Tuesday, June 3rd, dawned clear and bright. We had a quick breakfast at the McDonald's in Soldotna (the restaurant by the hotel didn't open on time) then struck out on the Sterling Highway towards Homer. We were to take a trip aboard Captain Karl's Bay Excursions into Kachemak Bay, with our ultimate goal to see Gull Island. We would spend a couple of hours on the boat, just our group, and expected to see lots of birds in the Alcid family--puffins, guillemots, murres, murrelets--as well as kittiwakes, cormorants and terns.
The trip from Soldotna to Homer is about 1 1/2 hours, and the highway runs along Cook Inlet. On the western shore of the inlet is the Clark Lake National Park and Preserve. Within the park lie parts of two mountain ranges--the Aluetian Range to the south and the Alaska Range to the north. Along this line of peaks are five volcanoes, including the often active Mt. Redoubt. We made a brief stop at Anchor Bay where we looked for Bald Eagles on the beach. We only saw one, but we were treated to great views of the peaks of Clark Lake N.P.
|Mt. Redoubt, (10,197 feet), across Cook Inlet from Anchor Bay.|
We continued on to Homer, and while we didn't stop in the town proper, there was a quaint little community out on Homer Spit Road, where the marina is located. We sooooo wanted to take some time and shop, but there were birds to see, by golly, so all I managed was to snap a few photos of the place. Maybe next time!
|Some of the businesses along Homer Spit Road. There was also a campground and RV park.|
|Flying the rainbow flag in Homer!|
This is part of the trip I was the most excited about. I love the water, and knew that this would be an opportunity to not only see some birds I could not see elsewhere, but it also meant not being in the van. While it wasn't a big boat there was room to move around, and we had a beautiful day for a boat ride--clear blue skies and very little wind.
|Marina at the City of Homer Port and Harbor.|
The map below shows the relation of Gull Island to the spit. We departed and headed northeast for bit, up into Kachemak Bay, before heading down to Gull Island.
|Map of Kachemak Bay. Homer is in the top left, across the bay from Kachemak State Park and Wilderness, which borders Kenai National Park.|
|Heading out into Kachemak Bay.|
We were afforded great views of the glaciers in the Kenai Mountains. This is Grewingk glacier, the only one visible from the bay.
|Grewingk glacier, Kenai Mountains, Kachemak Bay State Park.|
The mountains were just breathtaking.
|Kenai Mountains, Kachemak Bay State Park|
Much of the water in the bay east of the spit is milky with glacial silt. Basically tiny bits of ground up bedrock, this runoff from melting glaciers is deposited into lakes and bays. In quiet waters it will stay suspended, and helps account for the turquoise color of some alpine lakes.
|Glacial silt in Kachemak Bay.|
With all the amazing scenery it was easy to forget that we'd come to see birds.
And oh my goodness, where there birds!
Thousands and thousands of birds!
Next: the birds of Kachemak Bay.