Large calving action out on the point. The distance
between the point of land to the left (behind the tabs)
and the face of the glacier is 1/2 mile. It's BIG.!

Kayaking at the Hubbard Glacier
(We are still traveling with the same group as from Pack Creek.)
We flew an Alaska Airline's 737 to Yakatat (about 200 miles north of Juneau).


Peggy Wilcox
We walked across the airfield to an old dilapidated hanger that was used during WWII to fly military personnel in and out of the Aleutian Islands. I couldn't help but think that Dad might have stood in this same hanger a little
more than 50 years ago.

Click on map to see a lager image

We then hopped on a Cessna 185 (tail dragger) which took 3 to 4 people at a time plus gear about 50 miles away to a place near the Hubbard Glacier. Shortly after takeoff we looked down through a clearing and saw our only moose of the trip about 200 feet below. The tires on the plane were BIG balloon tires. Where we landed was on a rocky tidal bar where the Orange Glacier had receded. Very primitive!

Click on any photograph to see a larger image

Cessna 185 near the Hubbard Glacier.

Getting ready to paddle into the fog.
We were only a mile or so from the Hubbard Glacier but we couldn't see it because it was encased in fog. But, we could hear it! Sharp cracking sounds as the ice broke, followed by a deep rumble as 350 feet tall chunks of ice began tumbling, and finalized by ground shaking booms as skyscraper sized chunks of ice hit the water. "Toto, we're not in Kansas any more!"

We loaded all of our gear into canvas covered wooden framed kayaks and headed across the fjord closer to the glacier and the spot where we will make camp about of a mile from the face of the glacier. The paddle was almost surrealistic. We were in a heavy fog and had to stay fairly close to one another so we wouldn't get lost. We were repeatedly warned not to bump into each other or the icebergs with the kayaks since the canvas can tear. The changing tide caused periodic large icebergs and other quick flowing ice to come floating out of the fog. We had to make evasive maneuvers to miss the ice while keeping the other kayaks in sight.


Our colaspable canvas covered kayaks.




The fog made our view almost surrealistic.
At times it looked like the other kayaks were suspended in an empty space of nothingness. It was eerie but fun. As we arrived at the spot where we were to go ashore the ice flow was getting very thick and much faster. It was odd we would pass through a lane of ice going rapidly one direction and then a hundred yards later ice was going the opposite direction. We had to land the

kayaks one at a time, quickly unload, and "RUN" the gear and kayaks to higher ground. We were now so close to the glacier that the calving ice would cause tidal waves on the shore after each large ice chunk hit the water. The shoreline would go from a totally calm beach to waves 5 or 6 feet high within seconds. This would have been a very dangerous ordeal had we not had such knowledgeable guides. And! We still haven't seen the glacier. It was kinda spooky and we all loved it. This was an adventure!
This ia a 5 phototograph composite. This is what we could see from our campsite (about 1/3 of the face of the glacier).


This ia about a 1/3 of what 'we could see' of the glacier and we could only see 1/3 of the face.


View from camp.

Sally, turn around! During tidal change lots of ice would flow by and then stop and come back later. At times moving very quickly. Maybe 25 m.p.h.!

By 9:00 that night the fog began to lift and we saw our first glimpse of the massive ice flow on the other side of the fjord

The next morning was drizzly but we could see the glacier and some of the surrounding mountains that were home to at least 8 other glaciers that we could see. We were surrounded by mountains that were between 14,500 and over 17,000 high. But the glacier was the real show. Words can't describe seeing a river of ice that ends as a shear wall 350 feet tall and 6 miles long. Where we were camping we could only see about 3 miles of the glacier face.

 

That evening we sat around a cozy campfire sipping Crown Royal with chunks of glacier ice. The next morning we hiked to a point of land that was closest to the glacier. At this vantage point we were about a half a mile away. That may sound a long way away but it's NOT!

It looks really close and the tidal wave action is awesome. While sitting on this rocky point our guide whipped out a tiny little cook stove and popped 2 pans of Jiffy Pop popcorn! (Peggy Wilcox, she's the best!)

On our hike to and from camp we walked through hundreds of huge chunks of ice that ranged from the size of a car up to that of a small building. As we walked along the beach we had to pick and choose corridors of ice to walk through in maze like fashion. It was like walking in a fairytale land.
The second night as we had just retired for the night an enormous chunk broke off and literally shook the ground we were laying on. At first, Patti truly thought it was an earthquake. WOW.

The sights and sounds of the next two days were almost sensory overload. The last day was dry and mostly cloudy with a few sun breaks. We got glimpses of the towering mounts that surrounded us as we paddled to less than a half a mile from the face of the glacier on our way back to where the plane was to pick us up. Lots of close-up views of the calving and riding out a few tidal waves, but nothing too severe nor dangerous.

Of the many places we have visited around the world this is one of the most exceptional. We were in the first plane out and as the wheels cleared the rocky runway the pilot banked the plane sharply towards glacier. We flew close to the glacier wall at times looking up to see the top. We then flew up and over the glacier with our wheels less than 20 feet off the ice. We had a great view into the deep crevasses that made up the surface of this massive river of ice. As we flew back out over the water we saw maybe 60 to 100 harbor seals laying on the ice flows. This was a spectacular trip!

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