With Ladonia shrouded in clouds we hiked up the adjacent peak and I grabbed a panorama of Adam and Tom taking a break next to a snow field. I think this captures the scene of the alpine (from ocean on the left to peaks and lakes). Enjoy!
We waved farewell to our expert Caver Kevin the week and started our the last week of the trip with a hike up Mt. Ladonia. It was a relatively short journey but the scenery was spectacular. As we hiked above tree line I found myself surrounded by a field of wildflowers and began shooting.
The alpine was truly spectacular but the weather began to turn and we found ourselves once again whited out and faced with high winds.
As the weather progressed we realized the Ladonia was not a safe option but decided to summit the adjacent peak. As we ascended a snow field above a pristine alpine lake, we found ourselves completely surrounded by mist and clouds!
Team photo from the summit!
All I can say was that as hard as it was hiking up, it was a blast coming down!
Since our first day in Black Bay the same bear has been munching on grass in the nearby estuary. Unfortunately our guard dog Baranof and our general smell has kept him on the run when I attempt to get photos. Surprisingly the bears are far more scared of humans than one might think, and their noses are amazingly sensitive. Today Tom and I were able to paddle up downwind and catch some great up close photos but once he caught our scent it literally scared the living s*** out of him…
The Whole boat got a huge laugh out of this photo so I thought I should post it. Enjoy
Heading back to the boat was one of the more satisfying feelings I have had in a while. The thought of unlimited food and warmth (dryness really) fueled me to hike quickly. After wading through 4 miles of frigid river water to avoid the bushwhacking we experienced on the way up to our camp we reached Black Bay. It was a beautiful day and I was happy to see the sun again. I spent the rest of the day taking photos and catching up on blog posts. I was able to get some great bear shots which but the cherry on the cake for me! It was a great way to end the SUMMER SOLSTICE – Great to be back onboard.
Today we headed out for the most feared and anticipate hike of the trip. Our goal was to summit White Stripe Mountain!
The mountain looked challenging from camp but the giant marble stripe which gave the mountain its name offered hope for more Karst and possible caves. The day began great as we flew up the face of the mountain but weather wore us as we reached our first ridge.
Clouds poured in from the Southwest and the sub-alpine was blanketed by a thick haze. As we proceeded forward our team became weary of our chances of summiting. Kevin pushed ahead but ultimately we called of the climb as rain poured down over the rock faces.
We were able to do a botany survey on the sub-alpine ridge. Soon after we headed down and retired to camp soggy and disappointed. The mountain won today but hopefully not again!
Day 2 of backpacking trip marked the start of our journey to find Karst. Kevin, Tom, Adam and I journey from camp to a nearby muskeg where possible caves could be found.
Amazingly, by following a stream from the acidic muskeg, we found our first cave of the trip. Roughly 50” in length the cave showed positive signs of what was to come and as is with any discovery, we had the opportunity to name the cave! Adam stepped up and named the cave Calvin Cave after Jack Calvin who fought to preserve the wilderness and founded the Sitka Conservation Society in the 60s.
Kevin and Tom spent an hour or two mapping and surveying Cavlin Cave. Above ground Adam was searching for more Karst topography and stumbled on a large sinkhole which he decided to repel into!
After a thorough search of the area we moved onward but found little the rest of the day.
After a day of rest we set out on a 4 day expedition up the Black River in search of more Karst. The area we are in has an interesting marble strip that runs for miles and creates some extremely interesting formations. Tom began the day like most days with a set of Yoga but by 9 we were on our way.
The hike through the forest was extremely slow and often brutal. Our campsite was only 4 miles away and we were only gaining 100 ft in elevation but out here there are only bear and deer trails and they can be exhausting. As we were pushing through devils club and alder limbs Kevin noticed an amazing nursery log. We stopped to enjoy its beauty. The soil here is often only a few inches thick so when giant tree falls, it creates the support structure and nutrients for other trees in the forest.
The day was long and at our less than mile per hour pace we struggled to reach our campsite. The last two obstacles in our way were 1000000000ssss of misquotes and the frigid river crossings!
I make it sound bad but it was a good day. Can be exhausting battling the Alaskan wild though!