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The Unspoiled Beauty of Misty Fiords National Monument Wilderness

Staring out at the turquoise water surrounding Ticket to Ride here in the Tuamotos, it is nearly impossible to believe the contrast of landscapes we have experienced in the last year alone as we travel on our sailboat.

Scanning the horizon of these atolls which have a maximum elevation of about 10 feet, I recall anchorages of Alaska with their tree covered, mountainous heights. Neither scene is more beautiful than the other; they both have unique qualities that call to different activities and personalities.

Rather than allow our travels in Alaska to fall away without being journaled, I plan on adding occasional, out of order posts about our experiences there. Because we covered so many miles in a short time, I will “cherry pick” the areas I cover. This blog is about a couple of our stops in the Misty Fiords National Monument Wilderness….

We upped anchor at 5:30 am on August 20, 2021 to allow for a leisurely 6 hours, 55 nm motor to arrive in an area called Punchbowl. We had hoped to snag the one mooring ball available in the cove but the only other boat in the anchorage beat us to the “punch.” (Hehehe)

You can just make out the other sailboat in the anchorage.

Instead we spent some time traversing the steep banks and looking for a reasonable place to drop the hook. In this case, we found an adequate spot in the southeast corner of the head of the bay. We dropped anchor in 100 feet of water!

TTR anchored in 100′ in beautiful Punchbowl, AK

Punchbowl is surrounded by tall sides that alternated between forested greens and towering granite. We introduced ourselves to the one other sailboat in the anchorage; a lone man with a broken arm was on board. We learned that he was watching the boat while his friends were scaling one of the granite faces. Needless to say, he was extremely disappointed that his injury prevented him from ascending the mountain with his friends. Try as we might, the cliffs were so large that even with excellent binoculars, we could not find the small specks that were the men climbing up the granite face!

The granite face the men were climbing.

We also met two really nice adventurers from Bend, OR who were on a two week kayaking trip. Mitch and Steve were self supporting their trip and alternated between staying in their tents or in the National Forest cabins available in Alaska. We offered them some ice water and a cold beer or two before they paddled to shore…. I think those beers were the equivalent of striking gold for Mitch and Steve!

Frank trimming a walking stick.

We spent the first afternoon exploring the cove, then hiking a trail through the woods and upward in elevation. We had heard there was a National Forest cabin at the top of the trail and Mitch and Steve confirmed that they hoped to stay in that cabin the following night.

Frank captured a drone picture of the upper lake we wanted to find.

The next morning we packed a picnic lunch and planned on making a full day of hiking the trail to the upper lake. We had heard there were canoes available to anyone who wanted to use them at the lake and we hoped they would be seaworthy enough for us to use.

The trail was intensely green and had a hallowed peacefulness. The sounds we heard were the twittering of birds, the crashing of water tumbling from high in the mountain, our own steps across carpeted greens and fallen branches….. oh, yeah, and the old time rhythms of Motown!

Another pretty section of the hike.

While hiking, we had seen plenty of “calling cards” left by bears and Frank and I had long since grown tired of our own singing to alert all bears of our presence. We began carrying a small speaker on our backpack and playing music during our hikes through bear country.

We definitely did turn off the music and absorb the quiet and beauty of our hike now and then. We both prefer the hush of the forest, but we didn’t want to surprise or be surprised by a bear, especially one with a cub or two.

This national forest cabin had only three sides but did offer shelter.

The hike to the upper lake took about two hours. It wasn’t an easy hike but it wasn’t arduous either, except where a small tree slide covered the trail. Climbing around, under and through the tree trunks and branches was a little challenging. With my vivid imagination of having to ride a tree continuing its slide down the mountain, I was motivated to hurry across that area! 

The path wove through a variety of picturesque terrain, but when we reached the lake and found the canoes and paddles seaworthy and free for anyone to use, the already gorgeous day became even better. The lake was stunningly beautiful!

The upper lake was beyond gorgeous!

Frank was transported back to his youthful days of canoeing in Scouts and immediately took control of the paddling. I was happy to sit in front, soak up the intense beauty and take photos.

Frank did a fabulous job of canoeing around the upper lake.

A few rain clouds with showers moved in, so we found a little outcropping of rock with tree covering where we could sit out the rain. Protected by low lying branches, we shared a picnic lunch and watched the rain dance across the lake.

What a fun picnic spot to wait out the rain!

The rain only lasted a short while and left a funny, flat rainbow in its wake.

That’s the shortest rainbow I have ever seen!

After the rain, we packed up our picnic and explored the lake a little longer. Mid afternoon, we returned the canoe and meandered back down the trail and home to TTR.

After two nights in Punchbowl, we moved to Walker Cove, another area of Misty Fiords. We didn’t think it was possible, but the surroundings of Walker Cove anchorage were even more dramatic than Punchbowl!

TTR anchored in Walker Cove.

Behind Ticket to Ride, a river appeared to wind through the trees and Frank and I knew we had to find a way to explore it. We weren’t sure how far or deep the water would be.

That stream called our names, so we had to explore it.

This time we pulled out our paddle boards to explore. We paddled up a stream that soon became very shallow and was filled with salmon!

The stream we paddled to watch the salmon.

Frank and I stopped the boards in about six inched of water and sat on the SUPS with our feet rooted in the rocky river bed. We stayed for over an hour, watching nature’s show of the salmon swimming upstream to reach their spawning grounds.

Hanging out, watching the salmon go swim past.

We had seen many streams of various intensity with salmon swimming and jumping up the waters to achieve their destination. This was the first time we were in the middle of the stream and could actually have reached out to touch the salmon. We observed that the fish were not in the best of health. Clearly the effort required to find their particular river and swim against the stream had taken a toll. Many of the salmon had patches of discoloration where they had lost scales and several seemed to be at the end of their energy.  We actually saw a few expire as we watched. Their movements ranged from energetically swimming up stream around and over rocks to those that apparently had already spawned, then gave up swimming and slowly ebbed down stream with subtle tail swishes that eventually stopped completely.

I found it a bit sad to watch, but also interesting to see the cycles of life we all learned about in elementary school unfold before our eyes.

Frank and I fully expected to see a bear or two come to the stream and harvest dinner while we were balanced on our boards. So many lethargic salmon would make for an easy bear feast. But no bears arrived during the hour we watched the salmon.

Later that afternoon we took Day Tripper out to explore our surroundings in Walker. There were  many waterfalls high on the mountains, creating valleys between trees or sliding down slippery granite walls and splashing into the water.  

Admiring the scenery near Walker Cove.

The sheer magnitude of the fiord was mesmerizing. We spent well hours skimming along the shoreline, staring at the contrast and beauty of the smooth rocks and forested slopes. Occasionally, Frank would expertly maneuver Day Tripper up to some of the waterfalls that had leveled off and gently cascaded into the water. 

One of the waterfalls in Walker Cove.

The whole area was like a feast for our senses where our eyes ingested the immense beauty and our souls absorbed the serenity and power of our surroundings.


A week after leaving Punchbowl, Frank and I were in Ketchikan where we had spent the day in the library, catching up on internet communication, hiding from the rain. On our way back to TTR, we stopped at the Bar Harbor Ale House and ordered wine before dinner. When our waitress delivered our drinks, she informed us that our drinks were compliments of the folks at another table. We turned to thank our mystery benefactors who turned out to be Mitch and Steve – our kayaking friends from Punchbowl!  Of course we asked them to join us and we exchanged stories of our adventures over a delicious meal. We were so happy to hear all about Steve and Mitch’s trip and the adventures they had. 

How fun it is to know that this giant world is also quite small.

Thanks so much for reminiscing with us about our travels in Alaska. It is truly a magical and magnificent place. Even though it is a bit confusing to bring up blogs out of sequence, Alaska deserves to be recorded and recalled… Wishing you good health and fun adventures.

Our 12 Mile Hike Through an Erosional Valley!

When Frank and I visited Maui in the early 2000’s, we joined scores of others at the top of Haleakala Crater to watch the sun rise. The temperatures were quite chilly but definitely worth braving for the view.  This time while visiting Maui, our TCU friend, Dave, suggested we hike the Haleakala Crater instead of passively watching the sunrise. 

Towering 10,023 feet above sea level, Haleakala was quite a change from our usual sea level life!

Not having any clue what we were getting into, we quickly agreed. Our eldest son, Hunter, was visiting and we agreed to hike on the next good weather day. The morning was brisk but warmed up to a very pleasant temperature. The day never became hot and other than a short, refreshing mist, it didn’t rain either. The conditions were perfect!

Dave, Hunter, Frank, then me…. we are on our way!

Haleakala National Park covers more than 52 square miles and there are 30 miles of hiking trails in the Park with a variety of lengths. Dave recommended we take the 11.5 mile hike down the summit, across the crater and out another side. I was a bit nervous about hiking so far without so much as a warm up hike!

Geologically speaking, Haleakala Crater is actually an erosional valley dotted by numerous volcanic features including large cinder cones, according to Wikipedia. The video above shows clouds moving across one such cinder cone.

The views were dramatic!

The name Haleakala means “house of the sun” and the legend states that the demigod Maui stood on Haleakala and lassoed the sun as it moved across the sky to slow its descent and lengthen the day. We understood the desire to make a day last longer after hiking this lovely area.

The clouds drifted in and away throughout the day.

The last eruption of Haleakala is estimated to have been between 1480 and 1600 AD, yet scientists say that the next eruption of Haleakala is not IF but WHEN. However the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is responsible for monitoring Haleakala and they currently do not show any precursor volcanic activity at Haleakala. Scientists who believe activity is coming suggest this volcano will erupt within the next 500 years. Yeah, I’m not going to loose any sleep over this one.

I have read that more endangered species live in Haleakala National Park than any other park in the United States. One example is the Silversword plant which had a beautiful silver-green cast and sparkled from the dew reflecting the morning sunlight.

Several Silverswords plants with one pointed sword visible.

Surprisingly, the silversword is part of the daisy family and has succulent leaves that are covered with silver hairs. The skin and hair are strong and allow the plant to withstand the wind and freezing temperatures as well as prevent dehydration.

As we walked down into the valley and across the crater, the landscape changed dramatically from the “sliding sands” at the beginning to a more rugged terrain as seen where the silverswords grew and int he picture above. Once across the valley, we ascended a ridge and found ourselves again in a Mars-like vista as seen in the video below.

Everywhere you look it is a long walk.

Color abounds even without plant life.

Walking from one type of landscape to the next brought beauty of different varieties. The silversword looks sparkly and fresh against the rough brown rocks, but this hillside and other areas had rich hues of colors including reds, yellows, blacks and grays.

Dave, Frank, Hunter and Mary Grace about 6 miles into the walk.
And now we happen upon a completely different environment!

As we continued our walk, we descended to a new environment of grass and other plants. It was so surprising to move from walking on sliding sands to pebbles and rocks then to encounter a trail overgrown with long grass! I went from a dusty environment to wondering what could be hiding in the grass along our trail!

This is also where I began to question my decision to make this hike. The photo above is about 20 minutes before we stopped for lunch. I knew our car was parked high above our current altitude and I could not see where our end point was! Thankfully after refueling and resting at lunch, I felt reinvigorated and ready to continue.

The arrow points to the plateau where we had lunch.

This was the end of the flat hike. The next few miles were switch backs up the mountainside to reach the parking area. Frank and I stopped at every switchback and took a picture of our view. Each was unique as we climbed higher, faced different directions and had clouds visit and depart.

You can see some of the switchbacks on the left and our lunch spot way to the right.
Looking back allows us to appreciate how far we have come.
Hunter looking down on his slower parents.

After approximately 2.5 miles of traversing up the switchbacks, we arrived at the parking area. My pedometer showed a total walk of nearly 12 miles by the end of the trail. We were both pretty tired but also pleased with how good we felt considering we have not spent much time off of TTR and we definitely had not done any hiking in many weeks. But, not willing to take any chances, Frank and I immediately began stretching on the concrete near the parking lot. Hunter found that hysterical and took pictures. No doubt to show his brother how strange we are. All I have to say is – wait until you are in your sixth decade and let us know if you skip the stretching then!

Hunter laughing at his parents for stretching after walking nearly 12 miles. NO respect!

All in all, the hike through Haleakala was amazing and a highlight of our time on Maui. We are so glad Dave suggested the hike and acted as our leader and guide. Dave has hiked hundreds of miles on the El Camino Trail and he is much more fit than we are, so we are especially appreciative of his patience!

Thank you for stopping to read our blog. We hope you enjoyed seeing the beauty of Haleakala Crater. If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit us on Facebook or Instagram.

Dodging A Hurricane ~ Good Riddance Douglas!

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and I never thought about hurricanes. Tornadoes, yes. Hurricanes? I hardly even knew what they were.

Now we live on a boat and hurricanes are a determining factor in where we want to be at different times of the year and thus have a major influence on our lives.  In 2020, we had planned to avoid the hurricane season by sailing to French Polynesia in March. The plan was to stay for a while in the Marquesas Islands where hurricanes are virtually unheard of.

But like every other person in the world, our 2020 plans have changed and we are spending this hurricane season in Hawaii.


Pretty views in Hanalei Bay, Kauai

Fortunately, Hawaii rarely suffers from hurricanes, but recently Hurricane Douglas developed and decided to head toward these beautiful islands.


Randy and Shellie pulling Frank on the foil board.

We were happily anchored in Hanalei Bay, Kauai when Douglas began swishing about in the Pacific and heading this direction. Between swims, foiling practice and visits with other boaters, we began exploring our hurricane options. 

Most of the local boaters were taking the hurricane threat fairly lightly but since Frank and I experienced running away from Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit, and we saw friends who remained suffer severe damage, we tend to err on the side of caution.



That little green dot represents TTR in Hanalei Bay.

Folks who have permanent marina slips for their boats already know they are going to ride out any storm in the marina and thus go through some lengthy steps to prepare:

  1. remove sails and canvas
  2. remove any loose objects
  3. tie down anything that remains on deck
  4. tie, cross tie and reinforce all of the lines that keep the boat in the dock
  5. pray

Since we do not have a permanent marina home, our options vary depending on our location. Here in Hawaii, we had contacted a couple of marinas and they either did not have room for us or only had an end tie available. The issue with an end tie is that we can only secure TTR from one side so we have no way to secure her in the middle of a slip to prevent her from banging against the peer when winds push her in all directions.  That was not a good option as we had visions of Ticket to Ride surging and smashing against the dock.

When we were in the Caribbean, it was possible to find mangrove holes where one could anchor and secure the boat and the roots and trunks of the mangroves absorbed much of the storm, thus offering a viable hiding place during a storm.

We are not aware of such places in Hawaii.

Much like when we were in Puerto Rico and sailed away from Hurricane Maria, we believed our best option was also to sail away and avoid the storm altogether. The difference this time was that we didn’t have a destination to sail to; instead we were just sailing out of harms way and would be bobbing about until it was safe to return to land.

There were a few other boats anchored in Hanalei Bay who had the same plan, so several of us left the Bay on Saturday, 48 hours ahead of when the storm was expected to reach Kauai.

When deciding where to run from Douglas, we originally considered sailing north because forecasts showed a chance of the hurricane passing Kauai on its’ south side. But as the storm tracks were updated, it became more likely that Douglas was going to pass over Hanalei Bay or on the northerly side.

After much discussion between us and with other sailors, we decided a better plan was to sail south, thus keeping the Hawaiian Islands between TTR and Hurricane Douglas. The plan was to sail our way south on the western side of the islands while Douglas stormed north on the eastern side of the islands.


TTR sailing w R1 in the main and the self-tacking jib.

Fortunately this plan worked well and TTR encountered very little of Hurricane Douglas’ effects.  The highest true wind speeds we encountered was 31 knots and the highest seas we saw were probably 8-10 feet.

We saw no rain and the seas were reasonable.

Frank did an amazing job of reviewing the weather reports, analyzing the wind predictions and guiding us toward the lighter wind spots. In fact, after the storm passed us on Sunday, we saw a long stretch of very flat seas and only 6 knots of wind!

When we sailed out of Hanalei Bay, we had the genoa and self-tacking jib up as foresails. We did find we used the self-taker most often and we had one reef in the main at all times.

All told, we were only out sailing about 48 hours. We left Hanalei around 9 am Saturday and we dropped anchor off of Maui at 8 am Monday.

Things I learned:

  1.  TTR is a sturdy, well designed and well fabricated sailboat. She can handle much more than I can. (Ok, I already knew that.)
  2. I love how quiet the rigging is on this HH55!
  3. Frank has a higher tolerance for speed and bumpiness than I do.
  4. Self-tackers are especially nice when short handing in rough seas.

If I were to change anything about how we handled this sail, I would have put a second reef in the main after we were behind Oahu and had a little distance between where we started and where the eye was predicted to hit Kauai. While a second reef wasn’t necessary and we were completely safe, I would have been more comfortable since we didn’t exactly know how windy it might become; especially at night when I am alone on watch.

I would like to express our appreciation to the many friends who reached out to wish us well and who followed our track as we were avoiding the storm.  I appreciated the prayers and the messages we received. It is comforting to know others are looking out for us when we are out of communication and guessing our best course.

Kuddos and big thanks to Frank for handling the lions share of the decision making. He is very good at analyzing the weather and I am often only able to listen as he tells me what is happening so I don’t get sea sick. I’m fortunate that he is so capable and that he doesn’t get sea sick!

This is a very simplified version of the decisions that must go into how to handle an upcoming hurricane. There are so many facets and it takes hours of weather watching and option assessment to come to a conclusion. Each boater must consider the capabilities of his own boat. How prepared is the boat and can it be moved right now? What does your insurance mandate? Have you filed a hurricane plan with your insurance company that must be followed or can it be changed? How much time is available to get into a safe zone before the weather affects sea conditions? How healthy and how capable is the crew? What “outs” are available if the plan isn’t working? Are communication systems up and functioning on the boat? Do you have people in place to communicate in case your weather information fails? Who knows where you are and can keep up with your location in case a problem arises? How much fuel, food and water are on board? These are a few of the factors that must be considered.

At this time, it is very important that we recognize and thank Tommy Henshaw for his incredible help during Hurricane Douglas. Tommy is the young man with whom we became friends in Kaneohe Bay.  I think he is our living guardian angel. Tommy was in communication with us several times a day during our Hurricane Douglas sail. Tommy watched our tracks, looked at weather and sent us the latest information based on images we are unable to get while at sea. He sent us messages just to let us knowhe was keeping an eye out for us. Tommy has shared local knowledge and offered information and advice that has been invaluable! Many thanks, Tommy!!

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts using the comments below. If you want to hear from us more often, please look for us on FB or Instagram (hh55ttr).

Floating In an Aquarium During COVID-19 Isolation.

This point can kick up great surf waves.

Honolua Bay, located on the northwest side of Maui, is a very popular stop for local day cruise boats. I have learned that four boats carrying 25-50 people each are often moored here for the day to allow their passengers to swim and snorkel.

“Our anchorageas seen from the road.

The Coronavirus has changed all of that. Instead TTR is sharing this beautiful bay with three other cruising boats who have also sailed to Hawaii for refuge during this pandemic. A local couple escapes here on their monohull as well.

A variety of fish anywhere we look.

Although our plan to sail to French Polynesia is on hold until boarders begin to reopen, we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to spend our isolation in Honolua Bay.

A school of Convict Surgeonfish.

Nearly every day we snorkel or swim and every time it feels as if I have jumped into an aquarium. The water is chilly enough to warrant a rash guard or a light wet suit for longer water sessions.

I love those eyes! 

The visibility in the water depends on the surf but usually it is very clear.

A Wedgetail Triggerfish – love those lips!

I am amazed by the variety of fish we see and how wide the range of colors, markings, shapes and sizes.

A pretty Pinktail Triggerfish.

I wonder if there are more varieties of fish than any other species…. no, probably insects have even more varieties.

I’ve seen a trumpetfish as long as I am tall!

Still, each time I snorkel I realize how few fish I can name and that I will never know them all.

What kind of fish is this? Part bird? Part dolphin?

Here are a few more photos taken while swimming in our Honolua Bay aquarium.

The turtle is unfazed by Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance.

The brightly marked Moorish Idol.

Of course there are a few maintenance items we have to take care of because we do live on a boat! However, with so much time on our hands and restricted movement, these projects are pretty easy to accomplish – as long as we don’t need parts or supplies!


Frank inspecting the anchor light on TTR.

They say timing is everything and that is proven true in the above picture. We have a few college friends who live on Maui and Dave and Nikki happened to drive by the bay while Frank was at the top of the mast. They snapped this photo and sent it to us. It’s fun to see this perspective, so thanks guys!

That’s a peak into life aboard TTR while we are restricted to one location. Hopefully the pictures will brighten your day and offer a slightly different view than one from land. If you are a cruiser who was caught away from his floating home when the pandemic hit, or someone hoping to become a live aboard, maybe these will remind you of what awaits.

We on TTR hope that anyone who reads this is staying well and safe during this crisis. Remember to be especially cautious when restrictions begin to lift. This pandemic has certainly proven that we all share this world, so let’s do our best to be patient and help one another. Wishing each person health, safety and comfort during this challenging time. 


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