Alaska Misty Fiords National Monument

Walker Cove (Misty Fiords National Monument)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

Every now and then I wonder if we approached cruising the Pacific Northwest the right way – choosing to spend our time in British Columbia and ignoring Alaska for so many years.  And now it’s beginning to look like we have our answer: Misty Fiords National Monument alone would have ruined us, Walker Cove in particular. 

It’s one of those places that doesn’t translate well into words or pictures.  Neither one can capture the stillness of this special anchorage or the overwhelming emotion it evokes.  I can try.  And I will.  But these things are usually beyond reach. 

Walker Cove is a story 250 million years in the making and David commented that he’d love to see a time-lapse video of its creation – the folding, uplifting and volcanic activity that formed the coastal mountains, the ice age that followed, and the retreat of the glaciers 10,000 to 12,000 years ago that left behind the massive fiords lined with u-shaped valleys, high glacial cirques and 3,000-foot sheer cliffs.  It would’ve been something to see, that’s for sure, and further evidence of man’s brief time on this earth . . . it’s difficult not to feel insignificant when you’re in the midst of it all.

We couldn’t have come at a better time.  The weather was brilliant and there were no signs of the rain or mist that named this remarkable place, giving us the chance to take it all in as we slowly motored our way up-inlet and into Walker Cove itself.  The anchorage was empty when we arrived, so we picked up the park mooring while a mother grizzly and her three cubs grazed on sedge grass no more than 150 metres away.  She sat down and stared at us and only went back to eating when she was convinced we weren’t a threat to her cubs.  It was an amazing welcome and something I’ve been looking forward to for more than five years – our very first look at brown bears.

We sat on deck and watched them for hours, mesmerized by their sheer size and large shoulder humps.  It wasn’t long before we got a feel for the personalities of the cubs and gave them nick-names:  The most obvious was “Straggler”.  An independent cub, likely a male, who needed space from his siblings and mother but was always quick to fall back in line when the time came.  Then there was “Klinger”, a Mamma’s Boy (or girl) who refused to stray too far from his mother’s side, whether she liked it or not.  And finally, “Inciter”, the one cub who couldn’t seem to keep its paws to itself and was more interested in playing with its siblings than anything else.  For us, it doesn’t get much better than that.

We lingered in Walker Cove for three days, torn between wanting to stay forever and the desire to see what’s next.  We weren’t always alone.  A few other boats came into the anchorage, but none of them stayed long.  And floatplanes from nearby Ketchikan would land two or three times a day so its passengers could catch a glimpse of the bears.  I couldn’t help but wonder what they thought when they saw us sitting there . . . living in a glacial river valley with grizzly bears for neighbours.  I honestly don’t know what to think about it myself.

Note: This blog was written on Thursday, 28 May 2015.

You Might Also Like