Baranof Warm Springs to Tebenkof Wilderness, Kuiu Island. July 12-16, 2013.
24 July 2013 | posted at Craig
Photo: Islands in Tebenkof Bay with mountains on Baranof Island in the background.
We had heard so many Alaskans sing praises of Tebenkof Bay in Chatham Strait that Steve and I were determined to see it this year. In fact, we’d skipped our usual trip to Glacier Bay and Icy Strait just to make sure we had enough time to get to both Tebenkof Bay and Coronation Island farther south. It would take several days to get there from Baranof Warm Springs and several more days to get to Coronation Island.
From Warm Springs we headed south down the east coast of Baranof Island, stopping for the first night in Red Bluff Bay and the second in Mist Cove. There was a nip in the air, rain falling off and on and seas that seemed to come every which way. But the scenery made up for it: waterfalls every few miles, mountains that rose right out of the water and even the occasional glacier towering above us.
The next morning when we left Mist Cove to cross Chatham Strait to Tebenkof Bay, the fog was thick outside the cove and not a breath of wind stirred the water. We motored in a world of blankness: white fog around us and radar and AIS showing no traffic. As we entered the bay, the fog lifted and low, tree-studded islands emerged from the fog. Sea otters frolicked in shallows and seals sunned themselves on rocks.
We anchored in a group of islands in the center of the bay. The sun was warm, the wind light and there were no flies. We stayed there two nights.
As I paddled my kayak among the islands and enjoyed the sun, I found myself thinking that the bay was beautiful but it didn’t feel like Alaska. The islands were too low, the air too warm. This wasn’t Alaska; it was Barkley Sound without sports fishermen and kayakers, the Broughton Islands without megayachts and marinas. Whenever I caught glimpses of the mountains on Baranof Island across Chatham Strait, I thought, “there is the real Alaska -- back on the other side of the Strait.”