Alaska Inside Passage

Thomas Bay and Baird Glacier

Wednesday, August 05, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

We said good-bye to Petersburg and slowly made our way up Frederick Sound Wednesday morning to our next destination – Baird Glacier in Thomas Bay. It was a short run, only 20 miles, and our early departure had more to do with the currents than anything else. The mouth of Thomas Bay is two miles wide, but the actual entrance has been narrowed down by reefs and shoals that extend into the channel and the current can be strong with turbulent water.

The minute we crossed the bar, the water turned milky green from the glacial runoff . . .  we were close. But it was an overcast day and starting to rain, so rather than make the trip up-inlet, we settled for anchoring in Ruth Cove where we tucked up inside with the heater running and waited patiently to view the glacier – an opportunity that wouldn’t come for another 40 hours.

Friday morning, we woke up to clearing skies so we upped-anchor and made our way to the head of Thomas Bay. As we slowly moved up the inlet, the sea temperature dropped to 45°F and the breeze off the ice seemed just as cold. The clouds clung to the steep mountains, hiding the snow-capped peaks from view, but the sun broke through just enough to shed a little light on the glacier as it wound its way down the mountain.

It wasn’t the glacier itself that was impressive; it can’t have been more than 30-feet tall at its snout, if that. It was the evidence of past glacial action on the surrounding cliffs: deep gouges, called striations, carved by rocks that the glacier had dragged against the surface as it advanced and retreated. It truly was an amazing sight; but the head of Thomas Bay is cold and uninviting, so we didn’t linger. We still had 50 miles ahead of us and needed to get moving . . . Cannery Cove on Admiralty Island was waiting.

Note: This blog was written on Friday, 12 June 2015.

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