After our long, wet paddle from Meares glacier out of Unakwik inlet it was great to wake up to a nice dry morning. By now the decamp operation had become pretty slick and in no time at all breakfast had been consumed, our first bear of the day had made an appearance, kayaks were packed, and we were on the water before 9am.
Chris took the first leg out of Olsen bay and as we exited the cove a golden eagle flew overhead toward Olsen island. We passed a fishing vessel transferring their catch as we headed towards the headland on a southerly course. Nicky took the lead as we turned south east towards Kiniklik accompanied (or I should say chased) by a number of sea lions.
We had a brief stop at the small Kiniklik inlet marked with a church symbol on the map as Keith thought there might be some historic ruins on the site. A little investigation at home revealed that there was indeed a native Alaskan settlement there some time ago. Kiniklik is an Eskimo name and was one of the 2 oldest native villages in Prince William Sound. The native Alaskans (Chenega) were particularly hard hit by influenza and tuberculosis brought by white settlers and the villages were all but abandoned by 1925, most relocating to Cordova, although a small family fish plant was operated for several years afterward by the Chief and his family. Unfortunately, we found no sign of the village, only a small US geological survey marker and an old bivouac, probably used by hunters. We only searched for a short while, but it appears the forest had reclaimed the land and we could have been only meters away from it and not known it due to the density of the foliage.
We continued our paddle towards Point Pellow, with our sealion escort and Andy safely surrounded by fellow paddlers. As we turned the point we also saw Harbour seals and sea otters. We then turned into Eaglek Bay on our way to Cascade Bay. We took a fairly direct line towards the northern headland of Schoppe Bay where we stopped for elevenses. After a brew and a peanut butter wrap (there, I said it, but don’t ask me to talk about these again!) we headed directly toward Cascade Bay.
We had the bay to ourselves as we had at most of the locations on our trip. As we got closer we could hear the roar of the waterfall and as we turned the final corner we were not disappointed. Cascade falls is truly spectacular and is the largest waterfall in Prince William Sound. It drops 171 feet and descends from a series of lakes that are fed by the Eaglek glacier. Keith, Ian, Ruth, Mike and Nicky were positively salivating at the white water and all of them were keen to get closer while the rest of the crew stayed clear in one of the eddies either side, not wishing to invite a capsize. Ian Bell got the prize for the closest approach from what I could see in the left-hand eddy and got a thorough soaking.
As we existed Cascade Bay in drizzle we stopped for lunch on the right-hand headland where we saw a Belted kingfisher patrolling the coastal forest. After lunch we headed for our final destination across Eaglek Bay to very secluded cove close to the Oyster mariculture area on the peninsula marked by Ragged Point. It was in this sheltered cove that our second black bear of the day made a brief appearance before disappearing into the forest. Our camp area was just above the beach but probably vulnerable on the highest of tides. Keith assured everyone that we should be ok and then added that the others in the group might want to put a watch on throughout the night; but as we were pitched on the highest point we’d get plenty of warming. The sun set on a lovely evening as we gathered round our pathetic attempt at a fire using the wood that was soaked from the previous day’s rain. After a great day on the water, with the food safely stashed in triple wrapped bags, dry bags and under a tarp maybe 20m away we turned in for the night safe from the bears and rising tide-we hoped!! Total Distance covered 30.37km