Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

A Hike to Grewingk Glacier Lake - Saturday, August 13, 2022

Well, today turned out awesome in a number of different ways. 

  • First, our weather was forecast to be rain most of the day. But we only had intermittent spritzes from Mother Nature. The temperature was 57 degrees, perfect for hiking.
  • Second, the trail to the lake was pretty easy, a very gradual grade.
  • Third, some of us took a two-mile round-trip side trail to a river "tram." That is very different from a tram that goes up a mountain. This was a new experience for all of us who did it. The tram is a metal box with two seats suspended on a cable over the raging river. This is the only way to cross that river and you propel it yourself by using a rope/pulley system. Better have good arm muscles!
  • Fourth, Grewingk Glacier Lake is stunningly beautiful, complete with icebergs. The lake sits at the toe of Grewingk Glacier.
Our group met at the dock on the Homer Spit where we boarded water taxis to take us to the Grewingk Glacier Lake Trailhead. There was an exceptionally low tide this morning, so the ramps to the docks were at a very steep angle! Three water taxis were needed to ferry our group across Kachemak Bay. 

Leaving Homer's marina.

Our captain.

We are heading out of the Homer
Marina to cross Kachemak Bay.

Anita, Bob (inside), and Cathy. 

The beautiful mountains across
from Homer, Alaska.

Joan was enjoying the
scenery from inside the cabin.

The view from Kachemak Bay.

Normally, the trip takes 45 minutes; however, the bay was smooth with no wind and we made it across in 20 minutes. As we neared shore, sea otters popped up to look at the boat. A couple of them were floating on their backs. They are so curious and had to see what was going on.

Because the tide was so low, the water taxis couldn't drop us at the trailhead. Instead, they took us about 1.5 miles down the beach to a place where we could offload. Then we hiked the 1.5 miles to the trailhead on a very rocky beach.

Beautiful view of the mountains today!

The first water taxi for our group.

The people in the first water taxi had to exit the boat to the beach via a ladder! That looked rather exciting. Our taxi and the third taxi stormed the beach via a ramp that dropped right onto the gravel. Easy peasy!

The third water taxi coming in.

This is how the last two water taxis
let people off the boat. We felt like
we were storming the beaches. LOL.

Lynn, Lorraine, and Mary Jane

David, Xena-dog, Margret, Matt,
Bob Z., and Bob A.

Jim, Cathy, Joan, Gayle, and Anita.

Once we all met on the beach, we started off across the rocks. The tide was out so far that we saw a starfish, more accurately known as a seastar (it is not a fish). Cindy, our group leader,  picked it up and turned it over for us to see the hundreds of tiny little feet on each "arm." 

Cindy picking up seastar...

...and flipping it over.

To move, seastars fill these feet with seawater, causing the arm to move like a foot would. This mechanism allows the seastar to move--much quicker than you would expect. Each arm has a short sensory tentacle at each end that responds to chemicals and vibrations in the water, and a red photosensitive eyespot. A seastar often lifts the end of an arm to perceive light and movement.

When we started our walk along the beach, Cindy pointed out a fresh-water stream that disappeared under the rocks before emptying into the bay farther down the beach.

This stream simply disappears here.

You will see in the next few photos the amount of rocks we had to traverse on the beach. They are hard to walk on.

A freshwater river coming out of a
lake just over the berm from the beach.
Two very distinct types of rock here.
The rock on the right is volcanic in 

Beautiful headlands formed by waves.

We are traipsing over lots of rocks.

And then we saw the bald eagle and everyone came to a screeching halt. We had to get photos of this majestic bird!

We had a brief stretch of hard-packed
sand, a great respite from the rocks.

My photo of the bald eagle.

He posed in another direction, so I
took another photo.

Yep, lots of photographers in our group.

When we arrived at the trailhead, we divided up into fast and medium walkers, used the port-a-john, and then set off. Bob and I were in the group of fast hikers, so our group started out first. We were going to take a two-mile detour to the "tram" and take turns riding in it. The other group would go straight to the lake.

Fast hikers: Pat, Kevin, Tom, Bob Z., 
Bob A., and me.

Kachemak Bay State Park sign board.

Our spur trail to Grewingk Tram, 1 mile.

When we turned off on the spur trail to the "tram," we saw these very psychedelic-looking mushrooms. Wow. No, we did not try to eat them. 

Artistic fungi.

The biome changed from rainforest to taiga on the rocky remains of the receding glacier. The taiga biome is also known as coniferous forest or boreal forest. This biome typically has short, wet summers and long, cold winters. Precipitation is moderate in the taiga. It gets plenty of rain in the summer and plenty of snow during the winter. The dominant plants of the taiga are generally conifers, but a number of broad-leaved trees are also found in the taiga biome. These include birches, alders, aspens, willows, poplars, and rowans. 

White spruce.

White spruce pine cones.

Tom C. and Bob Z.

Northern green rein-orchid (maybe?).

We have come to the wide river with the "tram" crossing. There's no way you could walk across this river!

Foreground: Pat & Kevin.
Background: Bob Z. and Tom C.

The tree of Damocles. It looks like
it could fall off the bank at any moment.

We have made it to the tram. As you can see, it is a metal conveyance you use to pull yourself across the turbulent river. 

Bob at the tram.

All of us wanted a turn riding on the tram because it's unique (not to mention scary).

Warning about the tram.

Tram instructions.

Bob and I were first to go.

I'm taking a photo back from the middle of the river.

Looking back at Pat & Kevin.

Do I look terrified? We went out
farther than I wanted to go.

Kevin and Pat heading out.

Kevin and Pat over the river.

Next, Tom C. and Bob Z. went out individually. We took pics of them on their phones.

Then Bob decided he had to go to the other side. Kevin and Bob Z. helped him because it's really hard work to pull that rope. When you get to the other side, you have to get the tram car uphill to the platform. He did it, but it took longer than we thought. 

Once we finished there, we hurried to the lake (except for a few photo stops). 

Bob on the other side of the

The trail washed out in one part,
but it was super easy to bypass.

This looks like a super-sized lichen.

Bob Z. leading the way to the lake.

Bob A., Pat, Kevin, and Tom C. 

The day was quite beautiful.

Looking toward Grewingk Glacier.

It's still 1/2 mile to the lake.

We'll go back on the Saddle Trail.

I told the group, "We'll probably get there and Cindy will say, 'You have five minutes to eat before we leave.'" I was close. When we got there, we found out Bob and I were going back on the first water taxi and we had TWO minutes to eat! 

No way. I was starving and I wolfed down my whole sandwich as fast as I could so I'd have enough energy for the two miles down to the Saddle Trail water taxi pick-up point. We didn't have enough time to enjoy the lake, glacier and icebergs. I only got six pictures there and I had to hurry to take those.

First look at Grewingk Glacier.

Info board at the lake.

Here's our group happily eating lunch
with an awesome view.

Grewingk Lake and Glacier. Icebergs
are a definite plus!

Everyone else got to relax. 

I'm taking photos as we're
hurried away.

One last pic for posterity.

Jim, Bob, and I took off on the trail so we could make it to the water taxi in time.
The trail was way easier than I thought it was going to be! We saw signs of bears crossing the trail in multiple places. Thankfully, we did not have a bear run us down as it went on its way!

Fall colors are starting already!!

When we arrived at the landing for the water taxi, we had to wait 15 minutes for it to pick us up. It was late. We were a little early. 

Gorgeous mountain views from the 
Saddle Trailhead!

Bob eating more of his lunch.

This was not our water taxi, but I 
wanted you to see how they had to board.

Jim at the Saddle Trailhead stairs.

I'm REALLY happy we went down the Saddle Trail rather than up it. It had a 39% grade in parts and those parts were muddy and slippery. We had to be very careful going down.

There was a bear in the area in July, but
we saw signs of some today.

A beach and pretty scenery.

Looking up at only part of all
the stairs we had to come down.

Jim and Bob A.

After the water taxi picked us up, he wanted to give us a little tour. He took us to the small community of Halibut Cove. It was beautiful. I took a number of photos for those of you who won't get a chance to go there. 

Halibut Cove, Alaska, is a waterfront
community connected by boardwalks 
and boats.

Halibut Cove, Alaska.

A lovely home!

A protected harbor with views
of the mountains.

The local ferry.

What a spot!

An interesting way to live. 

The colorful side of our water taxi.

Halibut Cove, Alaska.

You can see the boardwalk along the
base of the rock.

Halibut Cove, Alaska.

Here's a sea arch that continues under
the water. (I guess that's rare.)

There are two immature bald eagles
in the tallest tree.

If you enlarge the photo, you should be
able to see the two bald eagles.

The back of our water taxi.

And then we arrived back at the marina in Homer. The two photos below are of a very unique, and I believe, home-made RV.

Here are a few photos of the Homer marina.

We will take the Rainbow to Seldovia
tomorrow morning.

All in all, my step tracker showed I walked 10.5 miles today. That includes walking from parking to the dock and back, and walking to the public restrooms. That's a lot of miles. No wonder I was famished when we got home. But I was also exhausted and took a nap for two hours before dinner! Then I made chili and salad.

The fifth reason today turned out awesome was the gorgeous double rainbow we could see from our 5th wheel this evening.

OK, so I got a bit carried away with the rainbow photos. I guess you had to be here. 

That's all for today. Tomorrow, we are going to Seldovia, Alaska, to roam around and see what's there. Enjoy your Sunday!


  1. Wow, I loved the glacier, your story to accompany the pictures, all the pictures, and Halibut Cove You done good! Sounds like that nap was well-deserved. What fun. I loved the lake and ice bergs that you didn't get time to relax and enjoy. At least you got to see it. Too bad your water taxi was late and a bummer there was no contact to let you know he was going to be late. I liked the painting on the sides and cabin. Added zing!
    That tram must have been exciting. Of course I'd never seen or heard of one. Glad you had Bob along to do the ropes.
    Cant wait for Seldovia.

    1. DJ, I love reading your comments. I didn't realize you worked in Homer or spent so much time here. The tram was definitely exciting! That water was raging underneath it. At least the rope that we pulled was in like-new condition and I didn't feel like it would break and dump us in the river. I did hang on, though!


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