Day 9:
Fourmile Creek to Grand Plateau Outflow

Showers periodically pepper the tarp during the night.  In the morning I wake to the sound of Stellers jays incessantly scolding me, probably because they're nesting nearby. 

I'm off by 9:30 AM.  The surf is up even higher this morning.  By 1:00 PM I cross the unnamed river I camped beside 3 days ago.  Like all the glacier-fed flows, it's up.  A gravel island that was well above water 3 days ago is barely showing now.  It's nothing like the Fairweather outflow though and the crossing is easy.  During the afternoon I wade another stream, rain-fed and also easy.  At one point I see whale spouts and stop to watch as 2 humpback whales spy hop belly to belly, something I've never seen before. 

Walking north along the beach, Louis Armstrong's rendition of "What a Wonderful World" plays in my head again and again, as it has since the first day of the trip.  Why that song, I don't know, but perhaps it's fitting given the setting.   

About 4:30 PM I wade another rain-fed stream, walk more sand beach and reach the rocks marking Grand Plateau about 6:30 PM.  Heading up into the forest I soon find a bear trail.  Except for occasional forays into thick devil's club and under blow downs, it mostly goes well until my foot catches on a branch and suddenly I'm getting a 360 degree view of the world as I somersault down a steep slope.  Taking stock when the action stops, I'm relieved to see that all is OK, except for a missing water bottle which I soon find. 

The roar of the outflow grows as I continue north and an hour later I'm almost to it.  Taking a bear trail that appears to head up toward the lake, it soon leads me into a boggy thicket of devil's club and blow downs.  Picking my way through the mess I come to a small pond that's part of the outflow on its south side.  Working around it I pick up a sketchy bear trail that finally leads up to the lake which I reach in about 40 minutes.  It's about 8:00 PM and I'm roughly 150 feet south of the roaring outflow. 

The air has become much cooler now and a light rain begins to fall as I launch and paddle out onto the lake.  5 minutes later I land north of the outflow where I'd launched from on the way south.  I re-dress, pack the raft and head down the bear trail on the north side of the outflow.  15 minutes later I'm just above the rocky beach.  I set up camp in the forest about 100 yards north of the outflow.  Thick stands of small-diameter conifer trees prevent a good tarp setup but I do what I can, then hang the food and call it a day.

Lying under the quilt listening to the light rain patter against the tarp, I find myself pondering once again the decision to head back north, still confident I made the smart choice, but knowing it will be turning over in my mind for some time to come.

Clouds move in north of Cape Fairweather.

Ready to head back across unnamed river.  Note turbid glacier water in bottles. 

Surf is getting higher as weather moves in.

Bushwhack through devil's club up to Grand Plateau Lake. 

Grand Plateau Lake as rain begins to fall.

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