"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Yakutat Journals, Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine: In which we hear ominous noises

Ah, morning on the beach. The sun was shining. Another perfect day in an area that has few perfect days in a year.

How did we get so lucky?

Today we actually had an agenda. We were going to Harlequin Lake, a drive that would take us down a gravel road about thirty miles. JJ, as I mentioned previously had researched and studied this area and had an idea of what to expect and what she wanted to explore.

I, on the other hand, had just enough notice to drop everything I was doing, grab my gear, and go. I was clueless as to what the area had to offer.

So, after breakfast, we struck and packed out tents in case we decided to camp at the lake or somewhere else. We headed into town to do a couple errands, like check on more lodging possibilities, and gas up the truck.

We also dropped by the Forest Service office and chatted a while, and then—oh, my gosh, look at that. It’s lunch time. So, gosh, the grocery store was right next door and it had hot pizza.

After that, it was time to batten the hatches and head out the dusty road.

Along the way, JJ spotted a sandhill crane in a meadow, so we stopped to watch. Enlarge the photo and you’ll see its red head.

Eventually we reached the Dangerous River bridge and again stopped.

I spotted some more unusual Indian paintbrush colors, and took pictures. I also picked up some Styrofoam and a cardboard box that one contained a Winchester rifle, and put it in a yellow bag. It’s a habit of mine.

Okay, so it’s an obsession of mine.

As I said, I didn’t know what to expect. So…..as we drove across the bridge, I was surprised to see this:

Right across the bridge was the end of the road.

We got out of the truck and were getting our daypacks together, when I heard something that sounded like, “whoooph!”

“What was that noise?”

JJ’s eyes got big. “What did it sound like?” she asked. Both of us were very aware that bears sometimes make a woofing noise before charging.

“Whoooph!” We immediately made sure our bear spray was handy and starting telling any bears that we were here.

Then we started down the three-quarter mile trail towards the lake.

No bears interrupted our hike and we reached the lake.

Soon after we reached the lake, however, I again heard “Whooph!” I turned towards the direction of the sound and knew immediately what it was. The sound was caused by huge chunks calving from the face of the glacier and falling into the lake. We were too far away to hear a splash, only the sound of a massive piece of ancient ice belly-flopping onto the water.

We spent some time at the lake taking pictures and just looking at the scenery, then headed back towards town. We had yet another destination in mind, and turned off the main road to another trailhead.

Another three-quarters of a mile through the woods and we reached Russell Fjord. Remember the cruise ship we watched heading towards Hubbard Glacier when we were at the Esker Stream cabin?

It went close to the glacier, then turned right around the point and sailed into Russell Fjord. The same fjord we were now looking at, just a lot farther from its mouth.

We watched a pair of common loons that weren’t the least bit concerned about our presence.

And the obligatory measuring of a bear track before we headed back to the truck.

As to what happened then, I will have a separate post on that next. After that particular event, we drove back into town, looking for a bar that had a view of the bay. Seems there were none, so we wound up at the Glass Door Bar, where cold ones were placed in front of us.

And, wouldn’t you know? Ten minutes in the toaster over and JJ and I had a pizza in front of us for dinner.

And, JJ got to talking with the woman next to her, who told us the best place to stay is at Chris’s place—Chris being the bartender. We made reservations for the next night. How convenient.

Then we went looking for a place to camp for the night. We head back towards Cannon Beach, passing the stream and the lily pad pond.

We were determined to find those Forest Service camping spots, so we turned the opposite direction this time...

….and things started getting spooky.

(to be continued)


  1. In the lake pictures, my imagination creates a half bird half serpent creature about to slide into the water. Do you know what I'm talking about?

    All I can say is what an adventure!

    Your photos are amazing. You're a great documentor.

  2. I love your posts and pictures. Makes me feel like I am right there with you. Couldn't believe the price of a gallon of gas. Our $2.85 is high in Florida. You are an awesome writer.

  3. Thank you for sharing your adventure. The scenery looks absolutely breathtaking, and I am enjoying the narrative - can't wait for the next installment!