A full day off and fine weather to boot is a rare day indeed in these times of deep employment and mortgage. The venerable Surly Ogre and I decide, after a brief discussion, that a trip down peninsula to the enchanting Paradise Cove will do just fine. It is a road ride all the way, but the Ogre does not mind and says nothing about it. So off we go, down the hill to the Chilkat Estuary and a smooth, flat spin along the coastline; Eagles overhead screaming their mating call and sea Gulls drifting silently in search of a meal. We are a happy pair, the Ogre and I; We pedal along the rocky shores of Letnikof Bay and past the old cannery to the brief hill that rounds the bend to the ultra hip “community” of Mud Bay. Weeks past, I had the pleasure of working out here on a set of “backcountry” stairs for my friend Jake. The location, an entirely awesome cabin parked atop the beach rocks directly across the inlet from the Rainbow Glacier, Chilkat Mountains, and Kochu Island. This area is true deep salt water and sports untold numbers of rich and broad marine life and mammals.
Today, I have brought the camera and mini tripod to shoot a time lapse of the unnamed peak I have a desire to climb someday. It is a majestic mountain above the Rainbow Glacier and offers a nice, moderate looking multi pitch alpine ice route up it’s north eastern face. The only trouble, is how to access it? The area below the Rainbow is definitely out: cliffs, several hundred feet tall and consisting of a chossy looking substance sitting quietly below a barrier above of gently perched seracs, waiting to fall and clobber the unaware.
Today, I was hoping for a few clouds to make the time lapse more interesting, but alas, it is a crystal clear day. The sun playing it’s rotation game of light will have to provide interest enough as it moves slowly across the sky and illuminating the upper icefalls of the Rainbow Glacier.
As the camera clickity clicks away, I have an hour to kill, so I set myself down, and with the always necessary binoculars in hand, begin to scope the water and shorelines for animals. I scan the far shore of the inlet for Bears and the eastern shore of Kochu Island for Sea Lions and such. At the northern tip of the island, a lone Bald Eagle is perched atop the furthest tree out, scanning the water and shoreline for tasty snacks. I return to scanning the water. Soon I spot several Harbor Seals frolicking together in a group. They disappear and then again return. Then a lone Seal pops it’s head just feet away from my perch to say hello. We stare and I talk, and then it is gone. Looking out across the sun glistened water, I spot dorsal fins. It is a school of porpoises moving past. Then far beyond, a larger fin appears, then dives. It resurfaces and then blows. I can see it is a large Orca and soon it too disappears into the deep. More Eagles cry overhead and I realize once again just how much magic this place conjures. It is true paradise on earth.
On the ride home, I spot a roadie on his ultra light, ultra thin specimen of speed and agility, and with stylee super shades adorning his skull, he turns onto Mud Bay Road and I wave; he looks at me squarely and does not wave, but instead hits the pedals harder. Does he imagine that the dude on the heavy and slow Ogre with the loaded down panniers full of camera gear is not really a fellow cyclist? Perhaps his lycra is too tight and restricting blood flow to critical areas of the body. Or perhaps the high dollar Italian gadgetry bolted to his bicycle is too shiny and was perhaps blinded by their light and there for could not see me. Perhaps, he is simply an elitist bugger. The Ogre snickers, and Eagle screams, and my legs pedal on home.