December 14 was the first real day of winter in Sitka. There was a light fall of snow and some hear frost on the branches. We had had stormy November type weather the day before but the 14th dawned with a red sky and scattering clouds. (Red sky in morning has some meaning, today, the 15th we are having a big blow.)
As the day progressed the Sitka sky turned that strange shade of powder blue that we get when there’s a lot of moisture in the air. Clouds and mist rolled in and out of the mountain passes all day. I took my walk in the National Park before doing Problem Corner on KIFW.
During the show I took a call from a listener telling me that we had whales feeding in Silver Bay. After the show I called Suzi and we drove out to Silver Bay.
The Bay itself was gorgeous, that same power blue sky with snow on the trees low on the mountains and the mountains themselves and the clouds running between them reflecting the low winter sun. It was a perfect day for land bound whale watching. Silver Bay is a narrow fjord that pierces several miles into Baranof Island. The walls of the fjord reflect sound. When we pulled out at a “scenic lookout” we heard the whales before we saw them, their breath echoing off the mountain walls. It was loud but not distinct, the sound of the whales came at us from several reflected directions. But when we adjusted our eyes to the sun they were easy to see. Their breath froze in the winter air allowing us to see the sign of the whales for quite a long time. Often when a whale took two breaths we saw two plumes of spout, one a faint echo of the other drifting upward and mingling with the cloudy mist drifting down from the mountain passes. Scanning the bay we saw the spouts and, like thunder, had to wait for the sound of the whoosh of air escaping from the blowhole. We drove to several places in the bay to watch at least two pods feeding. One came very close to us. But no matter where we drove it seemed that the whales were hiding in a sunbeam making us squint and giving us odd light for photos.
The day ended with a sunset that looked like it was painted with broad brushes. And while we had a red sky at night and could see the moon the first part of the evening it became increasingly obscured by mist and cloud until the big blow started., A wind that almost lifted me from the ground in a parking lot on my way to my car.