toward shore to pick up favorable eddies while paddling.  Much boat traffic in Icy Strait.  A few trollers, lots of tour boats taking cruise ship passengers from cruise ships at Hoonah to Point Adolphus to whale-watch.  Brief periods of weak sun, light and variable winds.  Got to Halibut Island about 5:30PM. 

David spent half hour finding suitable tent spot.  Both tired and so enjoying cozy spot just inside forest under tarp.  Slight misting.  Singing helped to pass the time while paddling.  Have memorized about 10 songs on the trip so far.


We enjoy sailing down Icy Strait


Pearl takes a break from paddling in Icy Strait


We tie off to a piece of bull kelp to keep from drifting and have lunch in Icy Strait


Day 66, August 6--Halibut Island to east of Eight Fathom Bight (Chichagof Island)--17 miles

Set alarm for 7AM, but got up closer to 8AM and to clearing skies.  Packed and left by 8:50AM.  Paddled into Hoonah by 9:20AM, passing cruise ship along the way as they disgorged passengers. 

Docked at Hoonah Trading and 2 blocks east found Misty Bay Lodge, where we got breakfast  Then toured town including native carvers.  Picked up groceries at Hoonah Trading and departed about 1 PM.  Lots of cruise ship tourists in town.  Sunny, 10-12 knot north wind which we rode under sail all the way down Port Frederick to camp just shy of Eight Fathom Bight.  Arrived about 5:30PM. 

Collected mussels and beach asparagus to mix with stroganoff for dinner.  Mussels, as usual, somewhat gritty.  Not sure how to get rid of that.  Lots of flies, but otherwise pleasant warm evening until sun went down.  Did a little laundry in nearby stream.  Lots of thimble berries along beach—OK, but not terribly tasty.


Native village of Hoonah


A revival of native customs in Hoonah includes woodcarving


We sail toward the head of Port Frederick


Day 67, August 7--Eight Fathom Bight to Tenakee Inlet (via portage)--8 miles

Leisurely morning, knowing we didn't need to be at portage much before high tide—up about 8 AM, had breakfast then packed.  Off by about 10:30AM.  Still mostly sunny, with some clouds.  Eased up inlet toward portage site.  Watched crab boat working pots.  Lots of crab pots toward head of inlet. 

Got to tidal stream area shortly before 1 PM, ahead of high tide of 14.9 feet around 2PM.  Slowly paddled and walked the boat up as far as tide allowed, then ate lunch standing beside boat.  David went on to reconnoiter, and we started portage about 2 PM where it was clear we couldn't float any further.  Schlepped kayak and gear in stages for about 800 feet, mostly over faint path at edge of tidal stream.  Then came to slough, which saltwater appears to reach on highest tides. 

Piled gear in kayak and paddled to west end of slough.  Incredibly thick sucking muck at end of slough.  Pearl had to literally pull boots out with hands at each step, otherwise could not walk.  Pearl tended boat and David schlepped gear up to forest trail which was excellent.  Trail only about 300 feet long, and improved with log terraces.  Finally got kayak and all gear to grassy bank of Tenakee Inlet by 4:15PM.  Mostly sunny and quite hot during portage.  Both felt very tired and we sat and relaxed for a few minutes.

Loaded kayak and departed from there at 5 PM and paddled a couple miles down Tenakee Inlet before stopping at a point with cobble beach and stream.  Many sighs of tiredness as we ate, but good to have it completed.  Bathed in stream after dinner.


West end of Port Frederick to Tenakee Inlet portage.  (camera facing west)


We enter the tidal creek about an hour before high tide.  (camera facing west)


Then get out and lead boat as tide comes up.  (camera facing west)


East slough visible on left, but its better to avoid it.  Although there is a trail from the west end of the east slough across to the east end of the west slough, it would be difficult to carry a double kayak over it.  (camera facing west)


This is the beginning of the portage on a 14.9 foot tide.  From here, kayak and gear have to be carried about 800 feet to the west slough.  (camera facing west)


Schlepping kayak and gear about 800 feet to the west slough.  (camera facing west)


West slough.  (camera facing west)


We both agreed that the boot-sucking mud here at the west end of the west slough was the worst part of the portage.


Great trail for the last 300 feet to Tenakee Inlet.  (camera facing west)


Finally across the portage to Tenakee Inlet.  (camera facing west)


Cairn marking the west end of the portage at Tenakee Inlet


Day 68, August 8--Tenakee Inlet (2 miles SE of portage to island west of Long Bay)--12 miles 

Rain much of night.  Slept late—about 9:30AM.  Read chapter of The Blue Bear in continuing light rain.  Tempted to take rest day.  Up about 10:40AM.  Ate breakfast, then decided to pack.  Ready to load boat when up-inlet breeze increased and mist set in, but decided to go anyway.  Wind not bad, but mist on glasses annoying. 

Crossed over to south side and decided to explore an estuary, which we reached at high tide.  Many bald eagles in tall trees at entrance to estuary.  Incredible numbers of salmon as we made our way up estuary.  Many of them working their way upstream as we came to where stream riffled over rock.  Signs that bear have been feeding and many salmon carcasses. 

Continued on for another hour or so through mist and rain in face to small island where we made camp under fairly large trees with unusually clear understory.  Much bear sign.


Salmon in estuary on south side of Tenakee Inlet


Salmon getting ready to spawn and die in Tenakee Inlet estuary


Many dead salmon and lots of bear sign in Tenakee Inlet estuary.


Grizzly scat near camp in Tenakee Inlet


Our next-to-the-last camp, Tenakee Inlet


Day 69, August 9--Tenakee Inlet (from island near Long Bay to Saltery Bay)--20 miles

Up about 8 AM to partly sunny skies.  Left about 10:30AM.  Light following breeze.  Many seals at entrance to Long Bay.  Decided to paddle up Seal Bay.  Headwind blowing down bay increased the further we went.  Finally with half mile to go, we gave it up. 

Sailed out and down Tenakee Inlet, stopping at next small estuary, but no salmon.  In the next one, even smaller, there were many salmon, the surface boiling with them.  Couldn't get far because of fallen trees across stream. 

Sailed on to Saltery Bay and paddled into bay.  Sailboat anchored near head of bay.  No one appears to be aboard.  Camped nearby, less than half mile from estuary.  Had hard time finding decent camp.  David's boot failed with just one day to go and he got a wet foot. 

Very uneven grass-covered forest edge which has been logged and is a mess.  Tent site sloping downhill.  Geese flew over honking as we prepared for bed.  Salmon jumping in bay.  Very picturesque view up bay.


Saltery Bay, Tenakee Inlet


Day 70, August 10--Saltery Bay to Tenakee Hot Springs--9 miles

Awake at 6:30AM and headed up estuary, but didn't get far.  No salmon, several eagles, no bears.  Few bear tracks on shore—salmon run mostly done?  Headed back to camp, got breakfast and packed.  Totally clear and sunny.  Headed out just as sailboat appeared to be weighing anchor. 

Moderate up-bay breeze turned to down-inlet breeze, which we used to sail across inlet.  Just as we approached north shore it switched to up-inlet and increased to make the last mile a real claw as we came into Tenakee Hot Springs.  We landed and David went up to talk to some folks who were picnicking on a deck.  Got oriented—friendly folks about our age.  Invited us to potluck/party in the evening.  Great timing! 

Proceeded on to harbor area, landed, embraced, and found nice camp area in forest behind general storage area littered with odds and ends of building materials, skiffs, derelict  and otherwise.  Schlepped everything back there and put up tent, then walked into town. 

Met Brooke in Snyder Mercantile and Pearl got scoop on life in Tenakee while David used bath house during men's hours.  Brooke mentioned bakery next door as a good breakfast spot.  He mentioned that the owner, Darius had a sailboat David was quite familiar with.  As we walked back to camp, we found Darius with his boat.  Later we walked down to the docks and Darius was there, having just put his boat into the water for the first time.  David helped him raise the mast. 

Then we headed to the party.  About 50 people there, nice string band, then rock band and loads of great food.  A beautiful sunny evening.  Chatted for some time with Karen Wilson of Juneau and her daughter Hannah, who turned out to be a good friend of someone we knew from Tucson.  

Left party about 9:15AM.  Karen had mentioned that Lynn Schooler, author of two books we'd read on the trip, was staying at Tenakee Hot Springs Lodge.  Saw a couple guys on deck of lodge as we walked by, so went up to check.  It was indeed Lynn and he made us welcome to sit down and chat.  Nice opportunity to compliment him on the books. 

Then finally to bed, amazed that our last day of paddling is done.

Approaching Tenakee Hot Springs


We end a wonderful summer of paddling at Tenakee Hot Springs


And celebrate at a party in Tenakee Hot Springs


It's been a great adventure together.