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Archive for July, 2015

Conifer © DY of jtdytravels; P1100423

Tree hosting lichen and moss © DY of jtdytravels; P1100423

Up until this point on our walk with David in the forest at Ideal Cove, we’ve been looking down at small plants, mosses and fungi under the trees; but if we look up, we’ll see that many lichens and mosses have taken up residence on the branches.

Beware of prickles! © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100392

Beware of prickles! © DY of jtdytravels; P1100392

And while we’re looking up and out instead of down, it’s worth being very aware of the prickly plants in this forest. They don’t know not to grow over board walks!

Streptopus amplexifolius ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100429

Streptopus amplexifolius © DY of jtdytravels; P1100429

Back down in the understory of the forest, David found this Streptopus amplexifolius, an unusual plant, commonly called Clasping Twisted Stalk. The base of each leaf surrounds or clasps the stem which kinks and twists after each leaf. The buds and bell shaped flowers hang down below the leaves at each leaf axil. They can only be seen by lifting the large leaves.

Another common name for this plant is Watermelon Berry, which refers to the water-melon coloured berries. Although the berries are very juicy, they are not very flavourful.

Coptis asplenifolia ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100431

Coptis asplenifolia © DY of jtdytravels; P1100431

Another interesting plant which grows on the forest floor is Coptis asplenifolia, commonly known as Fern-leaved Goldthread. Its a delicate, evergreen herb, with fern like leaves.  It grows from gold coloured roots; hence the common name. The photo shows the unusual seed head; a ring of up to twelve seed filled capsules on an upright stalk. Each time a capsule is hit by  a raindrop, a seed is ejected. Because these plants are slow colonizers, when found in a place like this, they signify that this is an old growth forest.

Aster sp. ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100432

Aster sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1100432

This delicate pink aster was a surprise find in the depths of this forest.

It’s not a garden escapee! There’s not a garden for many miles. It belongs here.

Fauria crista-galli © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100434

Fauria crista-galli © DY of jtdytravels; P1100434

Fauria crista-galli is commonly called Deer Cabbage. The flowers certainly look attractive but they have a very bad aroma; a pretty sure sign that they are pollinated by flies!

Platenthera unalescensis © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100438

Platenthera unalescensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100438

Platanthera unalescensis, is one of the Alaskan Rein Orchids. You need to be fairly observant to find this delicate plant with greenish flowers. It grows in dry to moist coniferous forests, so is happy in the area that we’ve been exploring with David.

Linnaea borealis © Dy  of  jtdytravels; P1100440

Linnaea borealis © Dy of jtdytravels; P1100440

The boardwalk crossed boggy, undrained land, known in Alaska as muskeg. It’s characterised by sphagnum moss vegetation and David found the very small  plant called Linnaea borealis growing in the mosses. Since the plant itself is less than 10cm tall and the drooping flowers are only 2-5 mm long, this was another case of needing to get down to ground level. By doing that, David was able to actually look into the flowers and show us that the bell is darker inside than out. It’s a shame that he couldn’t bring us back the smell of these flowers, too, as they produce a very fragrant perfume. All in all, a truly lovely plant.

Linnaea borealis ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100437

Linnaea borealis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100437

The plant is so lovely that it was said to be the favourite plant of Linnaeas, the Swedish botanist who became famous for introducing to science the system of using binomial Latin names. And so the generic name for the plant is Linnaea, in his honour.  The plant’s specific name is borealis, meaning northern. In Alaska the plant is found only north of Ketchikan.

Linnaea borealis ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100436

Linnaea borealis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100436

Twin Flower is the common name of Linnaea borealis and that’s very apt. Each upright flower stalk divides into a Y; and each branch of the Y bears a single, delicate, bell shaped flower. The stems themselves are rather hairy, slender, semi-woody. The plant is evergreen and spreads across an area from runners. Seed is also dispersed when the fruit, or dry nutlets, which have sticky hairs, catch onto the fur of animals and the feathers of birds.

Lysichiton americanum ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100444

Lysichiton americanum © DY of jtdytravels; P1100444

Another plant very common in the wet, boggy muskeg is Lysichiton americanum. It’s common name of this plant with huge, rubbery leaves is Skunk Cabbage. The tiny flowers of this plant are arranged on a fleshy spike called a spathe. Deer enjoy eating these spathes and brown bears dig up the roots to eat. They don’t seem to be put off by the ‘skunky odour’!

Carex lyngbyei © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100447

Carex lyngbyaei © DY of jtdytravels; P1100447a

Another very common plant is Carex lyngbyaei, Lyngby’s Sedge. They are grass-like but they are not grasses. The leaf base of a sedge forms a triangle in cross section while the the leaf base of a grass is round. The whole of this plant is rich in protein and is a very important source of food for bears, especially in spring before the berries fruit and the salmon run

Still no sighting of a bear today, though.

Moneses uniflora © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100448

Moneses uniflora © DY of jtdytravels; P1100448

Moneses uniflora is a member of the Wintergreen family and is also known by the name of Pyrola uniflora. It’s common name is Shy Maiden, coming from the greek derivation of its name monos, meaning one and hesia, meaning delight. And delightful it is. However, it’s a difficult flower to photograph as it grows low to the ground (only 3 – 17 cm tall) in the shade of the deep forest. This was yet another time that David needed to get down to ground level.

Another common name for this plant is Wax Flower because of the single white, waxy flower that grows from a rosette of roundish leaves. However, the common name that I most like for this demure flower is Shy Maiden, for obvious reasons!

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100441

Menziesia ferruginea © DY of jtdytravels; P1100441

A much larger plant, a scraggy shrub, is Menziesia ferruginea often called Rusty Menziesia, from the species name, ferruginea which refers to the rusty salmon colour of the flowers.  But this common forest shrub is also known as Fool’s Huckleberry or False Azalea. It seems to be masquerading as something other than itself!  The urn shaped flowers are somewhat similar to the huckleberry flower in both colour and form, hanging down. But when this plant is in fruit, the flower stems turn up and the fruits are not delicious berries, but very dry inedible capsules.

Rubus spectabilis ©  Dy  of  jtdytravels; P1100442

Rubus spectabilis © Dy of jtdytravels; P1100442

One plant that certainly did have edible fruit was the Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis. Found close to the edge of the forest, they made a tasty bight for weary walkers on the way back to the shore line. They certainly look inviting and taste something like raspberries.

Fern © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100397

Fern © DY of jtdytravels; P1100397

Some forest plants are easy to overlook simply because they are common… like ferns. These plants form an important part of the understory especially at the edge of the forest. They maybe common… but are really rather lovely.

Fungi ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100451

Fungi © DY of jtdytravels; P1100451

Something else on the forest floor that many people walk past without so much as a glance is fungi. But how stunningly simple and beautiful are these; another down on the ground photo!

Forest walk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100457

End of the forest walk © DY of jtdytravels; P1100457

I’m sure there were more plants to find and photograph, but, as always happen in a group situation, someone calls ‘time’; time to go back to the ship.

Fucus distichus ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100462

Fucus distichus © DY of jtdytravels; P1100462

But even as David left the depths of the forest and stepped back on the rocky shore, he found yet one more plant to share with us all, the Rock Weed, Fucus distichus. This brown alga grows in clumps or tufts from a basal ‘holdfast’ that anchors it to the rock. It lives in intertidal zones. When covered with water, this plant is erect, very stiff and cartilaginous. However, as shown here, when out of the water the fronds don’t stay erect but fall against the rocks.

Ross Weinberg, Vidiographer © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100466

Ross Weinberg, Vidiographer © DY of jtdytravels; P1100466

Sitting amongst the Rock Weed, and also waiting to go back to the ship, and lunch, was our expedition’s professional videographer, Ross Weinberg. His task wast to prepare a video diary of the trip for everyone…. and he did an excellent job including places, people and some of the fun that we shared.  David often uses video but, on this trip, he chose photography to enable us all to share his plant hunting expeditions by means of this diary.

'Sea Lion' awaits in the bay ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100458

‘Sea Lion’ awaits in the bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1100458

And so, the first walk of the expedition came to an end. It was time for lunch!

More anon

Jennie and David

All Photographs ©  David Young and Jennie Thomas of jtdytravels

More of our travel diaries can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More travel photos on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

Read Full Post »

Twilight Cruise ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100362

Twilight Cruise © DY of jtdytravels; P1100362

After a memorable day shared with whales and icebergs, Captain Shawn Nettles took the “Sea Lion” for a quiet after dinner twilight cruise into a narrow fiord. This was a wonderful way to unwind in the peace of the wilderness, shared only by a small fishing boat.

Twilight ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100365

Twilight © DY of jtdytravels; P1100365

The time; 9.15 pm. Summer twilight.

The ship’s lights came on and it was time to think about bed.

What adventures would the morrow bring?

Frederick Sound © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130763

Frederick Sound © JT of jtdytravels; P1130763

We anchored overnight in a quiet cove and everyone, including all of the crew, had a really good night’s sleep.  So, we were all up bright and early, ready for whatever the day held. While we enjoyed our breakfast and a chat with new friends, “Sea Lion” cruised back up Frederick Sound, to a very special place named Ideal Cove for the first activity of the day, a walk in the forest.

Unloading the DIBs ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130631

Unloading the DIBs © JT of jtdytravels; P1130631

There was only one way to get to the shore, and the forest, and that was by DIB. These inflatables were stored on the ship’s roof, right above our room. They had to be winched down each time we had a shore excursion. Our lady bosun, Nicky, was in charge of these boats and of the kayaks which would be used later in the expedition.

Lee in DIB ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130757

Lee in DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130757

Lee Moll, was the first leader ready in a DIB to take walkers over to the shore.  Lee, was our expedition plant specialist and has been leading walks here for many years. She was especially helpful with her extensive knowledge of the area.

Loading a DIB  © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130766

Loading a DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130766

Loading a DIB was quite simple really, especially in these calm waters. The DIB was nosed into a loading ramp at the back of the ship, and one of the crew handed each passenger down into the craft. Before leaving the ship, we each had to ‘log off’ our name on a board (and, of course, remember to ‘log on’ when we came back to the ship!) David is already on board this DIB, in the shadow on the left. Jason, one of the expedition leaders, is his driver.

Off to the forest! © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130758

Off to the forest of Ideal Cove! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130758

Ideal Cove it was named and ideal it was…

a blue sky, a warm day and a new activity; a forest to explore

and, for David, plants to find.

Preparing for the walk ©  DY  of  jtdytraveks; P1100373

Preparing for the walk © DY of jtdytraveks; P1100373

Once on shore, after a wet landing in boots, life jackets were left in a pile, cameras and binoculars were made ready and the walk began into the depths of the conifer forest.  So let’s go with David and experience the forest and its plants through his photos.

(Plants are named and notes added to the best of our knowledge.)

© DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100377

Isothecium myosuroides  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100377

The very first thing you’ll notice as you enter the forest is that a great many of the conifers are festooned in a shaggy, cream coloured moss. Known commonly as Cat-tail Moss, it is indeed common. It’s botanical name is perhaps less well known: Isothecium myosuroides. 

Toadstool  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100381

Toadstool © DY of jtdytravels; P1100381

In the dimness of the forest floor, fungi can often be found…

these elegant fungi are non edible toadstools.

Single file boardwalk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100383

Single file boardwalk © DY of jtdytravels; P1100383

A single file boardwalk protects this fragile environment.

Cornus canadensis © DY  of  jtdytravels; P110039

Cornus canadensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100391

Beside the path are low growing plants like this Cornus canadensis, known as Dwarf Dogwood or Bunchberry. The short stalked leaves are particularly lovely; 4 to 7 of them in a whorl.

Four petal-like white bracts protect the central umbel of flowers. Each flower has an explosive pollination mechanism. When the petals of mature but still unopened flowers suddenly reflex, they ‘catapult’ their pollen loads into the air.

The fruit of the Bunchberry are bright red berries, fleshy and quite sweet. Bears love them! And this was bear territory so the group needed to keep a good look out for bears on this walk.

Toadstool cap © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100412

Toadstool cap © DY of jtdytravels; P1100412

Another delicate toadstool cap. You have to get down low to really see these…

and taking photos down to low is something that David does really well.

We can enjoy the results.

Shelf Fungus ©  DY  of  jtdytravels;  P1100398

Shelf Fungus © DY of jtdytravels; P1100398

This ‘shelf’ fungi, attached to a tree, was much more at eye level height.

Shelf or bracket fungi are resilient and may live for a very long time. They gain nourishment from the host tree and may in fact contribute to the death of that tree, feeding off the dead wood for years to come.

Sphagnum squarrosum © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100418

Sphagnum squarrosum © DY of jtdytravels; P1100418

Many types of sphagnum moss can be found in these forests; this one, known as Shaggy Sphagnum, is Sphagnum squarrosum. The leaves, which are formed in dense, shaggy, rough rosettes, can absorb a great amount of water. Plants such as these are very common in the forests and were used by native Alaskan peoples as baby diapers (nappies) and bedding, by women for personal hygiene and also for the dressing of wounds.

Vaccinium sp. © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100421

Vaccinium sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1100421

This berry is probably well known to most as a popular fruit for the table. However, the ones we eat are much sweeter and larger than these native blueberries, a Vaccinium sp. In David’s words, “ours have been horticulturally tinkered with to satisfy our sweet tooth palettes”. But the locals enjoy these native blueberries… and so do the bears.

Webbing on board walk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels;  P1100422

P1100422  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The boardwalk is covered with the netting used by purse seine fishermen to catch fish; an ingenious use of a ‘ready to hand’ product in this area. It’s use makes the usually wet boards safer for walkers. And speaking of walkers, where are they?

It looks as though David’s been so busy checking out the plants, that the rest of the group has gone ahead! Time to catch up. And time to finish this post and resume from here next time.

Jennie and David

All photographs ©  Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels

More of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com 

and more travels photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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Ice flows ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100299

Ice flows © DY of jtdytravels; P1100299

After lunch we dropped anchor at the mouth of LeConte Glacier Bay.

We seemed to be surrounded by slow moving chunks of ice.

LeConte Glacier Bay ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels; P1130615

LeConte Glacier Bay © Jt of jtdytravels; P1130615

The fiord leading up to the glacier was hidden from view; just around the corner.

It was a tantalising prospect!

Google Sattelite photo of Glacier Bay Alaska

Google Satellite photo of Glacier Bay Alaska

We, of course, would not see this satellite view but it helps to get an overview of the glacier and part of the Stikine Icefield from which it comes. This glacier is 34 km (21 ml) long and 1.6km (1 ml) wide and it’s the southern most tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. It was named in 1887 in honour of one of John Muir’s friends, California geologist Joseph LeConte.

Our expedition notes tell us that the fiord leading up to the glacier is 19km (12ml) long, “carved out of the coastal mountain range over thousands of years. However, in 1995, this glacier suddenly shrank, retreating .8km (.5ml) in just 5 months. Then in 1988, it retreated nearly another 1.6km (1 ml) more and so became one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world.”

Web photo of LeConte Glacier

Web photo of LeConte Glacier

We wouldn’t go right to the face of the glacier as it’s extremely active and the waters at the face are filled with icebergs, large and small. The water at the face is 250 m (810 ft) deep and this glacier is well known for what are known as “shooters”; icebergs that calve off the glacier under water and shoot up and through the surface since the ice is lighter than the water.

Harbour seals migrate to this ice filled end of LeConte Bay for the birthing and rearing of their pups. The ice makes a perfect place to haul out and sometimes many animals can be seen on one iceberg. Here they are safe from predators such as Orca Whales which don’t attempt to navigate this end of the ice filled bay.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100302

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100302

And we wouldn’t attempt that end of the bay either! But we did leave ‘Sea Lion” in more open waters and used the inflatable DIBs to travel a few kilometres into the fiord for an afternoon of exploration.

Ready to go on DIB Pisces ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130636

Ready to go on DIB Pisces © JT of jtdytravels; P1130636

These very sturdy inflatable DIBs would allow us to go much further into the bay than we could explore by ship… and we would see some of the largest icebergs in South East Alaska. They’re certainly not as big as those David and I had seen in Antarctica some years ago but there were many and varied icebergs to be seen and enjoyed, both in size and shape with colours from pure white to ice blue.

© DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100308

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100308

So let’s head into the fiord and make the most of a sun filled afternoon to get up really close and experience the stunning beauty of some of nature’s amazing ‘ice sculptures’. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100317

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100317

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130659

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1100311

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1100322

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130654

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©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100329

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100329

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130647

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130664

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130662

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130665

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130667

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130679

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130681

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130687

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130684

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©  DY of jtdytravels; P1100328

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100328

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130712

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1100332

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130724

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130733

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©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130742

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130742

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130745

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©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100348

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100348

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© DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100342

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100342

Time’s up! We’re called back to the ship. However, we were in no hurry to leave the magic of floating amongst these strange, fantastic chunks of ice. Our DIB driver, the ship’s bosun, Nicky, and our naturalist guide, Caroline, were enjoying the experience as much as we were. It’s often very wet and quite cold in this fiord, so they, too, were able to enjoy being out amongst the icebergs on a sunny and relatively warm afternoon. Eventually, however, it was indeed time to leave the harbour seals to their solitude and return to “Sea Lion’ with our cameras filled with photos and our minds filled with some truly wonderful memories. And now, we have enjoyed being able to share that memorable experience with you.

More anon

Jennie and David

All photographs © Jennie Thomas & David Young of jtdytravels

Our other travel site is

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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So where were we when we had our wonderful encounter with whales?

Cargo Barge in Stephens Passage ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130525

Cargo Barge in Stephens Passage © JT of jtdytravels; P1130525

I knew we must be in one of the few main waterways that carve their way through the islands of the Inside Passage because, very early in the morning, before we saw the whales, I’d seen this cargo barge being pulled along by a tug boat.  As there are no roads into Juneau, this is the way most goods are moved around in this part of the world. 

Stephens Passage ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130584

Stephens Passage © JT of jtdytravels; P1130584

Overnight, we had sailed 105 km (65 ml) south from Juneau along Stephens Passage, the main shipping ‘highway’. The expedition’s very jovial professional wildlife photographer, Steve Morello, marked up the map with arrows and a ‘whale tail’ to pinpoint our encounter! The map is in greens because we were passing through Tongass National Forest…  more about that forest later.

Five Finger Lighthouse ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130577

Five Finger Lighthouse © JT of jtdytravels; P1130577

On the map, right beside Steve’s whale tail, I noticed a lighthouse called Five Finger Lighthouse. Ah Ha! While watching the whales, I had spied that lighthouse in the distance and had taken a photo to try to pinpoint our position.  It pays to look up from the exhilaration of whale spotting and take a look at your surroundings… occasionally, anyway!

I’ve researched the Five Finger Lighthouse since and now know that:  it’s been an active navigation beacon since 1902. The original timber building was burned down in 1933… (timber and naked flames are a bit hazardous, are they not?) A new concrete building was built during the Depression. It was completed and relit in 1935. The last resident light house keeper left in 1984 when the lighthouse was automated. Now the Coast Guard is in charge of  maintenance. In 2004, Five Finger Lighthouse was put on the National Register of Historic Buildings. A Juneau based group of volunteers has taken on the task of restoring the lighthouse and out buildings. They hope to use the site as a whale research centre and for environmental educational purposes.

That’s the summary.  I’ve given the lighthouse web site at the end of this post. It includes some interesting stories for you to peruse at your leisure.

Map of Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels; P1130581

Map of Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound © Jt of jtdytravels; P1130581

While we enjoyed our breakfast, the Captain turned ‘Sea Lion’ away from the main shipping channel and began to sail through Frederick Sound, an area we were to explore for the next two days. First chartered in 1794 by two of Captain George Vancouver’s men, this sound was named in honour of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany.

During the morning we cruised south towards Le Conte Glacier. Whatever the afternoon brought for us, we were already very happy and well satisfied with our first morning encounter with those whales. Anything else would be a bonus!

Brady on lookout duty! ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130585

Brady on lookout duty! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130585

While many of the adults chose to spend the morning on the aft sun deck, young Brady found his special spot, perched in the bow with binoculars at the ready. He was one of 3 children on board, and by far the most inquisitive of the three. Brady’s dream is to become a naturalist and he certainly shows the right aptitude to reach his goal.

The age range on board was from 80 to 6 years old…. the latter was a bit too young in my opinion. But he came with his family group; grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and sister! There were quite a few smaller family groups, a great way to get together when family is spread across the length and breadth of the country. Most passengers came from the ‘Lower 48’ of the USA with one New Zealander and four of us from Australia.

David watches the world go by! © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130596

David watches the world go by! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130596

The sky was a clear and blue, the waters flat calm, the surrounding mountains were topped with snow. Here, we were a long way from the busy and sometimes worrying and chaotic world we had left behind. Here, there was not a house, not a telegraph pole in sight, not even another boat or ship. David and I chose to watch the stunningly beautiful scenery slip by from the walkway just outside our room.

Our room on 'Sea Lion" ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1140127

Our room on ‘Sea Lion” © JT of jtdytravels; P1140127

And what was our room like, I hear some say. Small, basic but comfortable. Two single beds with firm mattresses. A small shower/toilet room with a curtain to protect the latter from getting wet while we used the former. A basin in the bedroom. Plenty of hot clean water… potable water. A large window so that the scenery was always visible. All we needed.

And, what we really loved was this… there were no locks on any doors! Oh, what a feeling of freedom! It was wonderful to be in an environment of complete trust. It reminded me of my life as a child, living in a tiny country village where no one had a lock; no one owned a key! We lived in trust, without fear of robbery or of ‘strangers’ who might wish us harm. How different the world is today.

Purse Seine Fishing vessel ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130593

Purse Seine Fishing vessel © JT of jtdytravels; P1130593

About halfway down the Sound, we caught site of a purse seining fishing boat. It had already strung its net in a circle, floats on the top side, weights below.  The crew was waiting for the fish to gather within the circle. Then they would pull on the ropes attached to the lower part of the net to make the ‘purse’ that traps the fish. We cruised on, leaving them to their task.

Diagram of Purse Seine Fishing

A description of purse seine fishing with good photos of each of the stages in the catch can be found on the web site given at the end of this post. The diagram above is taken from that site.

© JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130638

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130638

Back to the peace of quiet cruising.

Small ice chunks floated by, some in fantastical shapes.

Ship's wash ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130599

Ship’s wash © JT of jtdytravels; P1130599

I lost my thoughts in the rhythmic movement of water patterns.

Ever changing abstracts.

I realised anew that each of us needs ‘time out’ to withdraw from cares;

especially from those cares that will not withdraw from us.

Water abstract ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100286

Water abstract © DY of jtdytravels; P1100286

David was also looking for water abstracts.

I love this one.

Harbour Seal on ice flow ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130604

Harbour Seal on ice flow © JT of jtdytravels; P1130604

A harbour seal floated by

taking a ride on a small ice flow… what a way to go!

View from the bridge © JT of  jtdytravels; P1130606

View from the bridge © JT of jtdytravels; P1130606

I moved back to my spot in front of the bridge.

This was a much wider view.

How peaceful is that?

Small ice flow © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130607

Small ice flow © JT of jtdytravels; P1130607

Many of the ice flows were now larger.

We were getting ever closer to Le Conte Glacier Bay.

Panorama ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130613

Panorama © JT of jtdytravels; P1130613

The mountains were closing in on us… more ice flows appeared.

And then lunch was served!

More anon

Jennie and David

Photography © JT and DY  of  jtdytravels

Our other travels sites are:

www.jtdytravels.com

and

www.dymusings.com

The Five Finger Lighthouse web site is:

www.5fingerlighthouse.com

The Purse Seining fishing link is:

http://www.thekitchn.com/this-is-one-way-to-catch-salmon-in-alaska-193566

or Google

One Way to Catch Salmon In Alaska:

Onboard the Purse Seine Owyhee

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When I woke early on the morning of 22nd June, 2015 and popped my head out of the door to see where we were, I saw that we were in a very special place.

In the dawn's early light ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130527

In the dawn’s early light © JT of jtdytravels; P1130527

The dawn’s early light was just enough to pick out the snow covered mountains beyond the channel we were passing through. The air was fresh and the peace of the place filled me joy.

As I stood there in my reverie, and I might add, dressed only in my nighty, I was startled to hear a voice beside me. ‘Why don’t you get dressed; whales ahead!’ I turned to see one of the ship’s officers standing beside me. I don’t believe I have ever thrown clothes on as quickly in a long time. Leaving David slumbering, I was soon standing in my special spot, on the walkway just in front of the wheel house looking at some bubbles in the water!

Whale surfacing © JT of jtdytravels; P1130535

Whale surfacing © JT of jtdytravels; P1130535

A spray of water, a grunt and a hump slowly arose from the water right in front of the ship. Then, quietly and gracefully, the whale slipped away again.

Curtain of water drops ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130536

Curtain of water drops © JT of jtdytravels; P1130536

A few seconds later; another whale; very close. A flick of the fluke and a curtain of water droplets, and it too was gone beneath the water. How good was that for early morning of our first day aboard “Sea Lion”. But that was just the start!

Sun rise ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130528

Sun rise © JT of jtdytravels; P1130528

I hurried back to our room to waken David as others appeared on deck, most with a warming cup of coffee in hand, or a very long lens camera. It was now 5.46am. The sun had risen over the mountains and was sending a long golden shaft of light across the water.

I was standing just outside our door at the railing of the deck. The ship had all but stopped. Everything was very quiet. Then something magical happened.

Whale tail in morning sun © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130530

Whale tail in morning sun © JT of jtdytravels; P1130530

A whale appeared right in the midst of the sparkles of sunlight on the water.

Then, silently, it was gone.

Golden shimmer on water ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130533

Golden shimmer on water © JT of jtdytravels; P1130533

But it left behind a golden shimmer on the still waters…

the water seemed to turn to molten gold.

Whale spouting © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100241

Whale spouting © DY of jtdytravels; P1100241

David was quick to catch the next whale spouting in that golden light.

How many people only see whales spouting far out to sea?

Here, they were right beside us.

We could hear them.

Whale tail in sunlight © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100275

Whale tail in sunlight © DY of jtdytravels; P1100275

Very soon we realised that we were surrounded by whales.

Seventeen were counted!

This was a truly remarkable experience.

And the early morning sunlight just added an extra special touch.

Sunlight on tail  ©  JT of jtdytravels; P1100261

Sunlight on predominantly white fluke © DY of jtdytravels; P1100261

Sunlight seemed to make this fluke glow!

It’s a predominantly white fluke with just touches of black.

A white with black fluke; © JT  of  jtdtravels; P1130537

A white with black fluke; © JT of jtdytravels; P1130537

Another white fluke but with more black. This is an important difference.

Scientists recognise individual whales by their under fluke patterns; for these are the whale’s ‘fingerprint’. Each whale is different. These distinctive patterns allow the story of each individual whale to be documented. Young whales, brought all the way from Hawaii to South East Alaska by their mothers, will always make the annual return to South East Alaska. And they, in turn, will bring their calves. So the tale of whales relies heavily on patterns on tails!

Black and white fluke pattern ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130550

Black and white fluke pattern © JT of jtdytravels; P1130550

Other flukes are more black than white in pattern.

Black and white fluke pattern ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100244

Black and white fluke pattern © DY of jtdytravels; P1100244

A very different black and white pattern; it’s quite distinctive.

Sun on black and white fluke ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100254

Sun on black and white fluke © DY of jtdytravels; P1100254

And yet another; we did have seventeen different whales around us.

A black fluke ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130540

A black fluke © JT of jtdytravels; P1130540

This all black fluke is not so easily identified. Researchers have found that almost 50% of flukes recorded are all black. So they have to identify them by the the width of the notch between each fluke.

Whale Fluke Patterns

Whale Fluke Patterns from Humpback Whale Research Program

Whale researchers of the group “Humpback Whales of South East Alaska” are compiling a Fluke ID Catalogue. Since they began the project in 1979, they have compiled a photographic record of 1,900 different whale flukes. That’s pretty impressive. These are just nine of them.   Every fluke sighted is given an identification number. This research group encourages visitors like us to send in our photos of whale flukes with place, date and time of the sighting. Every sighting and photo adds greatly to their research data. Who knows… we may have found a new whale amongst our sightings as there were mothers and babies together in the group.

You can see more flukes and more about the life of humpback whales on the web site for ‘Humpback Whales of South East Alaska”. (Link at the end of this post.)

Top side of whale's tail ©  DY  of  jydytravels; P1130556

Top side of whale’s fluke © DY of jydytravels; P1130556

How amazing to spend a couple of hours with whales so close. The big ships sail through at night and miss out. Even if they see whales, they just keep going to meet their next port deadline. Not us! We had no real deadline. Our Captain could respond to whatever the day brought. He, too, enjoyed the encounter. We had time to quietly observe these wonderful animals; animals so big, they are a third the length of our entire ship! What a priviledge.

Curtain of water droplets ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130544

Curtain of water droplets © JT of jtdytravels; P1130544

Like everyone else on board, we were mesmerised by this display. But eventually, our Captain called “Time!” and turned the ship towards our next destination. Breakfast was ready and it was a very happy group who farewelled the whales and trouped down to the dining room.

What a way to begin an expedition!

Our thought for the day comes from Pierce Brosnan

“We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment.

The alternative? – a world without whales.

It’s too terrible to imagine.

.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright ©  JT and DY  of  jtdytravels

Photographs taken near Five Fingers Lighthouse,

at the confluence of Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound

in the Inside Passage of South East Alaska

More of our travels on:

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos on:

www.flickr.com/photos/jydytravels

.

“Humpback Whales of South East Alaska” Research Project

http://www.alaskahumpbacks.org/humpbacks.html

Photos of flukes with place, date and time of sightings can be sent to:

alaskahumpbacks@gmail.com

.

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Back in Juneau after an absorbing afternoon at Mendenhall Glacier, we waited in keen anticipation for our call to board the small ship “Sea Lion” for our Lindblad / National Geographic expedition.

“Radiance of the Seas” © JT of jtdytravels; P1130425

This was certainly not our ship. It was one of four huge cruisers, monoliths of the sea. that were moored at the docks. Obviously many choose to cruise this way, but it’s not our choice.

However, if we had chosen to do so we would have had the advantage of 10+ dining venues, plus 16 more cafes, bars and lounges; 3 pools and 3 whirlpools; rock climbing; basket ball; mini golf; a jogging track; broadway style theatre; a casino and shopping, to mention a few items to entice one to cruise this way. And I forgot to mention the 220ft outdoor movie screen that shows first run movies night and day. There wouldn’t even be a television on our ship !

“Sea Lion” © JT of jtdytravels; P1130434

Our ship “Sea Lion”, was tucked away in front of “Radiance of the Seas”. It’s gangway went up; ours went down. It had 13 decks; we had three. It carried 3,000 passengers with a crew of 850+; Sea Lion takes just 62 passengers with a crew of 43 on an expedition, a voyage of discovery. On top of our ship were inflatable DIBs (Zodiacs) and kayaks which the nine naturalists in our crew would use to help us to experience the wilderness.

Front view of

Front view of “Sea Lion” © DY of jtdytravels; P1100151

So this was to be our home for a week. Our basic but comfortable room was on the top deck. I planned to spend many a quiet hour, not far from our room, on the walkway just in front of the bridge. It would be a great place to enjoy the beauty of the wilderness as we cruised in tiny bays and by sheltered islands. But for now, having found our ship, we left the crew to clean and prepare for our arrival while we explored the Juneau docks area a little more.

Dock Notice ©  DY  of jtdytravels; P1100233

Dock Notice © DY of jtdytravels; P1100233

Each day, the port authority puts up a list of ships and their arrival and departure times. It seems that we were but two of 10,150 people visiting Juneau by ship that day!  So we decided to shun the busy souveneir street and explore more of the boardwalk.

“David B” © DY of jtdytravels; P1100156

A great little ship (or was it a boat?) was moored close to “Sea Lion”. Both David and I agreed that we could happily explore here aboard this ship /boat /yacht. We did ask later what the difference is and were told that a ship can carry a boat or boats but a boat can’t carry other boats!  A yacht is a yacht! It has sail power. A submarine, in nautical terms, is a boat! Hmm! Having got that sorted, let’s move on, shall we?

Man hole cover! ©  DY of  jtdytravels; P1100214

Man hole cover! © DY of jtdytravels; P1100214

Along the boardwalk, near the fishermen’s cooperative, we found this great manhole cover. It reminded us that cruise ships and tourism are not the only source of income along this dock area of Juneau. Fishing is also important and obviously King Crab is one of the delicacies caught here. I wondered if it would be on the menu on the ship!

Sign on Juneau docks ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100144

Sign on Juneau docks © DY of jtdytravels; P1100144

And a little further along we found this sign!

Patsy ©  JT of jydytravels; P1130420

Patsy Ann © JT of jydytravels; P1130420

There’s a statue of a dog on the boardwalk in Juneau, a dog called Patsy Ann, a dog that lived a life which captured the hearts of the people of the town. During the 1930’s, no ship, or boat, entered this port and tied up at the dock without being welcomed by this white bull terrier. Although loved and kindly treated by her owners, she was not a homebody and became something of an identity around the town. When not visiting shops and offices in the town, and enjoying the inevitable treats that came her way, Patsy Ann chose to live with the men at Longshoremen’s Hall, down close to the docks.

In those days, steam ships did not arrive in port at a due time, like clockwork, as they do today. No one really knew when a ship or boat was approaching the docks. But Patsy Ann knew! Even though she was partially deaf from birth, she would know. And the people of Juneau learned that, when Patsy Ann dropped whatever she was doing and trotted off down to the docks, a ship was coming into port. Patsy Ann would then, unerringly, settled down at the dock where, she knew, the ship would tie up.

Having ‘left home’, Patsy Ann looked to be in a spot of bother when dog licensing laws came into effect in Juneau in 1934. The people of Juneau chipped in and bought her license, her tag and a bright red collar. It wasn’t too long before that collar disappeared and Patsy Ann went on with her life, as before, unencumbered by either home or mandatory collar. The city then donated her annual license fee. And, when Patsy Ann died in 1942, the people came to lower her, in a coffin, into the waters of the Gastineau Channel beside the docks that she loved so much.

Fifty years later, a group of residents raised the money for the statue. A special celebration was given by the Princess Cruise line, a blessing was given by an Alaskan native spiritual leader, and once more, Patsy Ann became the official greeter of ships docking in Juneau.

The Friends of Patsy Ann Fund continues. It now supports the Patsy Ann Education and Scholarship Fund which is dedicated to the achievement of new levels of understanding, respect, kindness and compassion. And don’t we need good doses of that in the world today!

Passersby are asked to greet Patsy Ann and, in leaving her, ‘to carry the blessings of friendship throughout life’s journey’. What a good story!

Old wharf piers ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130426

Old wharf piers © JT of jtdytravels; P1130426

The poles under these shops might well have been here in Patsy Ann’s time!

Coffee at Heritage ©  JT  of jtdytravels; P1130489

Coffee at Heritage © JT of jtdytravels; P1130489

We had one last item on our ‘to do’ list before we embarked on the ‘Sea Lion’; a final visit to the Heritage Coffee Cafe to enjoy what might well be our last good coffee for some time. David looks happy. The coffee was good.

Ship board drill © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100216

Ship board drill © DY of jtdytravels; P1100216

Then it was “all aboard”, and time to meet the crew, stow our luggage, do the drill in our very fetching May Wests (and hope they would never have to be used), enjoy our first dinner with this happy bunch of fellow travellers and then go out on deck and watch the world go by!

“Radiance of the Sea” leaves port © JT of jtdytravels; P1130494

And that’s where we were, on our deck, when “Radiance of the Sea” left port and sailed off to yet another Alaskan town. We waved up at them; they waved down at us and we each decided that we were on the best ship! After all, why would anyone want to go on such a small ship? But we knew we were preparing for a very different experience… and we were content.

Sun across the harbour ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130505

Sun across the harbour © JT of jtdytravels; P1130505

Now, we could actually see the sun sending its golden rays across the water as it sank lower in the sky. The other big ships departed… and all was quiet. We were left to anticipate the adventure ahead. Life was indeed good!

A Bald Eagle farewell © JT  of  jtdytravels;  P1130523

A Bald Eagle farewell © JT of jtdytravels; P1130523

Later, a bald eagle flew down, probably in the hope of picking up the scraps left by visitors, for town dwelling eagles have now become scavengers. We looked forward to seeing many more eagles, fishing for their supper, in the wild.

The sun sets at last ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130518

The sun sets at last © JT of jtdytravels; P1130518

Finally the sun set on what had been a wonderful first day in Alaska.

What would the morrow bring?

You shall have to wait and see… just as we had to wait and see!

Jennie and David

Thought for today (Thanks to Patsy Ann)

Let us know and understand the power of respect, kindness and compassion.’

More of our other travel tales on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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One of our aims on this trip was to find and document as many flowering plants as we could. David is, after all, a horticulturist with “sap in his veins” and I’m enamoured of plants and flowers; what more motivation did we need!

Nugget Falls © JT of jtdytravels; P1130474

Nugget Falls © JT of jtdytravels; P1130474

So, now, let’s go plant hunting with David as he wanders towards Nugget Falls in the stunningly beautiful environment of Mendenhall Glacier. There’s not a lot of time for this exploration… time constraint is always a problem in the life of a plant hunter… but with David’s keen eye to find plants endemic to the area, there’s plenty to see and enjoy.

Plant names and notes are given to the best of our knowledge. Should you think otherwise, please let us know in the comment section below. I’ve also researched each plant that David photographed and have found interesting facts about each one to share with you.  

Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130473

Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130473

One fascinating part of plant hunting is to look out for the “succession factor”; in this case the way different plants take their turn in colonising the moraines left bare by a retreating glacier. We look down at a green swathe now, but that has taken maybe a hundred or more years to become established to this point in its evolution. I’ve added David’s photos in a way that will, hopefully, explain how the plant colonisation has happened here in Mendenhall.

Salix sitchensis Sitka Willow © DY of jtdytravels; P1100188

Salix sitchensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100188

The first pioneer plants here are usually the ones whose seeds arrive on the wind, like the spores of mosses; plants that help to bind the rubble into mats onto which other seeds can find a place to grow. Like moss spores, the fluffy seeds of willows such as Salix sitchensis, or Sitka Willow, are so light, they travel on the breeze for some distance, even many kilometres. However, the tiny Salix seed has to find a suitable place to germinate very quickly because it only retains viability for about 24 hours. Undoubtedly, many of the abundant seeds produced by a Salix plant will fall on inhospitable surfaces and die. Those that live are true pioneers.

These willows can survive harsh environments without much nutrient. They reproduce quickly and abundantly but, as early colonisers, they are often stunted in growth and short lived. On their death, their decaying matter provides some nutrients for the next group of colonising plants which naturalists sometimes call “the homesteaders”.

Sitka Alder © DY of jtdytravels; P1100190

Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata © DY of jtdytravels; P1100190

These are the developing cones of Alnus crispa sp.sinuata, known as Sitka Alder, one of the dominant “homesteaders”. They are the first plants to really thrive in recently deglaciated terrain in Alaska and are important because their leaf litter adds nitrogen to the soil (in much the same way as clovers and legumes). With that enrichment of the soil, plants such as willows and cottonwoods have a much better chance of thriving.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100192

Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata © DY of jtdytravels; P1100192

Mature cones of Sitka Alder, Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata may hang on the trees for long after their seeds are dispersed. Such cones are sometimes electroplated with gold and sold in the gift shops as jewellery. (They might have made the perfect souveneir for our Christmas tree but we didn’t see any for sale and in any case we can’t bring wood products into Australia.)

Boschniakia rossica Northern Groundcone © DY of jtdytravels; P1100193

Boschniakia rossica  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100193

The Alders play host to this unusual plant, Boschniakia rossica, commonly called Northern Groundcone, which looks very much like a bunch of pine cones stuck in the ground. It grows in the dense shade under Alder thickets where not much else can grow. It needs no light as it produces no chlorophyl. It is, in fact, a parasitic herb which lives on the roots of the Alder. What look like cone scales are really brownish, two lipped flowers. Grizzly bears like to feast on these thick fleshy plants… but none were around on this day, fortunately!

The plant is named after a Russian botanist, A.K. Boschniak. That’s not surprising since the Russians had a base in nearby Sitka from 1799 until 1867… the latter being the year that Alaska was purchased from Russia by the USA. 

Lupinus nootkatensis © JY of jtdytravels; P1130481

Lupinus nootkatensis © JY of jtdytravels; P1130481

A plant that is also important in the plant colonisation process here in Alaska is Lupinus nootkatensis, the delightful Alaskan Lupin, or Nootka Lupin, seen growing here in a bed of moss.  Lupins also add much needed nitrogen to the soil, enriching the environment for other plants to survive and thrive. Grizzly bears like to feast on the Lupin roots.

Lupinus nootkatensis is one of the Lupin species from which garden hybrids are derived. It was introduced into Europe in the 18th Century and now grows like a weed in northern Europe, festooning banks with colour in summer. In Iceland, it was introduced to try to stabilise soil, but, it has done so well there, that it’s now endangering native Icelandic plants.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100177

Pyrola asarifolia  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100177

Another plant commonly found with the Alders are Wintergreens. This one, Pyrola asarifolia, or Pink Wintergreenis the largest of the Wintergreens in the Alaskan coastal forests. There may be 8 to 25  delightful bell or cup shaped flowers along a tall stem. These flowers seem to hang their heads demurely. Perhaps they are not sure what we might think of their secret! For these delicate flowers belong to a plant that is scientifically known as a semisaprophytic plant; it can make its own chlorophyl (hence the semi) but it lives mainly on dead plant and animal material. Saprophytic plants like these require the assistance of fungi to help breakdown the organic material. It’s a delightful but unusual plant!

Pyrola has been used in native medicine as a poultice for sores or swellings.

Lycopodium selago Fir Clubmoss © DY of jtdytravels; P1100203

Lycopodium selago © DY of jtdytravels; P1100203

Another plant used by the native peoples for medicinal purposes is the low growing Lycopodium selago, commonly called Fir Clubmoss or Mountain Clubmoss. It was used as a purgative, a “strong medicine”. It’s also reported to contain a chemical that may be effective against Alzeimer’s Disease. It seems that we still have so much to learn from plants!

Another interesting fact about club mosses is that their spore powder, known as “vegetable sulphur”, is very flammable and has been used to make fireworks and was even used in early flash photography.

The Club moss above is growing in amongst some other mosses. In general, however, many of the mosses and lichens don’t do very well in the leaf litter in the deep shade of Alders. They prefer to grow on the branches as epiphytes where they find some light.

Spruce Trees © JT of jtdytravels; P1130453

Emerging conifer forest © JT of jtdytravels; P1130453

The next stage in the colonisation process is the growth of conifers, especially Spruce and Hemlock. In this photo, Alders are in the lower right corner, while conifers have displaced them on the lakeside bank.  Young conifers may take 100 to 400 years before the Spruce and Hemlock forest, which is endemic to this area, becomes fully established.

Our time at Mendenhall was flying but we still just had time to visit the excellent “Discovery Centre”and take in the documentary made about this glacial area. The interpretative section of the centre was also very well done; I could have spent hours there. However, our time was almost up; the bus awaited our return.

As we walked back down towards the bus, the bank beside the footpath provided us with yet another opportunity to photograph flowers!  

Holodiscus sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1130485

Holodiscus discolor © JT of jtdytravels; P1130485

This lovely plant is Holodiscus discolor, or Oceanspray.  It was growing on a moss covered bank of rocks which made a delightful back drop to my photo. It’s a hardy plant; there wasn’t much soil on this steep rocky bank.

Holodiscus discolor and Ranunculus repens © DY of jtdytravels P1100205

Holodiscus discolor and Ranunculus repens © DY of jtdytravels P1100205

Another Holodiscus discolor, Oceanspray, was growing on recently disturbed soil amongst a delightful swathe of Creeping Buttercup, Ranunculus repens. Note the reddish stems of the Oceanspray. Another common name for this plant is ‘ironwood’, because of the hardness of those woody stems. Native peoples made these stems even harder by heating them over a fire before using them to make digging sticks, small spears, harpoon shafts, and arrows. Some native groups even used the stems for salmon barbequing sticks.They have also been made into knitting needles. Before the advent of nails, pegs made from the stems were used in construction projects.

As a medicine, some groups made an infusion of the brownish fruiting clusters to help stop diarrhoea. The infusion was also used as a blood tonic and to counteract measles and chickenpox.  Indeed, a particularly useful plant.

Epilobium latifolium © DY of jtdytravels; P1100211

Chamerion angustifolium © DY of jtdytravels; P1100211

On the same bank David found this very common roadside plant, a member of the Evening Primrose family, Chamerion angustifolium, formerly known as Epilobium angustifolium. It is known by the names of Tall Fireweed, Great Willowherb or Rosebay Willowherb. Is it any wonder we need the Latin names for plants; so many common names for one plant.

Unlike other types of Fireweed, this one has unbranched erect stems. The buds grow on tall red stemmed spikes. They burst into flower from the lowest buds first. Again, this plant looks delightful against a background of golden moss.

Locals in Alaska make a syrup from Fireweed and they also enjoy Fireweed honey. What they also know is that when Fireweed stops flowering, winter is upon them!

Yellow Daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130484

Yellow Daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130484

It always amazes to me that, almost anywhere you go in this world, at least one member of the daisy family, Asteraceae, will find a place to make it’s sunny presence felt. This is not a planted garden; it’s a natural bank of plants. They are always a welcome sight to me.

Bank of white daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130488

Bank of white daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130488

And just before I climbed on board the bus after a most enjoyable afternoon, I stopped to admire a bank of white daisies; how appropriate near a glacier!

Fly pollinating white daisy © JT of jtdytravels; P1130456

Fly pollinating white daisy © JT of jtdytravels; P1130456

And, of course, I couldn’t resist a closer look! Simple, very common and yet…

so stunningly beautiful.

Our plant hunting in Mendenhall might be over but there is plenty more to come!

It’s now time to get ready to board our home for the next week,

the small, but good ship, “Sea Lion”

Jennie and David

Thought for today:

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed

and to have my senses put into tune once more.

John Burrough (1837 – 1921)

American Naturalist

More of our travel posts can be found on

www.dymusings.com

and photos on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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